When the temperature is many degrees below zero and the wind is howling, the best source of comfort is something chocolate baking in the kitchen.  The cozy smells keep the banshee winds at bay, and the taste of a rich bite of chocolate stolen from cake as it cools warms the soul.

Last night’s pick was a Southern Living Recipe, Chocolate Cherry Surprise Cheesecake.  I made it exactly like the recipe said (which is unusual — I like to tweak and twist recipes to make them my own).  The result was certainly . . . surprising.

The first surprise was the brownie batter, which was weird and grainy when I spread it in the pan. Luckily, it baked just fine and was a rich and chewy base for the cake. 

The second surprise was the way the cheesecake batter turned out.  It looked like cheap cookies n’ cream ice cream, all grey and grainy with the chocolate.  I even swapped out the mixer paddle for the whisk on the Kitchenaid to see if I couldn’t get a better blend of the ingredients.  Finally I gave up and just poured it in the pan over the cherries and brownie. It baked into a more presentable, but still grainy looking, chocolate color.

Surprise number three — it makes way more than enough for one cheesecake.  In addition to assembling the main cheesecake as called for, I had enough to bake a brownie crust in a shallow torte pan and then top it with a thin layer of cheesecake batter.  That I baked for 30 minutes (half the time of the main cake) at 300 degrees.  The result was a tasty cheesecake topped brownie.