Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a 9-inch springform pan. Tear off an 18-inch square of heavy duty aluminum foil. (Reynolds is best) Set the pan in the center of the square and carefully wrap the foil up over the edges of the pan, crimping at the top so that it is secure. Repeat with a second sheet of foil. Be very gentle so it doesn’t tear. Repeat again with a 3rd sheet of foil.*
Use a food processor to pulse the Oreo into fine crumbs. (Or you can use a ziplock and rolling pin.) Add 2 tablespoons sugar and 4 tablespoons melted butter. Pulse until combined, or mix with a spoon.
Press the crumbs into the bottom of the prepared pan. Use the bottom of a glass to press it into an even layer.
Bake at 350 for 10 minutes. Be careful not to tear the foil.
Remove from the oven and let cool while you make the filling. (I stuck mine in the freezer).
FOR THE CHEESECAKE:
Lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees F.
In a large bowl or stand mixer, beat the softened cream cheese for 4 minutes, making sure to scrape the sides and bottom.
Add 1 and 3/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup cocoa, 1 tablespoon vanilla, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Beat for another 4 minutes, scraping sides and bottom.
Add 12 ounces of bittersweet chocolate to a medium bowl, breaking it up into pieces. Microwave in 30 second increments until it is mostly melted, stirring each time. Once the chocolate is mostly melted but has a few lumps, don’t put it back in the microwave, just stir until the lumps are gone. Set the smooth melted chocolate aside to cool a bit.
Once the chocolate has cooled for a couple minutes, add it to the cream cheese mixture. Beat well, scraping sides and bottom.
Meanwhile, add the cream to a small pot on the stove. Heat over medium low heat until it is warm. You don’t want it to boil.
While that is heating up, crack 10 egg yolks into a mixing bowl. (Save the egg whites for something else!)
Beat the egg yolks with a hand mixer for about 2 minutes, until they are pale.
Pour the heated cream through a fine mesh strainer into a large pourable glass measuring cup (or anything that pours).
While the beaters in the egg yolks are on, slowly add the warm cream. If you are not mixing while you do this, the eggs will curdle. Enlist help if you can. Don’t try to take a photo during this step. I’m just watching out for you. I actually got my daughter to help me, so I skipped step 7 above and just had her hold the strainer over the bowl of eggs while I held the running mixer and pour in the hot cream (see photo.) Beat for 1 minute.
Once all of the hot cream has been incorporated with the egg yolks, pour the egg mixture into the cream cheese mixture and start beating right away. Make sure you scrape the sides and get out all the lumps. The batter will be pretty thin.
Transfer the foil-wrapped Oreo crust into a large high-sided skillet, or a roasting pan.
Pour the batter into the Oreo crust, forming an even layer on top.
Fill the skillet or roasting pan with hot water from the tap. You want the water to go at least halfway up the pan of the cheesecake.
Carefully transfer the water bath to the oven.
Bake at 325 for about 1 hour and 20-25 minutes. You will know it is done when it is mostly set in the center and doesn’t jiggle too much when you shake it. (some movement is ok–it will continue to set as it cools. It just shouldn’t be liquidy.) A toothpick inserted into the cheesecake 1 inch from the outer edge should come out with no batter on it.
Turn off the oven, but do not take the cheesecake out of the oven. Crack the door open and let the cheesecake come to room temperature inside the oven. (At least 1 hour, or up to 2 hours.)
When the cheesecake is room temperature, remove from the water bath, and remove the foil. Cover the cheesecake with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or preferably overnight.
FOR THE GANACHE:
When your cheesecake baby is completely cool, make the ganache. (I feel like you’re close enough to your cheesecake to give it a name by now, right? You two have been through a lot together.)
To make the ganache, heat 1 and 1/4 cups heavy cream in a small pot or in a medium bowl in the microwave. Heat in 45 second increments or over medium low heat. Do not let the cream boil, but when small bubbles appear on the edges, remove from heat and add 1 and 1/3 cup chocolate chips. Do not stir at first, let the chocolate melt. After a minute or so, use a whisk to incorporate the chocolate into the cream. It will seem chunky at first, but if you keep stirring it will become smooth.
Once the mixture is smooth, add 1/4 cup butter that has been cut into chunks. Stir until smooth.
Pour the warm ganache over the top of the chocolate cheesecake. You don’t have to use all of it. You may want to save some to drizzle over individual slices.
Let the ganache set at room temperature for several minutes. Or you can put it back in the fridge to speed it up.
Garnish with whipped cream and fresh strawberries.
You can also garnish with chocolate curls. Use a vegetable peeler to “peel” curls off the edge.
To get clean slices, heat a large chef’s knife in a glass of hot water, wipe clean with a towel, and slice. Wipe off the knife in between slices.