Chocolate Orange Cheesecake

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The crust for this cheesecake is a great way to repurpose leftovers from your holiday cookie tins -- just pulse them in a food processor with sugar, mix with melted butter and press into the pan. This cheesecake is also the perfect "freezer dessert." It can be made weeks ahead and stored in the freezer until ready to serve. Spruce up each slice by topping with whipped cream, chocolate sauce and candied orange peel.
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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 4 hr 10 min (includes cooling and chilling times)
  • Active: 40 min
  • Yield: 6 servings
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Ingredients

Crust:

Filling:

Candied Orange Peel:

Directions

  1. For the crust: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray the bottom and sides of a 6- or 7-inch springform pan with nonstick baking spray with flour.
  2. Put the cookies, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until finely crushed, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. (Any large, stubborn bits of cookie can be crushed with the back of a spoon.) You should have about 1 heaping cup of crumbs.
  3. Put the cookie crumbs in a medium bowl. Add the melted butter and stir until combined and all the crumbs are moistened. Press the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan, using the flat bottom of a measuring cup to pack the crumbs down in an even layer and up the sides about 1/2 inch (or a little higher if using a 6-inch pan).
  4. Bake until set, about 12 minutes. Let the crust cool on a wire rack while you prepare the filling.
  5. For the filling: Combine the chocolate chips and milk in a large mug or other heatproof bowl. Microwave on high for 60 seconds. Remove from the microwave and use a small rubber spatula to stir in small circles until the mixture comes together and the chocolate chips are melted and smooth. Set aside.
  6. Add the cream cheese and sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (you may also use a large bowl and a handheld electric mixer or whisk). Beat on medium-low speed until combined and smooth, about 1 minute.
  7. Increase the speed to medium. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each until smooth and homogenous, using a rubber spatula to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl as needed.
  8. Reduce the speed to medium low and add the flour, orange liqueur, vanilla and orange zest.
  9. With the mixer running, drizzle in the melted chocolate. Mix until smooth, using a rubber spatula to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl as needed.
  10. Pour the filling into the pan and smooth the top. Bake until the sides of the cheesecake are set and the middle jiggles when shaken, about 40 minutes.
  11. Turn off the oven and open the door a few inches. Let the cheesecake remain in the warm oven with the door ajar for 30 minutes. Remove the cheesecake from the oven and allow it to sit at room temperature until no longer warm, about 30 minutes. Transfer the cheesecake to the refrigerator and let rest until completely chilled, about 2 hours, or until ready to serve.
  12. To unmold, run an offset spatula or butter knife around the edge of the pan. Carefully unlock the springform pan and remove the outer ring. Serve each slice with a dollop of whipped cream, chocolate sauce and some candied orange peel.
  13. The cheesecake should be stored in the refrigerator, covered, up to 3 days. The cheesecake may also be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and frozen for up to 2 months. Defrost the frozen cheesecake in the refrigerator prior to serving. 

Candied Orange Peel:

  1. Using a vegetable peeler, cut the orange peel into vertical, wide strips (save the inside of the orange for eating later!). Try to carefully shave off any of the bitter white pith with a paring knife. Cut the orange peel into 1/4-inch-wide strips.
  2. Put the orange peel in a small saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Allow to boil for 5 minutes then drain and rinse. Repeat this process a second time. This step removes any bitterness from the peel.
  3. Bring 1 cup of the sugar and 1 cup water to a simmer in the same small saucepan. Allow the sugar to dissolve, about 5 minutes. Add the blanched orange peels and simmer gently over low heat until the peels are softened and pith is translucent, 35 to 40 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, put the remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a bowl. Remove the peels from the syrup and dredge in the sugar (cool and store the leftover orange simple syrup for another use!). Shake off any excess sugar and place the peels on a wire baking rack set in a baking sheet. Allow to sit and dry out, uncovered, for a day or so.  

Cook’s Note

Be sure that your cream cheese and eggs are at room temperature. Room temperature ingredients combine more easily so you can mix them on low and without whipping in too much air. This ensures your cheesecake will have the creamy, dense texture that's the hallmark of a well-made cheesecake. This cheesecake is slightly smaller than most. To make an 8- or 9-inch cheesecake, double the recipe, use an 8- or 9-inch springform pan and increase the baking time by 10 minutes.

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