Dark Chocolate Cheesecake with Red Chile Ganache

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When I posted this innocent pic on my Facebook page, I had no idea of the powerful desires that well up in the minds of chocolate-loving chileheads.  Many, many of these weirdos wanted the recipe, so I’m posting it here to feed their theobromine and capsaicin hungers!


Dark Chocolate Cheesecake with Red Chile Ganache

Mary Jane’s recipe is based on one by the Barefoot Contessa (Ina Garten), but the shoeless TV cook wouldn’t dare to use red chile powder! You will need a springform pan for this cake since it would be difficult to get it out of a regular cake pan in one piece. You can use semisweet chocolate instead of bittersweet in the filling and the cake will be slightly sweeter. Maybe a scoop of ice cream on the side when you serve it to guests?

The Graham Crust

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 10 crackers, crumbled)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

The Chocolate Filling

5 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1 tablespoon instant espresso coffee
1 3/4 pounds cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon real vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon real almond extract
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature

The Red Chile Ganache

2 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 tablespoon New Mexican red chile powder
1/4 cup heavy cream (or a little more if needed)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. To make the crust, place the graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, and cinnamon in a food processor and pulse until combined. Pour into a 9-inch springform pan. With your hands, press the crumbs into the bottom of the pan. Bake the pan for 12 minutes. Cool to room temperature.

Put the bittersweet chocolate in a ceramic bowl set over a pan of simmering water, or use a double boiler. Add the espresso and stir until the chocolate is just melted. Set aside until cooled to room temperature.

To make the filling, cream the cream cheese, sugar, cornstarch, vanilla and almond extracts, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Reduce the speed of the mixer to medium and add the eggs, 1 at a time, mixing well. Scrape down the bowl and beater, as necessary. With the mixer on low, add the sour cream, and the cooled chocolate mixture. Mix thoroughly and pour into the cooled crust.

Bake for 1 hour. Turn the oven off and allow the cake to sit in the oven with the door opened wide for 1 1/2 hours. Take the cake out of the oven and allow it to sit at room temperature, until completely cooled.

For the ganache, place the semisweet chocolate in a ceramic bowl set in a pan of simmering water, or use a double boiler. Add the red chile powder and stir it completely into the chocolate. Add the cream and stir into the melting chocolate. Set aside until cooled to room temperature.

Remove the cake from the springform pan by carefully running a hot knife around the outside of the cake. Leave the cake on the bottom of the springform pan for serving. Drizzle the ganache over the top of the cheesecake.

Yield 8 to 10 servings
Heat Scale: Mild


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Publisher | Christened the "Pope of Peppers" by The New York Times, Dave DeWitt is a food historian and one of the foremost authorities in the world on chile peppers, spices, and spicy foods.

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