Cheesecake with Berries & Chocolate Ganache is a creamy, homemade, six-inch cheesecake topped with a rich chocolate ganache. The Cheesecake is garnished with sugared berries that give this classic dessert a bright, fresh flavor.
HOW TO MAKE THE PERFECT CHEESECAKE
Cheesecake can be intimidating.. I know! It even took me a while before I decided to ‘brave’ it. But let me tell you, you have nothing to be afraid of!
The first time I made it, I was honestly shocked at how smoothly everything went.. including the cake. ????
This post will include a lot of information, tips and tricks to help you create the perfect, creamy cheesecake. Let’s get started!
Making a homemade crust is very easy to do. I especially like it because you can make a crust according to your own taste buds!
I usually use graham crackers, but a wide variety of cookies or crackers will work as a crust for your cheesecake.
Oreo cookies, Nilla Wafers, Nutter Butter cookies, animal crackers, or even Chips Ahoy cookies would work!
For this cheesecake, I went to the store and laid my eyes upon vanilla graham crackers. My heart was sold the instant I saw them!
First, you’ll need to crush the crackers into fine crumbs. You can do this the old fashioned way by placing them in a zip top bag and working out all that pent up anger ???? or you can toss them into a blender/ food processor.
Once you have fine crumbs, combine the crumbs with a little sugar and melted butter.
Line the bottom of a 6-inch springform pan with parchment paper. Press the cracker crumb mixture into the pan, allowing the crust to come up the sides a bit.
I like to press the crust with the back of a measuring cup, that helps it to pack down a little better.
The crust will bake at 350° for 8 minutes.
How to make the perfect Cheesecake Filling
There are a couple of ‘musts’ when it comes to the actual cheesecake.
- The cream cheese and eggs MUST be room temperature. Cold cream cheese and/or eggs will result in lumpy cheesecake.
- Do not over mix the eggs. Do not over mix the eggs. I repeat, do not over mix the eggs. ????
Now that those warnings are out of the way, lets talk cheesecake from the beginning.
First thing you’ll need to do is bring the cream cheese and eggs up to room temperature. Ideally, pull the cream cheese and eggs out of the fridge about an hour before the cheesecake is to be made.
If you forget, need to take care of your cat, run an errand or whatever and they don’t get pulled out in time, I might have a trick up my sleeve for you.
I have warmed up a rice bag (you know, rice inside of a sewn together square?) in the microwave and set it on top of the packaged cream cheese and eggs before. They came to room temperature in about 10 minutes.
Once you have room temperature ingredients, the cream cheese and sugar are beat together for a few minutes.
After scraping down the sides, sour cream, vanilla and a pinch of salt are added and beat, again, for a few minutes.
This is very important: Crack the eggs into a separate bowl and whisk the eggs thoroughly. Once whisked add to the bowl and mix slowly, for about 30 seconds. Just until you can no longer see yellow. I’m going to say it one more time.. do not over mix the eggs!
Once the eggs are just barely mixed together, stop mixing and then pour the cheesecake batter on top of the crust in the springform pan.
How to bake Cheesecake in a Water Bath
Cheesecake bakes in what is called a water bath. It is pretty much what it sounds like, the pan is sitting in water as it bakes.
Baking in a water bath ensures even cooking, and the steam helps to prevent cracking on the top of the cheesecake!
But, we don’t want a soggy crust!! Before placing the springform pan into the large pan with boiling water, you’ll want to cover the bottom of the pan with 2 layers of tinfoil. This will insure that no water leaks into the pan.
Place the foil covered springform pan into a large baking dish (I used my 9×13 pan). Carefully pour boiling water around the cheesecake, filling until the water is about halfway up the sides of the springform pan.
Carefully transfer to the oven. Bake at 325° for 75-80 minutes.
The cheesecake will still be slightly jiggly when done baking. It will solidify more as it cools.
Sour Cream Topping
This layer is totally optional, but I always do it for a few reasons.
- This layer really compliments the sweetness of the cheesecake with a nice slightly tangy flavor.
- This layer is perfectly white, glossy and gorgeous.
- This layer covers up any little blemishes that might be showing through once the cheesecake has been baked.
After the cheesecake has been pulled out of the oven, whisk together sour cream, sugar and vanilla (I use clear vanilla to keep things extremely white!).
Once the cheesecake has cooled for about 15 minutes, pour the sour cream layer onto the cheesecake and use a rubber or offset spatula to spread and smooth the layer.
Cooling the Cheesecake
Cool the cheesecake at room temperature, until it is room temperature. Once completely cooled, transfer to the fridge and refrigerate overnight or for at least 8 hours.
It is very crucial to let the cheesecake refrigerate for the full 8 hours. The flavors deepen and become even richer as it sits and chills out.
I, along with some of you probably, have not had the patience and have dug in early before. Let me tell you, NOT WORTH IT. Don’t do it! Cheesecake needs it’s chill time.
How to make Chocolate Ganache
The next day, it is time to top and garnish the cheesecake. First, we will top with a rich chocolate ganache.
Once the ganache has cooled slightly, pour the ganache onto the cheesecake. Use a rubber or offset spatula to carefully push the ganache to and over the edges.
The longer the ganache cools, the less ‘drippy’ it will be. Let the ganache cool completely before adding the sugared berries.
How to make Sugared Berries
To prepare the sugared berries, Whisk 1 egg white until frothy. Brush clean berries with a small amount of egg white, then roll in granulated sugar until coated. Let sit on a piece of parchment paper (or wax paper) for 2-3 hours.
I sugared blackberries, raspberries and then a few strawberries. Blueberries, would be a fun addition too, I think.
Once the ganache has cooled completely it is time to decorate the top. I began with three large strawberries, and placed them in the center.
I then stacked and arranged the raspberries and blackberries to my liking. I also let some of the berries fall for decorative purposes.
I love that these berries are not only pleasing to the eye, but SO delicious! I could (and have) eaten an entire bowl by myself!
Slice and serve! This cheesecake is very rich. I served 10 people with this one little 6 inch cheesecake and everyone had enough.
Make sure to store any un-eaten portion in an air tight container in the fridge.
Cheesecake with Berries & Chocolate Ganache
- 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs (approx 6 crackers)
- 1 1/2 tbsp butter melted
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 16 oz cream cheese room temperature
- 3/4 cup white sugar
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 2 tsp vanilla
- pinch salt
- 2 eggs room temperature
- boiling water for water bath
Sour Cream Layer (Optional)
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp clear vanilla
- 8 oz chocolate, chopped semi sweet
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1 egg white
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2-3 cups fresh berries variety
- Preheat the oven to 350°. Prepare a 6 inch springform pan by covering the bottom with parchment paper.
- Combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter. Press into the lined springform pan, allowing some crust up the sides of the pan a bit.
- Bake at 350° for 8 minutes. Once removed, lower the heat to 325°.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer or using handheld beaters, mix the cream cheese and sugar for 3 minutes.
- Scrape the sides and add sour cream, vanilla and salt. Mix for an additional 3 minutes. The mixture should be extremely smooth.
- In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs together thoroughly. Once mixed together, add to the cheesecake batter.
- Using the slowest speed, mix until you can barely no longer see any yellow. Do not over mix the eggs.
- Pour on top of the prepared crust.
- Cover the bottom of the springform pan with two layers of foil.
- Place the foil lined springform pan into a larger baking dish. Carefully pour the boiling water around the cheesecake until the water is about halfway up the side of the springform pan.
- Bake at 325° for 75-80 minutes. It will still jiggle slightly when done, it will firm up a bit as it cools.
- Add sour cream layer if desired. If not, cool until room temperature and then refrigerate overnight. Remove from Springform pan prior to adding ganache layer and serving.
Sour Cream Layer (Optional)
- Combine the sour cream, sugar and vanilla.
- Once the cheesecake has cooled for at least 15 minutes, pour the sweetened sour cream onto the cheesecake.
- Using a rubber or offset spatula, spread and smooth the layer.
- Cool until room temperature and then refrigerate over night.
To make the Chocolate Ganache:
- To make ganache, microwave heavy cream and butter in a small glass or ceramic bowl for 1 minute 20 seconds. Pour in chocolate chips and cover with a plate to trap in the heat. Let sit 5 minutes, then whisk until smooth. Let sit several hours so that ganache cools and thickens.
To make the Sugared Berries
- To prepare the sugared berries, whisk 1 egg white until frothy. Brush clean berries with a small amount of egg white, then roll in granulated sugar until coated. Let sit on a piece of parchment paper (or wax paper) for 2-3 hours.