Like everyone who likes to cook and peruses Facebook or Pinterest, I screenshot photos of food regularly. I don’t always screenshot the recipe, especially if I can see the major ingredient is cheese or tinned dough or some kind of canned soup, but the photos give me ideas to play with. I found one recently whose design was rather pretty and thought it would be perfect to adapt for the Daughter’s birthday cake.
Every year for her birthday, the Daughter requests an unusual cake. She comes up with a lot of crazy ideas, all requiring a lot of chocolate. I decided to make her a S’Mores Cheesecake, which is really a no-brainer adaptation of my regular Chocolate Cheesecake. Instead of using a chocolate cookie crumb crust, I used graham cracker crumbs. The filling was made with my favorite dark chocolate and one-and-a-half pounds of cream cheese. I used eight ounces of low-fat cream cheese to relieve the guilt, but, considering that I used another pound of regular cream cheese, it was a pointless effort; pure chocolate-cream-cheese-overload.
Instead of the cheesecake’s traditional sour cream topping, I decided to arrange marshmallows over the chilled cheesecake and toast them under the broiler, just before presenting to the Birthday Girl. You know those joke photos that people post on Facebook, “What the dish is supposed to look like,” and it’s worthy of Bon Appétit? But next to it is “How it turned out,” and it looks like it was made in a sandbox by a four-year old? That’s sort of what happened with this cheesecake.
I forgot that the center of the cheesecake falls when it cools. Normally, I pile berries in the cake’s center, which is rather pretty, but in order to arrange the marshmallows levelly, I had to cut off the top edges. Fortunately, the marshmallows hid the mess that I made. After the marshmallows were toasted, they melted and stuck to the ring of the springform pan. I had to shove escaping marshmallows back onto the cake.
Once the candles were lit, it was still pretty, but not worthy of Bon Appétit. The Daughter was delighted with her decadent birthday cake, and I have all those edges in my refrigerator, just crying out for a big old glass of milk, so who am I to complain? Life is good (mostly). Soli Deo Gloria!
1½ cups crushed graham cracker crumbs
3 Tablespoons sugar
½ cup butter, melted
In a 9” springform pan, combine the graham cracker crumbs and sugar. Stir in the melted butter; press into the bottom and ½” up the sides of the pan. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. The colder the better.
1½ pounds (3-eight ounce packages) cream cheese, softened
1¾ cups sugar
4 ounces of good quality semi-sweet chocolate, melted
3 Tablespoons heavy cream
¼ cup dark rum
In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese until fluffy. Add the sugar and beat, scraping the bowl and beater, until well-combined. With the mixer running, add eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly between each addition. Beat in the melted chocolate and heavy cream until thoroughly combined. Scrape the bowl and beaters so that there are no light-colored streaks left. Stir in dark rum.
Pour batter into chilled graham cracker crust and bake for 60 minutes. A toothpick inserted to ¼” in the center should come out clean, although it may jiggle a little.
[Note: If making plain chocolate cheesecake, skip to the directions below for the Sour Cream topping.]
Cool on rack completely to room temperature; cover; refrigerate until well-chilled. To make the S’mores dessert, cut the top edges off to make a level surface for the marshmallows. Save the excess and serve with vanilla ice cream or lightly sweetened whipped cream.
Just before serving, preheat broiler.
Without unmolding, run a spatula around the inside edge of the pan to loosen the sides of the cake. Arrange marshmallows on the top, covering it completely. Set under preheated broiler and toast marshmallows. If I ever make this again, I will let the marshmallows cool and run the knife around the edge again before unmolding and serving.
Optional Sour cream topping for regular chocolate cheesecake:
2 cups (1 pint) sour cream
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon almond extract
Stir together all ingredients. When cheesecake is baked, remove from oven and increase heat to 500°. Spread sour cream mixture evenly over top. Bake in hot oven for five minutes. Remove to cooling rack and cool thoroughly to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate until well-chilled. Garnish with strawberries in center of cake.