Chocolate and cherries are an undeniably great combo and this black forest cheesecake is a great vehicle for showcasing this delightful pairing. The crust is an easy-peasy chocolate cookie crust with sugar to amp up the sweetness just a bit. It takes a short rest in the freezer after it is pressed into the pan, so that it keeps its shape while baking. The filling is also super simple, as long as you remember to bring all of your ingredient to room temp before you begin assembly and to mix them on a low speed.
Cheesecakes get a bad rap as being difficult to make and finicky, but they really don’t have to be (and there is always whipped cream to hide any imperfections on the top of the cake—should they exist!). Moreover, this particular recipe does not require a water bath, which makes baking the filling just that much easier.
The finished cake does need to cool down in the oven (turning the oven off, but keeping the cheesecake inside insures it will not crack from a drastic drop in temperature), but you can make your compote and mise en place your whipped cream while it does.
- 9 ounces chocolate wafer cookies (about 45 two-inch thin wafer cookies)
- 3 tablespoons, plus 1/3 cup granulated sugar (divided)
- 1 1/4 teaspoons fine sea salt (divided)
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter (melted)
- 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 2 cups heavy cream (divided)
- 24 ounces cream cheese (at room temperature)
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 4 large eggs (at room temperature)
- 3 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 5 cups sweet cherries (fresh or frozen)
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 7 tablespoons Kirsch (divided)
- 3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
Gather the ingredients and preheat your oven to 350 F.
Grease a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray or softened butter.
To make the crust, place the wafer cookies, 3 tablespoons of the granulated sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt in a food processor fitted with the metal blade and process until fine crumbs form. Add the melted butter and process until combined, scraping the bowl periodically with a rubber spatula, if necessary.
Add the melted butter and process until combined, scraping the bowl periodically with a rubber spatula, if necessary.
Transfer the crumbs to the prepared pan and firmly press the crumbs into the bottom and 3/4 of the way up the sides of the pan. Place the crust in the freezer for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, place the chocolate and 1/2 cup of the heavy cream in a small microwave safe bowl and microwave on high in 30 second bursts, until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
Bake the crust for 8 to 10 minutes, rotating at the halfway point until dry and fragrant.
To prepare the cheesecake filling, in the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the cream cheese, light brown sugar, vanilla and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and mix on medium-low speed until smooth, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula, as needed.
Reduce the speed to low and add the eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition until incorporated, and scraping down the bowl as needed.
Stir the flour into the cooled chocolate mixture.
Add the chocolate mixture to the stand mixer bowl and mix on low until just combined.
Transfer the filling to the prepared pan and place it on a cookie sheet in the oven. Bake for about 55 to 60 minutes, until the edges are set, but the middle jiggles just a bit.
Turn the oven off, crack the oven door, and leave the cheesecake in the oven to cool for one hour. After one hour, remove cheesecake from oven, and let cool on the counter at room temperature.
For the toppings, place the cherries, 1 /3 cup of the granulated sugar, remaining 1/4 teaspoon of the salt, cornstarch, and 1/4 cup of the Kirsch in a medium saucepan on the stovetop over medium-high heat and cook until the sugar melts and the cherries burst and release their juice, stirring frequently, about 30 minutes. Cool to room temperature.
Place the remaining 1 1/2 cups of the heavy cream, confectioners’ sugar, a few tablespoons of the cherry juice from the compote and the 3 tablespoons of the remaining Kirsch, in the now clean bowl of the stand mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, and whisk until medium peaks form.
To serve, spread the Kirsh whipped cream over the cooled cheesecake. Serve immediately or chill, tightly covered, in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Serve slices of cheesecake with a generous spoonful or two of the cherry compote.
- The cheesecake and toppings will last for up to three days refrigerated and tightly wrapped in plastic wrap.
- You can make the crust, press it into the pan and freeze it, tightly wrapped in plastic wrap up to several days in advance of making the cheesecake.
- Use a couple of drops of red food coloring, rather than the cherry juice, to amp up the color of the cream.
- Make the crust with graham crackers or vanilla wafers (the same amount in weight as the chocolate cookies) if you would like.
- If you do not like Kirsch, you may leave it out.