August marks the beginning of one of my very favorite times of year, as blistering heat ebbs and gives way to fresher air, bluer skies, and cooler breezes. Living in the valley, our mornings are often deceptively shrouded in thick fog, only to burn away into the clear light of day. As the season turns, my sister-in-law Sarah and her husband, Seth, take different tasks on their farm, like gathering fresh honey from their many hives. While I had originally intended to feature that glowing, liquid sweetness for today's article, an even more momentous occasion cropped up: Aaron's birthday.
|Increases happiness by at least 5%|
|Pour on as much as you like|
Adapted from Williams Sonoma
Make sure you have a leak-proof springform pan (or one heavily armored in aluminum foil), a large roasting pan it fits within, and a large kettle or saucepan with a spout, for easily pouring in the hot water. Thick silicon oven mitts are likewise invaluable.
For the crust:
16 tbs (2 sticks) cold butter, diced
1/2 c granulated sugar
1 1/2 c whole wheat flour (white would be fine, too)
1/2 c cocoa powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
For the cheesecake:
1 1/2 lbs cream cheese, room temperature
1 c granulated sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 lb sour cream, room temperature
2 tbs instant espresso powder
1 tbs cocoa powder
2 tsp vanilla paste or vanilla extract
For the glaze:
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
8 Tbs. (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 tsp sea salt
Pulse the butter, sugar, flour, cocoa powder, and salt in a food processor until the mixture resembles lightly dampened sand. Press the dough into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
|Rich, chocolatey doughvaltine|
Set a large pot or kettle of fresh water on the boil.
|Sunny side up|
|Thick ribbons of batter on a craggy crust|
Bake the cheesecake for 1 1/2 hours, until the cake expands and rises. The center should be lightly set, with just some slight gelatinous wobble, not the liquid ripple of raw batter. It should smell distinctly heavenly.
Carefully remove the cheesecake pan from the water bath to a wire rack and cover loosely with a sheet of parchment paper. Allow to cool to room temperature for at least 1 1/2 hours, the pan should be cool to the touch, and the cake should deflate slightly and pull away from the edges of the pan. Cover closely with plastic wrap and transfer to a refrigerator to chill overnight.
For the glaze, warm a small, heavy saucepan over low heat. Add the butter and stir until completely melted, then stir in the brown sugar and salt. Heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar dissolves. Turn the heat up to high and bring to a boil. Stir constantly until the sugar dissolves completely into the butter and forms a rich, thick, creamy caramel; then remove from the heat. Allow to cool to just above room temperature, about 10-15 minutes.
|One could cut the tension with a knife|