Ok, seriously, hands down, this is the best cheesecake I've ever had in my life. I dream about it at night. I made this for a group of friends on Sunday and, not having made it a day in advance it didn't have enough time to chill and I ended up sticking it in the freezer for a while to speed up the process. I think they liked it, but it was even better the next day. Another superlative Fine Cooking magazine success. This comes from their Cheesecake "Cooking Without Recipes" article from the Apr/May 2010 issue. They give the basic formula with a whole bunch of possible flavor combinations. Here's what I came up with:
Orange Chocolate Chip Cheesecake
8 oz. chocolate graham crackers, finely crushed (2 cups of crumbs)
3 Tbs. granulated sugar
7 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted
3 8-oz. packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup ricotta
2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
1-1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup mini chocolate chips
2 Tbs. finely grated orange zest (I was generous)
1 Tbs. pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1/3 c. ghirardelli's 70% dark chocolate chips
1/4 tsp. orange extract
1 Tbs. cream
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 375°F.
In a medium bowl, stir together the cookie crumbs and 3 Tbs. granulated sugar. Mix in the melted butter until the crumbs are evenly moist and clump together slightly. Transfer the mixture to a 9-inch springform pan and press evenly onto the bottom and about 2 inches up the sides of the pan (to press, use plastic wrap or a flat-bottom measuring cup). Bake until the crust is fragrant and slightly darkened, 9 to 12 minutes. Let the pan cool on a rack. Lower the oven temperature to 300°F.
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese, ricotta, flour, and a pinch of table salt on medium speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl and the paddle frequently, until very smooth and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Make sure the cheese has no lumps. Add the 1-1/4 cups granulated sugar and continue beating until well blended and smooth.
Add the chocolate chips, orange zest, and vanilla, and beat until blended, about 30 seconds. Add the eggs one at a time, beating just until blended. (Don’t overbeat once the eggs have been added or the cheesecake will puff too much and crack as it cools.) Pour the filling into the cooled crust and smooth the top.
Bake at 300°F until the center jiggles like Jell-O when nudged, 55 to 65 minutes. The cake will be slightly puffed around the edges, and the center will still look moist. Set on a rack and cool completely. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 8 hours and up to 3 days. The cake can also be frozen at this point for up to 1 month (see make-ahead tip, below).
Unclasp and remove the side of the springform pan and run a long, thin metal spatula under the bottom crust. Carefully slide the cake onto a flat serving plate.
Warm the dark chocolate chips with the cream on 50% power in the microwave, stirring after 1 minute and again every 30 seconds, until smooth. Stir in the orange extract. Scrape it into a ziplock baggie, cut a tiny bit off the corner, and squeeze it out over the cheesecake in uneven stripes. To cut, run a thin knife under hot water, wipe it dry, and cut the cake into slices, heating and wiping the knife after every slice.