Baked Chocolate Cheesecake—Prototype 22 (7-Way Chocolate):
This one has many similarities to Prototype 20, but not only did I use xanthan gum in place of arrowroot (along with a few other 2017 overhauls), I also felt like simplifying the batter installments (details below).
3-Cheese Blend (3CT-1NC-2YG):
Prepare ahead of time 16 ounces of yogurt cheese, derived from one 32-ounce container of nonfat yogurt. If the resulting yogurt cheese falls below 16 ounces, add back enough of the whey (that was strained out from the yogurt) to make up the difference. To this yogurt cheese combine 24 ounces of whipped, lowfat cottage cheese and 8 ounces of softened Neufchatel cheese ("light cream cheese").

Grease a 9 1/2" (or 9") pan, but do not wrap foil around it until just before the batter is added (spreading the crust in an already wrapped pan can result in greater disturbance to the foil, thus increasing leakage risks).

Chocolate Crust:
4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, melted
3/8 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
8 oz. (1 cup) 3-cheese blend (see above)
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 oz. finely ground All-Bran

Place the resulting mixture in the greased pan and pre-bake without tub at 300 degrees for 5-10 minutes, depending on the mixture's thickness (closer to 10 minutes if thin enough to be fully distributed across the pan's bottom by gentle shaking, closer to 5 minutes if thick enough to require spreading out this mixture by pressing on it with a utensil and/or fingers), then cool enough to comfortably touch at least the pan's upper sidewall.

Chocolate Batter:
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
3/8 cup cocoa powder
40 oz. (5 cups) 3-cheese blend (see above)
1 1/2 teaspoons xanthan gum
2 teaspoons vanilla
6 eggs

Double-chocolate sandwich cookies (such as Newman's Own), about 2 dozen

Expect just over 7 cups of the resulting chocolate batter, but do not add this to the pan all at once. Rather, this needs to be done in two installments. Wrap the pan in foil just before adding the first installment. Minimize the foil's disturbance in order to minimize its leakage risk.

For the first installment, start off by gently scooping some batter into the pan just until the crust is fully coated. Afterwards, lay flat about 6 cookies onto this batter. Then add more batter, coating these cookies well. Lay flat another 6 cookies, but try to place them such that they are not overlapping any of the first layer of cookies. Coat this second layer as well with additional batter. Next, add a third layer of about 6 cookies, laying them flat also. Try to avoid overlapping the second layer. However, it is okay (and encouraged) if they are directly above the first layer of cookies. Add more batter, coating the third layer. Finally, add a fourth layer of about 6 cookies—laying these flat too—and try to avoid overlap with the third layer cookies, but feel free to position the fourth layer's directly above those of the second. Fully coat this final cookie layer, and—with the rest of the batter less roughly 1 1/2 to 2 cups—try to make the top surface of the batter reasonably level within the pan (it's okay if some of the cookies float upward and protrude a bit, but make sure that they are still lying horizontally).

After this is done, bake the pan with its contents at 325 degrees for 30 minutes, in a tub filled with at least about 1/2 inch of boiling water. To reduce spillage risks, do not fill the tub all the way at this point, because the whole tub-and-pan assembly is going to need to be removed from the oven (in order to comfortably add contents to the pan) for the next installment.

For that second (final) installment, gently add the remaining 1 1/2 to 2 cups of batter to the pan (no additional cookies at this point). Then add some chocolate syrup (such as Trader Joe's Organic Midnight Moo)—about a few tablespoons altogether—by pouring thick, parallel stripes onto the top surface in the pan. Then pull a knife in perpendicular directions through these dark stripes in the lighter-colored batter (just deeply enough for the uppermost installment's surface) in order to produce a wavy, swirl pattern. Do all this as neatly as possible (try to avoid cutting into the lower installment underneath).

After this last installment is in place, return the entire pan-and-tub assembly to the oven. At this point, fill up the tub more generously with boiling water. Resume baking, but with the oven temperature lowered to 300 degrees, for about another 75 minutes (based upon usage of a 9 1/2" pan).

Afterward, shut the oven off, and leave its door slightly ajar, with the cheesecake still inside—and in the tub—for an hour. Next, remove the cheesecake from the oven and tub. Now, for the final chocolate touch, add a border of chocolate chips, semi-sweet and white, around the edge of this cheesecake (see photo below). Continue to cool it down at room temperature for another two hours. After doing so, remove the cheesecake from pan and refrigerate.

Chocolate Cheesecake—Prototype 22 (January) Chocolate Cheesecake—Prototype 22 (March)
(The first cheesecake shown here made in January, the second one in March, of 2018)

I baked this one at the beginning of 2018 for my brother Eric, his wife Jean and their daughter Rebecca.

The first time around for this prototype, I baked the first batter installment at 20 minutes (rather than 30). But at least some of the cookies had the tendency to float too much upward and protrude through the top of the second installment (and thus the top of the cheesecake). I reasoned that the first installment wasn't baked firmly enough to hold these cookies down. So this led me in a later effort to add another 10 minutes before adding the second installment. And I still felt that keeping the second installment's baking time at 75 minutes would not have an unfavorable impact on the cheesecake.

Whereas I did the first batter installment at 20 minutes when making this treat for Eric and his family, I took the 30-minute approach when I baked this one again nearly three months later for Lily, one of my cousin Rachel's daughters (Lily typically opted for cookies+creme in the past).

Chocolate Cheesecake—Prototype 22 (inside look)
An inside look at the cheesecake that I brought to my cousin Rachel's place in Vermont.

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