Preparation time: 40 mins
Cooking time: 55 mins plus chilling
Difficulty: Easy - for beginners
Serves: 12 servings
â€¢1 package (9 ounces) chocolate wafer cookies, crushed
â€¢3/4 cup sugar, divided
â€¢1/2 cup butter, melted
â€¢2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened, divided
â€¢1 teaspoon vanilla extract, divided
â€¢1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
â€¢2 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled
â€¢1-1/3 cups sour cream, divided
â€¢1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
â€¢1/4 cup chopped pecans
â€¢1 package (3 ounces) cream cheese, softened
â€¢1/4 teaspoon almond extract
â€¢5 ounces semisweet chocolate, divided
â€¢1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
â€¢1/2 cup white baking chips
â€¢2 teaspoons canola oil
â€¢Mint leaves, optional
â€¢Combine the wafer crumbs, 1/4 cup sugar and butter. Press onto the bottom and 2 in. up the sides of 9-in. springform pan; set aside.
â€¢ In a small bowl, beat one 8-oz. package cream cheese, 1/4 cup sugar and 1/3 teaspoon vanilla until smooth. Lightly beat 1 egg; add to cream cheese mixture and beat on low speed just until combined. Stir in melted chocolate and 1/3 cup sour cream. Spoon over crust.
â€¢ In another bowl, beat second 8-oz. package of cream cheese, brown sugar, flour and 1/3 teaspoon vanilla until smooth. Lightly beat 1 egg; add to cream cheese mixture and beat on low speed just until combined. Stir in pecans. Carefully spoon over chocolate layer. Place pan on a baking sheet.
â€¢ Beat 3-oz. package of cream cheese, almond extract, and remaining sugar, sour cream and vanilla until smooth. Lightly beat remaining egg; add to cream cheese mixture and beat on low speed just until combined. Carefully spoon over pecan layer.
â€¢ Bake at 325° for 55-60 minutes or until center is almost set. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Carefully run a knife around edge of pan to loosen; cool 1 hour longer. Refrigerate overnight.
â€¢ For glaze, chop 3 oz. semisweet chocolate and place in a small bowl. In a small saucepan, bring cream just to a boil. Pour over chocolate; whisk until smooth. Remove sides of springform pan; spread glaze over top of cheesecake to within 1/2 in. of edges. Refrigerate until serving.
â€¢ For chocolate curls, melt remaining semisweet chocolate; spread with a spatula into a very thin layer on a baking sheet. Chill for 2 minutes or until set.
â€¢Microwave white chips and oil at 70% power for 1 minute; stir. If necessary, microwave at additional 10-15 second intervals, stirring until melted. Spread with a spatula into a very thin layer on a second baking sheet. Chill for 2 minutes or until set.
â€¢ To make curls, push a metal spatula firmly along the baking sheet, under the chocolate, so the chocolate curls as it is pushed. (If chocolate is too firm to curl, let stand a few minutes at room temperature; refrigerate again if it becomes too soft.) Use a toothpick to carefully place each chocolate curl on a waxed paper-lined baking sheet. Refrigerate until ready to use.
â€¢ Arrange chocolate curls on top of cheesecake just before serving. Garnish with raspberries and mint if desired. Yield: 12 servings.