by David Fisco
5 September 2012
Word count: 866
Dessert | Baking
This is not a minimalist cake; using multiple sources of chocolate and several flavor enhancers, the result is one of the richest cakes I've come up with. Given the smoothness of the filling, the grain of the crust and the bite of the chocolate morsels, it has a lot of varied texture. But it's not an easy cake to make as it has many ingredients requiring several kitchen techniques and a long baking time. It's worth it, however, as it has been a huge hit. Most people don't realize that it's a cheesecake; they think it is made from chocolate fudge.

I call it an "accidental" cake because of how I invented the recipe. One night, after a culinary lab, I had some ingredients that were about to expire. Rather than throw them away, I combined them with a few other ingredients and tried to make something out of them. The next day, when I sampled the result and learned how well it had turned out, I ran to the computer to record what I had done the night before. After a little tweaking to get the recipe just right, here's the result.

1 box of chocolate graham crackers or chocolate wafers (approximately 14 ounces/400 grams)
1.5 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter
4 ounces (113 grams) unsweetened chocolate
1 tablespoon espresso powder
3 tablespoons white, dry rum
1/4 cup (85 grams) light corn syrup
1/4 cup (85 grams) honey
3 cups (600 grams) sugar
3 bars (24 ounces) American cream cheese at room temperature
3 large eggs at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/4 cup (30 grams) bleached all-purpose flour, sifted
1/4 cup (20 grams) Hersheys cocoa, sifted
12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips

Equipment needed

  • large saucepan
  • food processor
  • stove
  • fork
  • sieve for sifting
  • 10.5" springform pan
  • spoon
  • convection oven
  • measuring cups or digital scale
  • measuring spoons
  • heatproof spatula
  • stand mixer
  • large baking pan for water bath
  • large metal foil
  • oven mitts
  • thin knife
  • cooling rack
  • refrigerator
Preheat oven to 350°F. Using a food processor with the blade attachment, chop the chocolate cookies into fine crumbs and place the crumbs in a large bowl. Melt the butter. Pour the butter into the crumbs and use a fork to evenly coat the crumbs with butter. Pour the crumbs into a 10.5" springform pan. Using the back of a spoon, evenly distribute the crumbs along the sides and bottom of the pan. It will take some time to get the crumbs in place, but be sure they reach the top of the pan. If you have more crumbs than needed, you can discard the excess. If made into too think of a crust, some cookie crumbs can "cement" while baking making the crust difficult to eat, but other crumbs can make a thick crust without any difficulty. If you don't know how the cookies you used will react to baking, it's best to use a thinner crust. Put the pan in the oven for 12 minutes. Remove and place on a cooling rack. Turn the oven down to 275°F.

Using the bowl of your stand mixer and a large saucepan, make a double boiler. Fill the saucepan about 3/4 full with water and boil on the stove. When the water boils, turn the flame down to medium and place the bowl of the stand mixer on the saucepan. Break the unsweetened chocolate into small pieces and place in the stand mixer's bowl. Using a heatproof spatula, stir until the chocolate is melted. Remove from heat.

Add to the bowl all of the remaining ingredients except the semi-sweet chocolate chips. Using the paddle attachment of your mixer, combine the ingredients on medium-low speed. Stop the mixer a few times and use the spatula to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Make sure all ingredients are incorporated. Turn the mixer to low and stir in the semi-sweet chocolate chips.

Prepare the water bath: Place a large, deep baking pan on your oven rack, begin boiling a large saucepan full of water and double- or triple-wrap your springform pan with large sheets of strong foil to make the pan waterproof. Pour the batter into the springform pan and tap the bottom of the pan on a flat surface several times to release any air bubbles. When the water is boiling, put the springform pan in the oven's baking pan and fill the baking pan with boiling water, being careful not to get any water in your cake. Bake the cake for 3 hours and 30 minutes, checking the water level and adding more boiling water as necessary. (That's not a misprint; it needs to bake for 3 hours and 30 minutes.)

When the cake is done, carefully remove it from the oven. (The water will be hot.) Place it on a cooling rack and carefully remove the layers of foil from the outside of the pan. Allow the cake to cool for 1 hour. When the hour is up, run a thin knife around the edges of the cake to make sure all of it is separated from the pan's sides. Remove the sides of the springform pan and place the cake in the refrigerator. Cool completely.