Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake
Skip the canned cherry filling and bake a Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake with fresh cherries! A chocolate cookie crust, chocolate chip cherry cheesecake filling, and chocolate ganache (or cherry fudge!) topping decorated with fresh cherries make the perfect cheesecake for cherry lovers.
If you know me at all, you know how much I love fresh cherries. I love to eat them, cook with them, and especially bake with them – it’s the highlight of my summer!
Not surprisingly, then, chocolate + cherry is my favorite chocolate combination. (Yes, I think it’s better than chocolate and peanut butter or chocolate and mint!)
So, of course, the obvious choice for my Cheesecake of the Month series in the middle of cherry season is… a Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake!
This particular version leans heavily on the chocolate, with a chocolate Oreo crust, chocolate chips in the cheesecake, and a layer of chocolate ganache on top. If, like me, you really want more cherry flavor, do I have the adaptation for you!
Substitute the ganache for a cherry fudge topping for the ULTIMATE chocolate cherry cheesecake!
Adding Fresh Cherries to Cheesecake
Most “cherry cheesecakes” are plain cheesecakes with the equivalent of cherry pie filling piled on top.
While this is a super popular option, I did something similar with last month’s Strawberry Cheesecake and wanted to take this in a different direction.
So instead, we’re chopping up cherries and baking them in the cheesecake! And of course, adding a (generous) handful(s) of miniature chocolate chips too.
As you fold the chopped cherries into the cheesecake batter, the juice from the cherries creates beautiful purple swirls in the batter. I think this is one of the prettiest cheesecakes I’ve made so far this year!
Just keep in mind that there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Don’t add extra cherries – the extra liquid in the batter will prevent the cheesecake from setting properly!
Chocolate Ganache Topping
If you’re a chocolate lover, I suggest topping this cheesecake with ganache, like in these photos.
Making a ganache is super easy – and if you’ve made some of my other cheesecakes, you’re already a pro!
Making the right kind of ganache is all about ratios – as I always say, baking and cooking are all about science! You know what this means — it’s time for my favorite subject, kitchen chemistry!
The consistency of ganache is determined by the ratio of chocolate to cream. For firm, smooth ganache you can mold or roll, use two parts chocolate to one part cream. For a soft, toothy ganache, perfect for pouring over cakes, use equal parts chocolate and cream. And for a liquidy ganache to whip into mouse, use two parts cream to one part chocolate. These ratios are based on weight, not volume.
We want medium-consistency ganache for the cheesecake topping. Too much chocolate and the ganache, once refrigerated, will have a hard bite compared to the smooth cheesecake filling. Too much cream and the ganache will drip too far down the sides of the cheesecake and never truly “set”. Equal amounts of chocolate and cream result in just the right texture for the cheesecake!
…Or Cherry Fudge Topping
The chocolate ganache is topping is, well,… CHOCOLATEY! Let’s say you don’t want the ganache overpowering the cherry flavor quite so much. You want this chocolate cherry cheesecake to lean more on the cherry than the chocolate.
Keep the Oreo crust and the chocolate chips in the batter for a little chocolate flavor. But swap out the ganache for this amazing cherry fudge topping, instead!
This cherry fudge “frosting” has been featured before on my chocolate chip cherry pound cake.
Even though I’m calling it a frosting, it will pour similar to a ganache while still warm. It’s a cooked frosting, boiling together the ingredients and then adding butter in to melt. After cooling slightly, pour it right over the cheesecake.
The end result is an incredibly fudgy, slightly chewy texture, with lots of cherry flavor, thanks to the addition of cherry juice.
You can purchase cherry juice, use the juice from a jar of maraschino cherries, make your own (toss pitted cherries in a blender, blend, and strain out the solids), or collect the juice from thawed frozen cherries.
Common Questions about Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake
Yes! Use gluten-free Oreo cookies for a gluten-free cheesecake.
Absolutely. Thaw the frozen cherries before chopping (save the juice to make the cherry fudge topping!) and fold them into the cheesecake batter.
While cheesecakes can be baked without one, a water bath helps ensure the cheesecake doesn’t overcook and maintains the creamiest texture. For an easy leak-proof way to use a water bath, place the 9-inch springform pan instead a 10-inch round cake pan, and place this inside a pan. Add hot water until it comes halfway up the side of the external 10-inch cake pan.
Bake until the cheesecake reaches an internal temperature of 145°F or until there is roughly a 2-3 inch diameter circle in the center that still jiggles.
To freeze the whole cheesecake, wrap the chilled cheesecake in a layer of plastic wrap, followed by a layer of aluminum foil. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator. To freeze individual slices, place the slice on a cookie sheet and freeze until the whipped cream on top is frozen. Then wrap in plastic wrap and aluminum foil. Unwrap before thawing in the refrigerator. Cheesecake can remain frozen for up to 3 months.
More Cherry Desserts:
- Cherry Pie Bars
- Chocolate Chip Cherry Pound Cake
- Cherry Almond Pie
- Chocolate Chip Cherry Upside Down Cake
- Chocolate Cherry Bundt Cake
- Cherry Chocolate Chunk Muffins
- All Cherry Recipes ≫
2022 Cheesecake of the Month Series
For the Oreo Crust:
- 30 Oreo cookies (340 grams)
- 1/4 cup (56.5 grams) unsalted butter, melted
For the Chocolate Chip Cherry Cheesecake:
- 32 ounces (908 grams) cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 cup (198 grams) granulated sugar
- 2/3 cup (151 grams) sour cream, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 4 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 cup (160 grams) chopped fresh cherries
- 1/2 cup (90 grams) miniature chocolate chips
For the Ganache:
- 1 cup (170 grams) chocolate chips or chopped chocolate
- 3/4 cup (170 grams) heavy cream
- Pinch of salt
- additional fresh cherries and miniature chocolate chips, to decorate
- Make the crust. Preheat the oven to 350 °F. Add Oreos to a food processor and chop or crush into fine crumbs by hand. Pour in melted butter and mix using the food processor. Press the crumbs along the bottom and extend up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan, compacting the crumbs as much as possible. Bake for 10 minutes, then remove from oven. Reduce oven temperature to 325 °F.
- Make the cheesecake. Using an electric mixer with the whisk attachment, beat together the cream cheese and sugar until creamy and well combined, 2 to 3 minutes. Mix in the sour cream, vanilla extract, and salt, stirring until well combined. Crack the four eggs into a small bowl and mix with a fork to break up the yolks. Slowly pour roughly a quarter of the eggs into the cream cheese mixture, mix to combine, and repeat until all egg has been added. Do not over-mix the cheesecake - this makes it more likely to crack. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the chopped cherries and miniature chocolate chips, scraping down the sides and along the bottom of the bowl.
- Prepare the springform pan. Wrap the springform pan in 3 layers of aluminum foil, or create a pan-in-pan water bath by placing the 9-inch springform pan inside a 10-inch cake pan (both pans together will be placed inside the water bath). Pour the cheesecake batter into the oreo cookie crust.
- Bake the cheesecake. Place the springform pan inside a larger pan and add hot water until the water level comes approximately halfway up the sides of the springform pan (or the outer cake pan). Bake at 325 °F for 75 minutes, or until the edges have set but a 3 to 4-inch diameter circle in the center of the cheesecake still jiggles. Turn off the oven and open the door slightly; cool in the warm oven for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the cheesecake from the oven and let it sit at room temperature for 1 hour before placing it in the refrigerator to chill for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.
- Make the ganache. Once the cheesecake has cooled for at least 4 hours, top with the ganache. Combine the chocolate chips and heavy cream in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for one minute on 50% power and stir well; repeat this process until the mixture is smooth and no lumps of chocolate remain. Set aside to cool for 5 minutes, then pour onto the unmolded cheesecake and spread to the sides using an offset spatula. Decorate with additional fresh cherries and miniature chocolate chips. Chill for 30 minutes to set the ganache.
- Use room temperature ingredients to ensure proper mixing with no lumps.
- Mix the batter thoroughly, but do not overmix or mix at high speed which incorporates additional air into the batter.
- Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl frequently while mixing the batter.
- Bake until the center of the cheesecake still jiggles or reaches a temperature of 145 °F on an instant-read thermometer.
- For additional cherry flavor, make this cherry fudge frosting and pour it over the chilled cheesecake instead of the ganache.
Cheesecake can be refrigerated for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 3 months.