Strawberry Dark Chocolate Cheesecake
- 1 cup chocolate graham cracker crumbs
- 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar, packed
- 2 tablespoons dark cocoa powder
- pinch or coarse salt
- ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
- ¼ cup Nutella
- 3 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
- ¾ cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ¾ cup heavy whipping cream
- 6 ounces dark chocolate, melted
- 1 cup fresh strawberries, washed and stemmed
- 3 tablespoons granulated white sugar
- 1 envelope unflavored gelatin (about 2-1/2 teaspoons)
- ¼ cup cold water
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup fresh whole strawberries (for garnish)
- Lightly coat a 10-inch springform or cheesecake pan with cooking spray. Set aside.
- Combine together graham crumbs, dark brown sugar, cocoa powder and salt. Stir in melted butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Chill for at least 1 hour or until firm.
- Once crust is firm, spread surface with Nutella. Chill until filling is ready.
- Using paddle attachment, beat cream cheese on low speed until smooth and creamy. Increase speed to medium and beat in sugar and vanilla, until light and fluffy.
- Whip cream until it nearly reached stiff peak stage.
- Alternately fold stiffly whipped cream and melted chocolate into cream cheese mixture. Carefully spoon over Nutella layer, spreading evenly until top is smooth. Chill for at least 1 hour or until firm.
- While cream cheese layer is chilling, slice strawberries and combine with sugar in a bowl. Allow to masticate for 20 to 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, sprinkle gelatin over half of cold water and allow to bloom.
- Transfer masticated strawberries into a pan and add remaining water. Cook over low heat until strawberries are soft. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Pour into a blender and pulse until finely pureed. Pass strawberry mixture through a wire mesh or sieve, discarding any pulps. Save only the liquefied portion. Return pureed strawberries into pan and add dissolved gelatin. Cook over low heat, with frequent stirring, until thickened. Remove pan from heat and stir in vanilla. Allow to cool slightly, making sure that strawberry mixture is still pourable.
- Pour over chilled cream cheese mixture and smoothen top. Arrange whole or halved strawberries over strawberry layer, pressing strawberries gently into layer to adhere.
- Chill cheesecake for at least 8 hours or overnight until thoroughly set.
- Gently run a knife along the sides of pan to loosen cake. Remove pan sides. Cut cheesecake into wedges before serving.
- As variation, chill cheesecake after spreading strawberry layer, for at least 1 hour. Whip about ¾ cup heavy whipping cream with ¼ cup confectioners’ sugar and ¼ cup Nutella and pipe along the borders of cake top. Arrange strawberries inside ring of whipped cream rosettes. Lightly dust strawberries with sifted dark cocoa powder.
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