I wonít be able to make it home for the
holiday this year, so instead Iím having
a few friends over for Easter dinner.
Thereís nothing too complicated on the
menu: just a leg of lamb, roasted
potatoes and plenty of good wine.
That, and cheesecake.
When I was casting about for dessert
ideas, my mind stuck on cheesecake ó
chocolate cheesecake in particular.
I wanted something I could make in
advance, and cheesecake fit the bill.
But I also wanted it to be quick and
easy, so after a little thought, I
decided to ditch the traditional crumb
I donít know about you, but Iíve always
preferred the cheesecake to the crust,
Finally, I wanted something I could
serve with minimal fuss. So instead of
making one large cheesecake that I would
have to slice at the table, I decided to
make individual cheesecakes in ramekins
ó which are suggestive of Easter
With my mission clear, all I needed was
After some experimentation, and guided
by the tangy chocolate cheesecake in
Alice Medrichís terrific cookbook
Bittersweet, I hit upon the
I donít know if itís the platonic
chocolate cheesecake or not, but itís
extremely good and it sure couldnít be
Hereís what you do. Empty one 8-ounce
package of cream cheese into a food
processor and allow it to come to room
temperature (or something like it) while
you prepare the ramekins.
Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Butter
eight ramekins and set them in a baking
dish. Fill a tea kettle with enough
water to come halfway up the sides of
the ramekins. Put it on the stove to
heat while you prepare the batter.
Finely chop four ounces of best-quality
bittersweet chocolate. (For my
experiments, I used El Reyís 73.5
percent extra-bitter dark, available at
the Tempe Whole Foods.)
Measure two tablespoons of water into a
microwave-proof measuring cup. Heat in
the microwave until the water starts to
boil (about 20 seconds).
Stir the chocolate into the water. The
water should be hot enough to melt the
chocolate, but if itís not, return the
cup to the microwave for another five to
10 seconds, until the chocolate is
completely melted and smooth.
Pulse the cream cheese in the food
processor until smooth, scraping down
the sides of the bowl with a spatula as
necessary. Add a half cup of sugar and a
half teaspoon of vanilla extract and
Add one egg and pulse just until
incorporated into the batter. Scrape
down the sides of the bowl, then add
another egg and pulse again.
Now blend in the contents of one 8-ounce
container of sour cream.
Finally, scrape the chocolate mixture
into the batter and pulse just to blend.
If you beat in too much air at this
point, youíll have bubbles on the top of
your cakes (though theyíll still taste
Divide the batter among the ramekins,
taking a moment to wipe up any dribbles.
The water in your kettle should be
boiling or close to it; pour it into the
baking dish to come halfway up the sides
of the ramekins. Transfer the entire
assembly to the oven.
Bake at 325 degrees for about 35
minutes, until the cheesecakes are just
set but are still quite moist when
checked with a toothpick. Remove from
the oven and let cool in the water bath
for an hour.
Cover the ramekins with plastic wrap and
chill for at least three hours, or up to
48. Just before serving, you can garnish
the cheesecakes with jelly beans and
spun sugar, or dust the tops with cocoa
or powdered sugar.
Or simply serve them as is, which works