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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Craving Chocolate

Lately I've been craving just about anything sweet. I haven't really indulged in anything decadent since the wedding, but over the past few days I've been dreaming about chocolate waterfalls, and pudding rivers. So, since I had bought a bag of sweet cherries on sale at the local grocer last week, and they were still sitting in the fridge on the verge of “use them or lose them,” and there were still six packages of cream cheese leftover from a dessert we had never gotten around to making, I decided to make a chocolate cherry cheesecake. This is the first time I've attempted this chocolatey creation, but it was spectacular. I just had to share the recipe and I hope you enjoy licking your plates clean just as we did!

(Makes 1 Crust)
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 tbsp. sugar
¼ cup butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix together the graham crackers, sugar and melted butter. Press mixture into the bottom (and up the sides approx. ½ inch) of a 9-inch spring form pan. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Cool.

(Makes approx. 1 Cup of Sauce)
2 cups sweet cherries, stems removed, halved and pitted
1/3 cup sugar
3 tbsp. water
1 tsp. lemon juice

Place the cherries into the ceramic pot of a small slow-cooker. Add the water, lemon juice and sprinkle with 1/3 cup of sugar. Cover and cook on high for 1 – 1 ½ hours or until very soft.

Remove from cooking pot and blend in a food processor or blender until smooth. Press the puree through a strainer to remove any seeds and skins.

Cover and chill until needed. (This sauce can be stored for up to 5 days.)

(Makes 1 Cheesecake)
3 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
1 ¼ cup sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 eggs
1 ½ tsp. Vanilla extract

Beat the cream cheese, sugar and cocoa powder in a large bowl until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and then stir in the vanilla. Pour approximately one quarter of the filling into the prepared crust. Top this with one quarter cup of cherry sauce and then another quarter of the cheesecake filling. Layer another quarter cup of cherry sauce and then the remaining cheesecake filling. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 45 to 50 minutes, or until set. Remove from oven and loosen the sides from the pan with a knife. Cool completely and refrigerate several hours before serving.

**TIP** Cooking the cheesecake in a water bath will prevent it from cracking during the baking process.


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