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A showstopper. And I promise it's not overly finicky to make (or I wouldn't have). This cheesecake is thick and dense, with a cakey feel rather than a jiggly jello one. The base is a standard vanilla cheesecake swirled with red velvet cheesecake, and it's all set proudly on top of a chocolate wafer cookie base. Fantastic.



Ingredients: 9 ounces chocolate wafer cookies, 1/2 cup melted butter, four 8-ounce packages of cream cheese at room temperature (1 lb.), four eggs at room temperature, 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream, 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, 1 1/4 cups sugar, 2 tsp. vanilla extract, 1/4 tsp. sea salt, 1-ounce liquid red food coloring, 2 tbsp. cocoa powder, and 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar.

Makes one 9-inch cheesecake, serving 8-10.

1. Preheat oven to 350* F. Line the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper.

2. Make the crust: Blitz chocolate wafer cookies and melted butter in a food processor until you have wet sand. Press into the bottom of the pan, leaving a 1-inch lip around the perimeter. A pint glass works well for this. Bake for 10 minutes, then set aside to cool. Turn the oven down to 300*.

3. If your cream cheese feels cool, your cheesecake will be lumpy. Microwave it gently at half power until lukewarm, about 30-45 seconds. Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese until very smooth. Add in the sugar, beating on medium speed and scraping down the sides of the bowl.

4. Add in the eggs, one at a time, until well incorporated, followed by the vanilla and salt. Again, scrape down the sides. Slowly add the whipping cream, alternating with the flour until fully incorporated.

5. Remove a cup of batter to a separate bowl and mix in the cocoa powder, cream of tartar, and red food coloring until completely mixed in and there are no streaks of red.

5. Pour the vanilla cheesecake batter over the prepared crust. Place large spoonfuls of red velvet cheesecake batter over the top and swirl it in, using a wooden skewer or sharp knife. Bake the cheesecake using my "wet towel method" (see tips below) for 1 hour and 40 minutes. Remove to cool for 1 hour at room temperature before refrigerating for at least 4 hours before serving.


Wet Towel Method: (I like this method because it does not involve a water bath yet still provides enough steam and all-over heat for the cheesecake to cook perfectly.) Wet down 2 dish towels or 3 thinner hand towels. Wring them out only a little so they are still very wet but not sopping. Wrap the towels around the springform pan, overlapping each other if necessary. Bake as directed. Use towels you do not care about; they will color a little in the heat.

Once you pour the cheesecake batter into the pan, tap it on the counter to dispel any air bubbles. If any rise to the surface, pop them gently with a knife before baking.

Do NOT open the oven for any reason until the time is up.

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