Double Chocolate Cheesecake with Berry Compote

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Double Chocolate Cheesecake with Berry Compote

 I'm re-discovering my love of cherries.  As a child, I would tag along with my parents when they picked sweet cherries from the tall tree planted on a little knoll overlooking the small berg where I grew up. Mostly I ate and they picked. Then in later years, we would order 25-pound boxes of them, freshly picked from the Great Lakes.  My dad and I would sit on the porch swing, a tray of berries in our lap as our fingers plied the stubborn pits from the plump fruit. Meanwhile, mom readied the canning jars and started the process of preserving the fruit.

And then there were the sour cherries, which mom favored for use in cherry pie and in our family's heirloom dish of cherry pot pie (a cooked mixture of sour cherries and dumplings, eaten with milk). These cherries were pitted, then frozen in boxes so we would have them all year long.

When we moved to North Carolina, I got away from the habit of using cherries. They were not as readily available as in Ohio, and it was a touch of the past that faded into the background of my memories. Even cherry pot pie, which had appeared on our table almost weekly, disappeared from the menu.  And then, while cooking my way through What Katie Ate on the Weekend I discovered a recipe for Double Chocolate Cheesecake, topped with cherries. Something stirred in my mind, and all of a sudden, those cherry-picking memories from childhood came flooding back.

As I stood over the sink, pitting the cherries for this cheesecake, I could almost sense my dad standing beside me, his strong, work-worn hands deftly pushing out the seeds and plopping the pitted fruit into a stainless steel bowl. And when I stirred the compote, the smell of those cherries cooking brought back a scene of my mom, her tiny frame hovering over the stove, canning hundreds of jars of sweet cherries.

So I'm bringing back cherries to my dinner table.  And what better way than in the form of this show-stopping cheesecake that tastes every bit as good as it looks?

Double Chocolate Cheesecake with Berry Compote


9 ounces Oreo cookies
3/4 cup almond meal
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup good-quality dark chocolate (I used 72% cacao)
1/2 cup good-quality milk chocolate (I used Swiss milk chocolate)
2 cups, plus one tablespoon cream cheese, softened
1 cup sour cream
4 eggs
1 cup, plus 2 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
4 teaspoons amaretto (or you can use 1 teaspoon vanilla, instead)

Berry Compote

9 ounces fresh cherries, pitted
9 ounces strawberries, hulled and halved (I used blackberries instead)
5 1/2 ounces red raspberries
4 teaspoons lime juice
3 tablespoons fine white sugar


Preheat oven to 325 F and grease and line the base and sides of a spring-form pan. Wrap the outside of the pan with foil, sealing it securely.

Whiz the Oreos and almond meal in the bowl of a food processor to fine crumbs. Add the butter and pulse to combine. Press this mixture evenly into the base of the prepared pan and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Melt the dark and milk chocolate in a heatproof bowl that fits snugly over a saucepan of gently simmering water, then set aside to cool slightly.

Beat the cream cheese and sour cream in a stand mixer on low-medium speed for 1 - 2 minutes until smooth and combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition until incorporated. Add the brown sugar, cream and amaretto and beat on low speed for one minute. Beat in the melted chocolate until combined. Pour the batter onto the cookie base and tap the pan gently on a counter top to remove any bubbles. Place cake pan in a large roasting pan and pour enough cold water in the roasting pan to come up 1-inch on the side of the cake pan. Carefully transfer to the oven and bake for 1 1/2 hours or until set at the edges with a slight wobble in the center. Leave in the switched-off oven to cool for 1 hour with the door slightly ajar, then remove and cool to room temperature, before chilling in the fridge for one hour (or overnight).

Berry Compote
Place all the ingredients in a heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low-medium and simmer for 3 minutes or until the fruit is soft but still holding its shape. Drain for 5 minutes over a bowl, reserving the syrup. Place the syrup in the pan and simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes or until thick and glossy, then gently fold into the fruit and set aside to cool completely.

Sit the cheesecake on a large plate and remove the pan, then top with berry compote and serve. (You may add a garnish of whipped cream, if desired.)

Recipe and directions by Katie Quinn Davies in her second cookbook,  What Katie Ate on the Weekend.

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