This post is WAY late. I made this on Valentine’s Day. We had church that night and I promised a few people a wonderful cheesecake if they came (when there is a holiday people use that as an excuse not to come to church, so bribing is the best way I have found to get them to come).

The first time I made cheesecake I was so nervous. It seemed so difficult and potentially temperamental. But I really really really enjoy cheesecake so I had to go for it. I will never forget my first cheesecake attempt/success. Oreo; oreo crust and plain cheesecake with big chunks of oreos in the cheesecake. MMMM, It was soo good. And then my second cheesecake was White Chocolate Raspberry. (I worked at the Cheesecake Factory during college, so I got first hand exposure to lots of different flavors). After those 2 I felt pretty good about my cheesecake making ability and started to experiment even more. I have made many many cheesecakes over the few years since college. But this is my first one with a chocolate ganache on top. I don’t know how I will ever be able to enjoy cheesecake without it now. It pushed this over the edge of great into freaking awesome.

Something I really like about making cheesecake is that you can use low fat ingredients. I always use low fat cream cheese and sour cream. Because you use so much sugar and eggs, you will never know you are cutting some of the fat. And I KNOW other people won’t either. Because those folks I bribed at church, they devoured this thing and had no idea!

For the crust
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (10 crackers: 1 bag)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the filling
32 ounces (4 blocks) low fat cream cheese at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 whole extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1/4 cup sour cream, low fat
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup mini chocolate chips

For the ganache
1/2 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup chocolate chips (milk chocolate or semi sweet)

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

To make the crust, combine the graham crackers and melted butter in a bowl until moistened. Pour into a 9-inch springform pan. With your hands, press the crumbs into the bottom of the pan and about 1-inch up the sides. Bake for 8 minutes. Cool to room temperature.

Raise the oven temperature to 450 degrees F.

To make the filling, cream the cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Reduce the speed of the mixer to medium and add the eggs, 1 at a time, mixing well. Scrape down the bowl and beater, as necessary. With the mixer on low, add the sour cream, and vanilla. Fold in the chocolate chips. Pour into the cooled crust.

Bake for 15 minutes. Turn the oven temperature down to 225 degrees and bake for another 1 hour and 15 minutes (DO NOT open the oven door when you lower the temperature. Trust you oven, and KNOW that your cheesecake is not burning after 15 minutes). Turn the oven off and open the door wide. The cake will not be completely set in the center. Allow the cake to sit in the oven with the door open for 30 minutes. Take the cake out of the oven and allow it to sit at room temperature for another 2 to 3 hours, until completely cooled. Wrap and refrigerate overnight.
*Lowering the temperature and letting it cook for a little longer allows it to cook all the way through without browning it or making too many cracks in the top. Turning off the oven and letting the cake sit inside with the door cracked is a great trick to continue cooking it, but it won’t brown or burn.

Remove the cake from the springform pan by carefully running a hot knife around the outside of the cake. Leave the cake on the bottom of the springform pan for serving.

To make the topping, heat the heavy cream and chocolate chips in a double boiler over low heat. Once the chocolate has melted and is stirred in, remove the bowl from the heat and let it cool. Allow it too cool to room temperature. It will thicken as it cools. But you will still be able to pour it onto the cheesecake. Carefully pour the ganache into the middle of the cheesecake and spread it to the outside, leaving about 1/4 of an inch space from the edge. Refrigerate until ready to serve.



I cut a piece of the cheesecake for its ‘photoshoot’ about an hour before church on Valentine’s night. As I was taking pictures I thought it would be great to have a picture of a bite of the cheesecake. And then another bite, and another, and oh crap, I ate the entire slice. And then I proceeded to eat more. I literally ate about 1/8 of the entire cake by the time it was all over. It was good stuff!