Liqueur Chocolate Cheesecake

For the crust:
6 oz crushed chocolate wafers
1/4 Cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted

For the cheesecake:
24 oz (3 packages) cream cheese, softened at room temperature
1 Cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1/4 Cup Kahlua or Bailey’s Irish Cream liqueur
1 tsp Vanilla Paste
6 oz (or approx 1 Cup) semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted and cooled slightly
1/2 Cup sour cream

For the ganache:
8 oz of good quality semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 Cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp Kahlua or Bailey’s Irish Cream

To make crust:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly butter the sides and bottom of a 9-inch round springform pan.  Use a fork to combine the chocolate cookie crumbs and melted butter until you have a semi-solid, sticky rough “dough” for the crust. Transfer cookie-crumb mixture to the prepared pan and press the crust evenly and firmly across the entire bottom of the springform pan. Bake crust for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and place on wire rack, allowing it to cool slightly.

To make cheesecake:
Using an electric mixer on low-medium speed, beat together the packages of softened cream cheese and sugar, until ingredients are thoroughly combined and mixture is very smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, beating at least one minute after each addition, then add the liqueur and vanilla, mixing well. Mix in the melted chocolate, then add the sour cream.

Use a spatula to transfer the chocolate cheesecake batter to the springform pan, spreading the batter evenly across the baked, cooled crust. If the pan seems a little full of cheesecake batter, place springform pan on a rimmed baking sheet.

Bake the cheesecake for 15 minutes at 350°F, then reduce oven temperature to 200°F. Bake cheesecake for 2 hours at the lower temperature.

Turn off the oven. Remove cheesecake from oven and gently run a thin knife around the inside edge of the pan. This will make it much easier to remove the sides of the springform pan later on.

Return the cheesecake to the oven, and leave it inside with the heat off for 2 hours. This will allow the cheesecake to cool to room temperature, as the oven slowly cools, without the surface of the dessert cracking. (And if the top surface cracks don’t worry, it will be covered with the ganache.)

Remove the cooled cheesecake from the oven.

Make the ganache:
Use a microwave-safe bowl and combine the heavy cream and chocolate chips — microwave mixture for 1 minute. Remove bowl and stir briefly, then microwave mixture again for another 15 seconds, and stir. Repeat this process of heating at 15-second intervals, checking and stirring between, until the chocolate cream mixture is smooth in texture. Add your choice of liqueur and stir to incorporate. Pour chocolate liqueur mixture over the surface of the cheesecake, covering the top with about a 1/4″ layer of ganache.

Cover springform pan loosely with foil or plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator overnight.

Before serving, I like to simmer down a cup or two of fresh raspberries with a little raspberry jam to make a drizzle for the plate, which is beautiful underneath a slice of the cheese cake.

You can substitute strong brewed coffee for Kahlua.