Dark Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake

Dark Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake

1 1/4 cups fine crumbs of graham crackers or chocolate wafer cookies
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon water

8 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup brewed espresso or strong coffee
3/4 pound cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup cherry pie filling
Whipped dairy topping to garnish, optional

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Make the crust: In a medium mixing bowl, combine crumbs and 2 tablespoons sugar. Stir until combined. Add the melted butter and water; mix until completely incorporated. Spoon the crumb mixture into an 8-inch spring-form pan. Using fingertips, press evenly onto the pan bottom and 1/2-inch up the sides. Bake 12-15 minutes until the crust hardens slightly. Set aside to cool.

Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees. Place a 9-inch cake pan filled with water on the bottom oven rack.

Prepare the filling: In a heavy-bottomed pot, heat chocolate chips and coffee over lowest heat, stirring often, until chocolate is completely melted, 7-9 minutes. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Add 3/4 cup sugar and salt. Beat on medium speed 1 minute. Scrape down the sides and add the eggs one at a time, beating on medium for 30 seconds and scraping down the sides of the bowl between each addition. Add the vanilla. Add the melted chocolate mixture to the bowl, scrape down the sides once more and beat on medium speed 1 minute. Pour the batter into the prepared crust.

Bake 60-65 minutes or until the internal temperature is 170 degrees. Turn off the oven, let cake stand in oven for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, cool 20 minutes on a wire rack.

Refrigerate 1 hour. Freeze 1 hour. Cut into 12 slices, topping each slice with 1 tablespoon cherry pie filling just before serving.

Alternatively, after cheesecake refrigerates for 1 hour, pour entire can of cherry pie filling over cake and refrigerate 2 hours or until cake and topping are set.

Makes 12 servings.

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