NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

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December 18, 2013

Make an indulgent cheesecake even more so for Christmas

Cheesecake by definition is rich and decadent. So we knew that if we were going to make a special cheesecake just for Christmas, it would need to be even richer and even more decadent.

So we started with an amazingly indulgent cheesecake base — a mere 32 ounces of cream cheese blended with a cup of sugar and six eggs — then spiked it not only with vanilla bean, but also chopped bittersweet chocolate. But this is not standard chocolate cheesecake.

In our recipe, the chocolate remains a distinct, deliciously toothsome confetti strewn throughout the cheesecake.

For that seasonal red and green we have come to expect from our Christmas treats, we top the finished cake with warm red currant jam and chopped pistachios. The result is as delicious as it is beautiful.

RED CURRANT AND CHOCOLATE CHEESECAKE

Start to finish: 71/2 hours (30 minutes active)

Servings: 16

6 ounces chocolate wafer cookies (two-thirds of a 9-ounce package)

2 tablespoons brown sugar

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, melted

Four 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

6 eggs

1 vanilla bean or 2 tablespoons vanilla extract

6 ounces chopped bittersweet chocolate

1/2 cup red currant jelly

1/4 cup chopped pistachios

Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Coat a deep, 10-inch cake pan with baking spray, then line the bottom with kitchen parchment.

In a food processor, combine the chocolate wafer cookies and brown sugar. Pulse until finely ground. Drizzle in the butter, and pulse to combine. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan and press evenly over the bottom. Bake for 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside. Lower the oven temperature to 300 degrees.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, use an electric mixer on medium-low to beat the cream cheese until smooth. Take care to not beat in any extra air, but to scrape down the bowl thoroughly to avoid any lumps. Add the granulated sugar and beat again, scraping the bowl thoroughly. Add the eggs one at a time, again incorporating gently, but thoroughly scraping the bowl.

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