This Easy Chocolate Cheesecake recipe is rich, smooth, and decadent. Surprisingly simple to make, with no water bath. A classic graham cracker crust rounds out this must-have recipe for the best baked chocolate cheesecake ever!
One of my most popular desserts is my Easy Mini Cheesecakes. My kids regularly request them, and every time I take them to a party, they get rave reviews. However, I had never made a full-sized cheesecake until recently when my youngest daughter became fixated on the idea of a large chocolate cheesecake.
I started searching the internet for a recipe to try. I wanted one that would be easy, not require me to buy any special ingredients, and didn’t require a water bath. I found a recipe from the New York Times that used graham cracker crumbs for the crust. Most chocolate cheesecake recipes use Oreos for the crust. But since I didn’t have Oreos in the house (because I will eat half a package by myself in one sitting), but I did have graham crackers, that was my winner!
If you’re like me, the thought of making cheesecake is kind of intimidating. But it’s actually really easy! I’ve taken lots of step-by-step photos to show you exactly how it’s done.
How to Make Baked Chocolate Cheesecake
To make a proper cheesecake, you will need a springform pan. I really like this Oneida 3pc Non-Stick Springform Pan Set from Amazon. (This is an affiliate link). Springform pans are not that expensive, so it is totally worth it to get one for this. Don’t try making a cheesecake in a regular cake pan. The sides are not high enough.
Once you have your springform pan, you’re going to make your crust. For this recipe, it’s a simple mixture of graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter. (I just use a food processor to make my graham cracker crumbs).
I also like to add a little bit of cinnamon, if only because it makes your house smell amazing while it is baking!
Just press the crumbs into the bottom of the springform pan and about half-way up the sides of the pan. Go ahead and use your fingers for this. Alternately, you can use the bottom of a measuring cup to press the crumbs into place.
Set that aside. There is no need to pre-bake the crust.
Now you’re going to melt some semi-sweet chocolate chips together with some sour cream. (If you prefer, you can also use dark chocolate chips for a richer chocolate flavor). Put the chocolate chips and sour cream into a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high in 30-second increments, stopping to stir in between, until everything is melted and smooth and silky.
This recipe calls for 8 ounces of chocolate. I use a kitchen scale to weigh my chocolate so I can get the amount just right. If you don’t have a kitchen scale, I wholeheartedly recommend you get one! They are amazing and help increase your confidence in cooking!
I have this Taylor Glass LED Kitchen Scale. It measures in both grams and ounces, so you’re covered no matter which recipe you are making!
Set your melted chocolate mix aside to cool a bit while you prepare the rest of the cheesecake.
For that, you will need a stand mixer (or a large mixing bowl and a hand mixer).
You’re going to beat some softened cream cheese together with granulated sugar on medium speed until smooth and fluffy. This should take about two minutes. It will look like frosting. (Scrape down the sides of bowl as necessary).
Then you’ll add in three room temperature eggs, (one at a time), and beat in between each one. Now your cream cheese mixture will look more like batter.
Now it’s time to pour in your melted chocolate and sour cream mixture gradually while you are beating everything on low speed. Stop to scrape down the sides as necessary.
Now your filling should be the perfect texture!
All that’s left now is to pour the cheesecake filling on top of your graham cracker crust and bake!
Go ahead and spread the cheesecake batter over the edge of the crust clear to the edge of the pan. The crust should be completely covered.
Now you just bake at a low oven temperature–250 degrees F.–for an hour and a half, until the top is dry and set, but the center still jiggles a little when you shake the pan. (I believe I cooked mine for an extra ten minutes).
Then take it out and let it cool in a pan on a wire rack.
The great thing about this recipe is that you don’t need to place the cheesecake in a hot water bath in the oven!
How Do You Get a Cheesecake Not to Crack?
As your cheesecake bakes, it will inevitably crack, either around the edges or in the middle. I discovered that the cracks can disappear on top of the cheesecake while it is cooling if you take a knife and run it around the edges of the cheesecake every half hour or so to make sure that the cheesecake is not sticking to the pan. The cheesecake will shrink and sink a little, and the cracks will come back together.
How to Decorate Chocolate Cheesecake
The sky is the limit when it comes to decorating cheesecake. You could top it with chocolate ganache (found in my recipe for Chocolate Peppermint Cream Cake). You can pipe some fancy whipped cream on top. You could top it with some berry topping and fruit like I did for my Vanilla Berries and Cream Cake. Or, you can do what I did here and liberally sprinkle the top with crunchy graham cracker crumbles (made by gently cooking graham cracker crumbs with melted butter). Chocolate curls provide the perfect finishing touch. (You can learn how to make chocolate curls with this tutorial from the Pioneer Woman).
Isn’t this gorgeous?
Can You Freeze Chocolate Cheesecake?
Yes! You can freeze any cheesecake and thaw it later for serving. If you plan on freezing your cheesecake, make sure to freeze it “naked” (without any toppings) and just add the toppings right before you plan to serve it.
To freeze cheesecake, make sure it has completely cooled and has been chilled in the refrigerator.
If you leave the cheesecake in the pan, wrap the whole thing with two layers of plastic wrap, and then a layer of foil. You can freeze it this way up to three months. Thaw it overnight in your refrigerator.
If you remove the cheesecake from the pan, I suggest you leave it on the base. Place the cooled, chilled cheesecake on a baking sheet and place it, uncovered, in your freezer. Once firm, remove it from your freezer, wrap in foil, and place inside an airtight freezer bag. Return to the freezer. Again, let it thaw overnight before serving, and add the toppings just before serving.
This recipe adapted from Chocolate Cheesecake With Graham Cracker Crunch from the New York Times.
A classic chocolate cheesecake made with a graham cracker crust.
- 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 6 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 cup sour cream
- 8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, broken in pieces
- 3 (8 ounce) cubes cream cheese, softened
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 3 eggs, room temperature
In a medium-sized bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar, and cinnamon. Mix well.
Press into the bottom and part-way up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Refrigerate until ready to bake with the cheesecake filling.
Heat your oven to 250 degrees F.
Add your sour cream and semi-sweet chocolate to a microwave-safe bowl and heat on high for 30 seconds. Stir and then heat for 30 more seconds. Stir again. Continue heating and stirring, just until all the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth and silky. Set aside to cool.
In a stand mixer or large bowl using a hand mixer, beat the softened cream cheese with the 1 cup of granulated sugar for two minutes, until smooth and fluffy.
Mix in the eggs, one at a time, blending well after each.
With the mixer running on low speed, gradually pour in the chocolate mixture and blend until smooth. Stop mixing to scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
Pour the filling over the crust in the pan, making sure to spread it to the edges of the pan.
Bake for about 1 1/2 hours, until the top is set and dry but still jiggles a little when you shake the pan.
Set aside to cool at room temperature, then put in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
Optional: Put two tablespoons of butter in a small saucepan and heat until foamy. Crush 3 or four graham crackers and add to the butter. Cook and stir until lightly toasted and fragrant. Sprinkle on top of the cheesecake just before serving.
Be sure to scroll up and read the post for step-by-step pictures and instructions!