Baked Chocolate Cheesecake—Prototype 24:
This one is almost identical to Prototype 23—but is a "post-COVID" update with a cheese base modification (more Neufchatel, less cottage). More details are available here (this prototype was my very first baked cheesecake in nearly 20 months!).
3-Cheese Blend (1CT-1NC-1YG):
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 16 ounces of whipped, lowfat cottage cheese and 16 ounces (two 8-ounce packages) 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

Wrap the pan in foil at this point. Carefully pour the batter over the crust and bake this cheesecake in a hot water tub at 300 degrees for 75 minutes (if using a 9 1/2" pan). Then shut off oven and cool cheesecake down while still in it (and in tub), with door slightly ajar, for an hour. Afterwards, remove from oven and tub and (at this point, add a border of chocolate chips if desired) continue to cool down at room temperature for another two hours, then remove from pan and refrigerate.

Chocolate Cheesecake—Prototype 24

This one got plenty of nice compliments when I served it on Rosh HaShanah at my cousin Joanne's house in early September of 2021. This lunch was a rather small gathering—only eight people altogether. But it seemed like I wasn't the only one who greatly missed my cheesecakes for so long.

However, I felt that this cheesecake was a bit too rubbery. While I had not changed the amount of xanthan gum (with respect to my most recent prototypes), 8 ounces of my "cheese base" had been switched from cottage cheese to Neufchatel. The cottage cheese itself had, somewhat to my surprise, some xanthan gum in it. But now I strongly suspected that the amount of this stabilizer was very small within this "loose", curds-and-whey product, whereas the Neufchatel cheese had much more stabilizing content (or enough for me to somehow end up underestimating it). Furthermore, I had to drive the blender real hard to incorporate the xanthan gum. This was quite a time-consuming experience (sequentially, I threw in—all at once, blender maxed out—the entire first teaspoon, waited a while for it to get well blended in, then I tossed in the remaining 1/2 teaspoon, and this ended up leading to a badly drawn-out struggle!). At some point, I could see steam(!) rising from the machine's pitcher, which I suspected was due to friction from "overdriving" the blade assembly. This is it—next time: 1 teaspoon only—and may the 1/2 teaspoon xanthan cutback not lead to a mushy outcome! Stabilizer(s) already in the Neufchatel, do your job!

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