"You only live once, so do it."
These are the only words written by Anna Thomas in The Vegetarian Epicure Book Two to describe the chocolate rum cheesecake. They are also pretty good words for a 30th birthday. It is a milestone. A reminder to take life and live it. To do things that scare us. To do things that make us happy. To take risks for ourselves. To eat cheesecake. And this cheesecake is definitely the one you want to eat.
Yesterday was Mr. Man's 30th birthday. I know that when I turn 30 I am probably going to be a mess. Who am I kidding? I am mess every year I on my birthday. I really do not enjoy getting older. I will soon be taking off to Never Never Land for people in their 20's. Whoops, this isn't supposed to be about me.
What I was getting at is that Mr. Man seems to be handling it pretty well. And so, even though it is a day later, I want to wish him happy birthday again and let him know how much I love him. Thank you for being a part of my life.
You can all now go vomit after that display of gushy emotion. I'll give you a moment and meet you right back here.
Mamacita has been making this cheescake for special occasions for quite some time now. The recipe below reflects her changes over the years to the original. It is quite good. So dream up some reason to make it. You only live once, you know.
Chocolate Rum Cheesecake
adapted from Vegetarian Epicure by Anna Thomas
I like to really taste the rum, so I use more than Anna Thomas calls for. I use a half cup. Use less if you don't really like to taste the alcohol. Or if you are using really good quality highly flavorful rum, you might want to use less than half a cup too. Oh, who am I kidding? If you have really good rum laying around you probably want to taste it. Use the half cup. Take a risk.
1 1/2 packages graham crackers (about 15), crushed
1/4-1/2 c. almonds, pecans, or walnuts, finely ground or chopped (optional, but if you don't include them, reduce the butter)
1 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 c. plus 3 Tbs. sugar
1.2 c. plus 2 Tbs. butter, softened to room temperature
1 1/2 lbs. cream cheese (3 packages), softened to room temperature
1/2 lbs. semi-sweet chocolate
3 Tbs. heavy cream
2 c. sour cream
1/4-1/2 c. dark rum
3/4 tsp. vanilla or almond extract
1 c. confectioners' sugar
1 c. fresh fruit such as strawberries, blackberries, or raspberries
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
Mash the graham cracker by hand (using a potato masher) or give them a quick whirl in your food processor until most of the crackers are a fine dust. Grind the almonds or other nut in a coffee grinder and then mix them in with the graham crackers in a medium sized bowl. Add in 3 Tbs. of sugar, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, and 1/2 tsp. nutmeg and mix well. Then add in the butter and mix it together with your hands. Once it is well blended press it lightly into the bottom of a cheese cake pan and set it aside.
Put the cream cheese into a large bowl and beat it with an electric mixer until it is fluffy. Then slowly add in the rest of the sugar, 2 c. and the three eggs. Continue to mix at a medium high speed until the mixture is smooth and no clumps of cream cheese remain. Set this aside.
Put the chocolate into a small saucepan along with the heavy cream and heat it, while stirring continuously, over low heat. Once the chocolate has completely melted add it into the cream cheese mixture and beat it well. Them add the sour cream and beat again. Them add the rum, vanilla or almond extract, and cinnamon and give it one more whirl under the mixer for a few minutes.
Pour the entire thing into the cheesecake pan and bake it in the oven for 55 minutes to an hour.
While the cake bakes go ahead and mix the remaining cup of sour cream with the cup of confectioners sugar and set it aside (just not in the refrigerator). Also, go ahead and rinse your berries. Cut them in half, if you are using strawberries.
Once it is done, allow the cake to cool completely, either on the counter or in the refrigerator (if you are impatient like me). Once it is cool, carefully remove the sides of the pan.
You can easily remove any tough, over-cooked parts along the top outer edge (and eat them) and smooth the top so it is flat if you like. I didn't bother with the smoothing part. You will be adding the sour cream mixture over the top next anyway so that kind of evens it out for you.
Once you have the sour cream mixture spread over the top, but not the sides of the cake, go ahead and arrange your fruit on the top in any manner you see fit.
Enjoy. And don't feel guilty about it.