1 package Oreo cookies or something similar. I bought the generic ones.
3 tablespoons butter melted
4 packages cream cheese softened (Get the real stuff! This is not the time for low fat cream cheese.)
1 cup heavy whipping cream divided
¾ cup white sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 can cherry pie filling
1 cup chocolate chips semisweet
Preheat oven to 325.
Chop the cookies in your blender. The blender makes quick work of this otherwise tedious and awful job. You want to end up with 2 cups of cookie crumbs. It took ¾ of the package of cookies for me, but could take more or less for you, depending on how fine you want the crumbs to be.
Add the melted butter to the cookie crumbs and pulse it a bit more to blend everything together.
Press the cookie crumbs into the bottom and sides of a springform pan. Aim to go about halfway up the sides and make it thin and uniform across the bottom of the pan.
If you haven’t already softened the cream cheese, put it in a medium bowl and microwave it for 30 seconds at a time, until it is soft enough to work with. (I used my stand mixer to mix the cream cheese and associated ingredients. I recommend that option, but if you don’t have one, you could use a whisk or spatula. Prepare to have a sore arm.)
Beat the cream cheese in your mixer until it is smooth. Just the cream cheese for now; don’t add anything to it.
Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat just until they are fully incorporated. Don’t over beat the mixture. Beating too much will add air to your cheesecake, and that will make it rise too much in the oven and crack as it cools. Not the end of the world, but it looks nicer if it doesn’t crack. And also, mine almost always cracks, so don’t feel bad if it does.
Add ½ cup of the heavy cream along with the sugar and almond extract and beat until the mixture is smooth and evenly blended.
Carefully pour a little more than half of the cream cheese mixture on top of the crust in the springform pan. Tap the pan on your counter a bit to work out air bubbles.
Very carefully pour the can of cherry pie filling over the cream cheese mixture and spread it to the edges of the springform pan.
Pour the rest of the cream cheese mixture over the cherry pie filling and smooth it out, again to the edges of the pan. Tap the pan on the counter again to work out any air bubbles.
Place the springform pan in the middle of the oven, and put a cookie sheet or casserole dish underneath to catch the drips. THERE WILL BE DRIPS. Bake your cheesecake for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Mine took 1 hour and 25 minutes, but you should start checking it after an hour or so.
When the outer half of the cheesecake is golden brown, the cheesecake is done. The center will still be soft and jiggle, but it will firm up while cooling. Turn the oven off and prop the oven door open a couple of inches. Let the cheesecake sit in the partially open oven for an hour to cool. Cooling it gently like this helps to prevent cracking.
After an hour or so, remove the cheesecake from the oven and set it on a wire cooling rack. At this point, I run a knife around the edge of the cheesecake to free it from the springform pan, and I remove the pan sides. If you’re in a hurry, you can move the cheesecake to the freezer at this point, but it’s better to let it cool in the fridge overnight.
When the cheesecake is cool, prepare the ganache. Microwave ½ cup heavy cream with 1 cup of chocolate chips for 30 seconds. Use a fork to stir and smoosh the chocolate chips into the cream. Microwave again for 30 seconds and repeat. If there are still solid chips in the mixture, you can microwave it a third time, but I’ve never had to microwave more than twice.
Place the cheesecake on a serving platter, and pour the ganache over its top, encouraging it to pour down over the sides. It makes a very nice presentation with the chocolate all around it on the platter. You can also add whole cherries while the ganache is hot and runny.
Refrigerate the chocolate-covered cheesecake for a minimum of 3 hours or overnight. If you need it sooner (like I did), you can chill it more quickly in the freezer for an hour or two to set the ganache and chill the cheesecake, but t is risky. It’s better to make a day early and chill in the fridge.