No-Bake Spiderweb Cheesecake


For the Crust:

Vegetable oil cooking spray

18 ounces chocolate wafers (about 90), finely ground (4 1/2 cups) – I used 1 10 ounce box of chocolate Teddy Grahams and another 8 ounces of crushed Nilla Wafers (since I ran out of the chocolate crackers)

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar

6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) butter, melted

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

For the Ganache:

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (I used Ghirardelli’s Bittersweet Chocolate Chips)

1/2 cup heavy cream

For the Filling:

32 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/4 teaspoon coarse salt

1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla

1 1/2 cups heavy cream, cold

Make the crust: Coat a 10-inch springform pan with cooking spray. Mix wafers, sugar, butter, and salt in a medium bowl. Pat mixture into pan, pressing firmly into bottom and all the way up sides. Cover, and refrigerate until ready to fill.

Make the ganache: Place chocolate in a food processor. Bring cream to a simmer in a small saucepan, then pour over chocolate. When chocolate begins to melt, process until smooth.

Reserve 4 tablespoons ganache for decorating, and spread the remainder evenly on bottom and all the way up sides of crust. Cover, and refrigerate until ready to fill.

Make the filling: Beat cream cheese with a mixer on medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes.

Reduce speed to low, and slowly add sugar and salt. Raise speed to medium-high, and beat until very fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in lemon juice and vanilla.

Whisk cream until medium-stiff peaks form. Whisk 1/4 of the whipped cream into cream cheese mixture, then fold in remaining whipped cream. Pour filling into crust, and spread evenly. Gently tap bottom of pan on counter to release air bubbles.

Transfer reserved ganache to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/4-inch round tip (next time I might use a smaller tip to make the lines more delicate and fine). Starting in the center of the cheesecake, pipe a spiral, spacing lines about 1/2 inch apart. Pull the tip of a paring knife in a gently curved line from the center of the spiral to outer edge. Wipe knife clean, and repeat every inch or so to form a web.

Cover, and freeze for at least 1 hour or overnight. Unmold cheesecake, garnish with candy spiders if desired, and serve immediately.