When I came to Berlin, I spoke no German, and my first weeks of learning were laborious. In the grocery shop with Alison in 2000, I had just enough words to guess at the label on the chocolate bar: 'Black men's chocolate?' I pieced out, a bit disbelieving. Fluent Alison explained that Schwarze Herren Schokolade better translated to 'gentlemen's dark chocolate', which I found no less amusing.
Gender designations notwithstanding, Schwarze Herren Schokolade became my sweet of choice for some months. I was amazed at how cheap it was and how good, with one Euro buying 100 grams of chocolate made from 60% cocoa with arriba cocoa beans; having lived in America and - briefly - in England up till then, I had come to expect less from the grocery store.
Thanks to in't veldt, Kakao, and, for that matter, St Nikolaus, my tastes have grown more rarefied, and I now look askance at some of the ingredients on the label (vanillin is not particularly stylish), but when David Lebovitz announced this month's Sugar High Friday theme, I had to dismiss the Zotters and the Summerbirds of the chocolate world to go for a hometown favourite. After all, Schwarze Herren Schokolade is made in Berlin.
Since making cheesecake for our Christmas dinner, I had been dreaming about a variation with a dark chocolate glaze replacing the sour cream topping. A bit of googling, a bit of idle flipping through cookbooks, and this is what I came up with.
200 g (7 oz) Schwarze Herren Schokolade or other dark chocolate
200 ml (7 oz) whipping cream
14 g (1 tsp) butter
1 tsp vanilla
Make the cheesecake as directed in my cheesecake recipe (note that you won't need the final three ingredients as you're skipping the sour cream topping). Begin making the chocolate topping when you've taken the cheesecake out of the oven. While you're making the topping, leave the cheesecake on a counter and don't remove it from the springform pan.
Break the chocolate into small pieces and place in a small heatproof bowl; add the vanilla. Heat the cream and butter until the mixture begins to bubble at the edges, then pour over the chocolate and stir with a fork until the chocolate and cream are smoothly amalgamated. The mixture should be liquid but thick. Let cool briefly until comfortable to touch, then pour over the cheesecake. I did this in two separate steps, pouring the chocolate from the center of the cake until it had oozed out to the edges, letting it cool briefly (a few minutes in the fridge), then pouring the rest on, as I wanted the contrast between crust and chocolate (see a photo here). Alternatively you could, of course, cover the top completely, or remove the cheesecake from the springform pan and glaze the sides with chocolate as well.
Whatever you do, once the chocolate's on put the cheesecake in the refrigerator and let cool for a few hours (or, if you'd prefer a softer chocolate) for a half-hour or so, then serve.
I was very pleased with how things turned out, but for next time I think I'd try it with half the recipe of chocolate ganache, as I felt I'd like that layer to be a bit more incidental to the cheesecake it covers. I'll let you know how it turns out.