Cheesecake is a favorite in my family so I'm always looking for new spins on the classic. As a chocolate lover I couldn't resist creating a totally chocolate cheesecake, and it doesn't even require you to turn on the oven. The texture is dense and luscious, so you'll never suspect that this cheesecake is a no-bake version.
For the crust: Prepare a 9-inch springform pan by turning the base of the pan over so that the lip of the base is on the underside. Lock pan in place. Spray the pan with cooking spray and place a round of parchment in the bottom.
Stir the cookie crumbs, sugar, cocoa and salt together in a medium bowl. Stir in the melted butter until the crumbs are evenly moistened. Pour the crumbs into the prepared pan. Start by pressing the crumbs all the way up the sides of the pan so that they are just under a 1/4 inch thick. Spread the remaining crumbs evenly across the bottom of the pan. Use a flat-bottom glass or measuring cup to compact the bottom and sides of the crust. Refrigerate the crust while you prepare the filling.
For the filling: Melt the chocolate in a double boiler set over (not in) simmering water. Set aside to cool.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese at medium-high speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Stop and scrape the bowl and paddle. Add the sugar, cocoa and salt and combine on low speed. Raise the speed to medium-high and beat for 30 seconds. Scrape the sides of the bowl.
Add the heavy cream and vanilla and mix on low speed until combined. Raise the speed to medium-high and beat for 30 seconds. Add the cooled chocolate and mix on low until combined. Scrape the bowl. Turn the mixer to high speed and beat for 30 seconds.
Scrape the filling into the chilled crust and spread it towards the edge of the pan. Use an offset
spatula to spread the filling up against the edge of the crumb crust and smooth the top. Set
aside while preparing the ganache.
For the ganache: Place the chopped chocolate in a small bowl. Place the cream in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat until just simmering. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and cover the bowl; let sit for 1 minute. Uncover and whisk gently until smooth. Pour the ganache over the top of the cheesecake and gently tip the pan to so the ganache to spreads to the edge of the crust. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours or preferably overnight; to avoid ruining the surface of the ganache, do not cover the cheesecake until the ganache has set, and then do so carefully.
To unmold the cheesecake, gently run a butter knife between the edge of the ganache and the pan. Unlatch the pan, remove the ring and gently slide and offset spatula between the cheesecake and the pan bottom. Remove the parchment and place the cheesecake on a serving plate. Arrange the strawberry halves in a ring around the top of the cheesecake if using. For neat slices, cut the cheesecake with a sharp knife dipped in warm water and dried.