Prep 1 hr 30 mins
Cook 1 hr 5 mins
This is THE cheesecake to make for a celebration. It's a bit of work, but the actual cheesecake must be made 2 days before serving, and the chocolate leaf garnish, a day ahead. It is gorgeous and your guests will be awed. A hint of orange from the Grand Marnier liqueur used to scent the chocolate.
- 5 ounces chocolate wafer cookies, broken up
- 1 cup walnuts
- 1⁄4 cup sugar
- 1 ounce good-quality chocolate, chopped
- 1⁄4 cup chilled butter, cut into pieces
- 5 ounces good-quality unsweetened chocolate, chopped
- 1⁄2 cup sugar
- 4 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature
- 5 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
- 1⁄4 cup whipping cream
- 4 teaspoons grated orange zest
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
- 7 ounces white chocolate, chopped finely
- 1⁄4 cup Grand Marnier (or other orange liqueur) or 1⁄4 cup Cointreau liqueur (or other orange liqueur)
Dark and White Chocolate Leaves
- 4 ounces good-quality semisweet chocolate, chopped
- 1 teaspoon Crisco
- 12 medium lemon leaves, wiped clean (you can get these at a florist's)
- 4 ounces white chocolate
- 1 orange
Whipped Cream Topping
- 2⁄3 cup chilled whipping cream
- 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
- 2 1⁄2 teaspoons Grand Marnier
- For crust: Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350 degrees F; place cookies, walnuts, sugar and chocolate in processor; process until finely chopped; add butter and process until moist crumbs form; transfer crumbs to a 10 inch springform pan; Press on bottom and 2 inches up sides of pan; set on cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes; transfer to rack and cool; maintain oven temperature.
- For filling: Melt unsweetened chocolate, stir until smooth; cool slightly; beat cream cheese with ½ cup sugar in large bowl until fluffy; add eggs, one at a time, beating until just incorporated; transfer 2 ½ cups plain batter to a medium-sized bowl and set aside; add brown sugar to batter remaining in large bowl and beat until combined; mix corn syrup, then melted chocolate into this batter; pour 2/3 cup of this batter into a small bowl and set aside; pour remainder of batter in big bowl into crust; set on cookie sheet and bake until filling is barely set, about 15 minutes; cool 5 minutes; scald cream with orange and lemon zests in small saucepan; remove from heat; add white chocolate and stir until melted and smooth; cool slightly; pour white chocolate mixture to reserved 2 ½ cups batter in medium bowl and stir; mix in liqueur; starting at outside edge, carefully spoon white batter over chocolate layer; set on cookie sheet and bake until sides are puffed and center moves only slightly when shaken, 35-40 minutes; cool 5 minutes; spoon reserved chocolate batter in the small bowl by tablespoonfuls into the center of white chocolate layer; using back of spoon, spread evenly to within ½ inch of cake edge; set on cookie sheet and bake 10 minutes; transfer to rack to cool; using small, sharp knife, cur around edge of pan sides to loosen; cool cheesecake completely in pan; ccover and refrigerate when completely cooled (prepare 2 days before you plan to serve this).
- For dark and white chocolate leaves: Line 2 cookie sheets with foil; place semisweet chocolate and ½ tsp Crisco in small bowl; melt; using small metal (offset works best) spatula or back of spoon, spread thin layer of chocolate over veined underside of 6 leaves, being careful not to drip any chocolate onto other side of leaf; [lace on 1 cookie sheet; chill until set, about 5 minutes; spread second, thin layer of chocolate on each leaf, remelting chocolate if necessary; refrigerate 30 minutes.
- Do the same with white chocolate.
- Starting at stem end, gently peel leaves off, leaving only chocolate imprint (can be prepared 1 day ahead; refrigerate in single layers in container).
- To make orange threads: Using vegetable peeler, remove orange peel in large strips; cut strips into fine, long julienne; blanch 30 seconds; drain well; dry thoroughly on paper towels (can be prepared 1 day ahead).
- To make whipped cream topping: Beat cream and sugar until soft peaks form; add liqueur and beat until stiff peaks form.
- To assemble this masterpiece: Release sides of pan from cheesecake; spoon whipped cream into pastry bag fitted with large star tip; pipe decorative border around edge of cake; set alternating white and dark chocolate leaves at a slight angle (with 1 edge barely inserted into cream) atop cream border and into dark part of cake; arrange orange threads decoratively on cake, curling them by giving them a couple of twists.
- Be brave enough to actually cut into this beauty cause it tastes delicious as well as being so gorgeous!