Saturday, October 29, 2011

Happy Birthday, June...with cherries on top!

I know, I know! We just ate like kings (or birthday queens) last night at The Handlebar, but I couldn't let my good friend June's birthday pass by without making her a special treat. Of course, her birthday was yesterday (Friday), so I needed to bake something on a school night (Thursday) when I don't even get home until about seven, after a quick stop at the store. So this is admittedly a bit of a "cheater" recipe, making use of a ready-made chocolate crust and canned cherry pie filling. But when you need something scrumptious (and impressive-looking, despite the pre-fab elements), this might just fill the bill.

June LOVES chocolate, and she is always crazy about cherry pie, so I thought a chocolate cherry cheesecake would be perfect. This was certainly close--only homemade crust and topping made from fresh cherries could put it over the top. I also think that this dessert would be fantastic for a Christmas gathering, especially with its dazzling holiday red color and ease of preparation during the harried season which will soon be upon us.

Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake‎

1 1/2 packages (12 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chips, melted
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
pinch of salt
3 eggs
1 dark chocolate cookie crust (Oreo brand is best if you're not making one from scratch)
1 can (21 oz.) cherry pie filling (Lucky Leaf brand--the premium variety with extra cherries--trust me on this)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon almond extract

1. In small mixing bowl beat cream cheese on medium speed of electric mixer until fluffy. Add sugar, chocolate, vanilla, and salt. Beat until combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until just combined after each addition.
2. Place crust on baking sheet. Pour cream cheese mixture into crust. Bake at 350°F for 25 to 30 minutes or until center is almost set.
3. Cool on wire rack for 1 hour. Mix cherry pie filling with vanilla and almond extracts. Spread pie filling over top. Refrigerate at least 3 hours before serving.

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