Well, I kept putting it off...and putting it off...all because I didn't have a springform pan and just couldn't pull practical side together enough to justify purchasing one. Well, low-and-behold, I discovered that my own MOTHER owned one! I couldn't believe it! So, I quickly snatched it up and went to making this favorite treat.
Initally, I was going to make it with graham crackers, but when making brownies one evening and getting completely distracted by kids, I seriously messed up my brownies. Arugh! I HATE it when I do that! What did I mess up, you say!? Only the MOST important part...the SUGAR! Yup! I completely forgot to add the sugar. Not my brightest and most proud moment, but what to do. So, that's how this chocolate crust came about. It's my mistake crumbs from brownies gone wrong (yes, with nuts, too).
I was surprised by how well it turned out. I'd never made a cheesecake before even though I've definitely devoured my share and then some. Making this was super easy from what I thought it would be! The only hard part was that I started so late in the evening that after all the baking, resting and cooling was done I didn't get in bed until after 2 a.m.! Yikes!
Would I make this one again. DEFINITELY!!! I want to make one RIGHT NOW! The flavor was superior to any Cheesecake Factory or New York Cheesecake slice I've eaten! I loved each and every rich and creamy bite mixed with a touch of chocolate and topped with just the right strawberry puree. Just typing this up now, is making me want to get baking another!
For the Crust
1 3/4 c. Oreo Cookie crumbs
3 T. sugar
Pinch of Salt
1/2 stick (4 T.) unsalted butter, melted
For the Cheesecake
2 lbs (Four 8-oz. boxes) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/3 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/3 c. sour cream or heavy cream, or a combination of the two
To make the Crust:
Butter a 9-inch springform pan-choose one that has sides that are 2 3/4 inches high-and wrap the bottom of the pan in a double layer of aluminum foil. Stir the crumbs, sugar and salt together in a medium bowl. Pour over the melted butter and stir until all of the dry ingredients are uniformly moist. Turn the ingredients into the springofrm pan and use your fingers to pat an even layer of crumbs over the bottom of the pan and about halfway up the sides. Don't worry if the sides are nt perfectly even or if the crumbs reach slightly above or below the midway point on the sides. Put the pan in the freezer while you preheat the oven.
Center a rack in the oven to 350 degrees F and place the springform on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Set the crust aside to cool on a rack while you make the cheesecake.
Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F.
To make the Cheesecake:
Put kettle of water on to boil. Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese at medium speed until soft and creamy, about 4 minutes. With the mixer running, add the sugar and salt and continue to beat for another 4 minutes or so, until the cream cheese is light. Beat in the vanilla. Add the eggs one by one, beating for a full minute after each addition-you want a well-aerated batter. Reduce the mixer speed to low and mix in the sour cream and/or heavy cream.
Put the foil-wrapped springform pan in a roasting pan that is large enough to hold the pan with some space around it.
Give the batter a few stirs with a rubber spatula, just to make sure there is nothing left unmixed at the bottom of the bowl, and scrape the batter into the springform pan. The batter will reach the rim of the pan. Put the roasting pan in the oven and pour enough boiling water into it to come halfway up the sides of the springform pan.
Bake cheesecake for 1 hour and 30 minutes, at which point the top should be browned (and perhaps cracked) and may have risen just a little above the rim of the pan. Turn off the oven and prop the oven door open with a wooden spoon. Allow the cheesecake to luxuriate in its water bath for another hour.
After 1 hour, carefully pull the setup out of the oven, lift the springform pan out of the roaster-be careful, there may be some hot water in the aluminum foil-and remove the foil. Let the cheesecake come to room temperature on a cooling rack.
When the cake is cool, cover teh top lightly and refridgerate for at least 4 hours; overnight is better.
At serving time, remove the sides of the springform pan and set the cake on a serving platter.