1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (10 crackers: 1 bag)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
For the filling:
32 ounces (4 blocks) low fat cream cheese at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 whole extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1/4 cup sour cream, low fat
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup mini chocolate chips
For the ganache:
1/2 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup chocolate chips (milk chocolate or semi sweet)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
To make the crust, combine the graham crackers and melted butter in a bowl until moistened. Pour into a 9-inch springform pan. With your hands, press the crumbs into the bottom of the pan and about 1-inch up the sides. Bake for 8 minutes. Cool to room temperature.
Raise the oven temperature to 450 degrees F.
To make the filling, cream the cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Reduce the speed of the mixer to medium and add the eggs, 1 at a time, mixing well. Scrape down the bowl and beater, as necessary. With the mixer on low, add the sour cream, and vanilla. Fold in the chocolate chips. Pour into the cooled crust.
Bake for 15 minutes. Turn the oven temperature down to 225 degrees and bake for another 1 hour and 15 minutes (DO NOT open the oven door when you lower the temperature. Trust you oven, and KNOW that your cheesecake is not burning after 15 minutes). Turn the oven off and open the door wide. The cake will not be completely set in the center. Allow the cake to sit in the oven with the door open for 30 minutes. Take the cake out of the oven and allow it to sit at room temperature for another 2 to 3 hours, until completely cooled. Wrap and refrigerate overnight.
*Lowering the temperature and letting it cook for a little longer allows it to cook all the way through without browning it or making too many cracks in the top. Turning off the oven and letting the cake sit inside with the door cracked is a great trick to continue cooking it, but it won’t brown or burn.
Remove the cake from the springform pan by carefully running a hot knife around the outside of the cake. Leave the cake on the bottom of the springform pan for serving.
To make the topping, heat the heavy cream and chocolate chips in a double boiler over low heat. Once the chocolate has melted and is stirred in, remove the bowl from the heat and let it cool. Allow it too cool to room temperature. It will thicken as it cools. But you will still be able to pour it onto the cheesecake. Carefully pour the ganache into the middle of the cheesecake and spread it to the outside, leaving about 1/4 of an inch space from the edge. Refrigerate until ready to serve.