The DECADENT.......The SINFUL!
The Perfect Mix
The cream cheese should be at room temperature before you begin mixing, or you'll end up with lumps in your cheesecake.
Using cold cream cheese also leads to overbeating--whipping too much air into the batter--which forms unattractive air bubbles on the surface of the cake.
Unless the recipe instructions specifically note otherwise, you should beat the cream cheese by itself until it's smooth and light, before adding any other ingredients.
If you end up with lumps in your batter, run the mixture through a sieve or give it a quick spin in the food processor and you'll have silky smooth results.
It's common to overbake cheesecakes because, while they might look underdone, they are actually done when the center is still wobbly. At this stage, residual heat will "carry over" and the center will continue to cook. Remove cheesecake from the oven to cool on a rack, or simply leave the door of the oven closed, turn off the heat and let the cheesecake cool for at least an hour. This helps prevent the cheesecake from sinking in the center. After chilling, the once-wiggly center should firm up just fine.
Cheesecake is a custard at heart. It's delicate, so you want to bake it slowly and evenly without browning the top. The most effective way to do this is to bake it in a water bath. Since water evaporates at the boiling point, the water bath will never get hotter than 212 degrees F. no matter what the oven temperature. This means that the outer edge of your cheesecake won't bake faster than the center, which can cause it to soufflé, sink, and crack.
Filling: Beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla at medium speed with electric mixer until well blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time; mixing at low speed after each addition until well blended. Blend in sour cream; pour over cake layer. Bake 35 minutes or until center is almost set. Run knife or metal spatula around rim of pan to loosen cake; cool cake completely before removing rim of pan.
Topping: Melt chocolate and butter over low heat, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat. Add water and remaining ingredients; mix well. Spread over cooled cheesecake. Refrigerate 4 hours or overnight
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. For the crust: In a medium bowl, combine graham crackers and the 3 tablespoons sugar. Stir in melted butter. Press crumb mixture onto the bottom and 1 to 2 inches up the side of a 9-inch springform pan. Bake for 5 minutes. Cool on a wire rack while preparing filling.
For the filling: In a large bowl, combine cream cheese, the 1-1/3 cups sugar, the orange juice concentrate, and the 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Stir in eggs and orange peel just until combined. Pour filling into crust-lined pan. Place springform pan in a shallow baking pan. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until a 2-1/2-inch-wide area around the outside edge appears set when gently shaken. Remove springform pan from oven and set on a wire rack.
Meanwhile, stir together sour cream, the 1 tablespoon sugar, and the 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Carefully spread sour cream mixture over the hot cheesecake.
Cool in springform pan on wire rack for 15 minutes. Using a small thin knife, loosen crust from side of pan. Cool for 30 minutes more. Remove side of the pan. Cool for 2 hours. Cover and chill for at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours. Garnish cheesecake with orange peel strips and kumquats.