17 OREO cookies (don't remove the cream), crushed into crumbs
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted
1 tablespoon granulated white sugar
24 ounces (3 packages) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated white sugar
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
2 ounces red food coloring (two 1-ounce bottles)
3 ounces cream cheese
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, at room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
mint sprigs for garnish, optional
PREPARE THE CRUST:
Stir together the Oreo crumbs, melted butter, and sugar. Spray the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan with nonstick spray, and then press the crust mixture into the bottom of the pan. NOTE: the video for this recipe shows that you have to bake the crust. That's an error. You DO NOT have to bake the crust!
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Prepare a water bath: Fill a large roasting pan (big enough for springform pan to fit into) with about 1-inch of water. Place in the oven and allow to preheat along with the oven. Alternately, if you don't want to put the cheesecake INTO a water bath, you can put the pan on a lower rack and plan to bake the cheesecake on a rack ABOVE the bath.
PREPARE THE FILLING:
In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to combine the cream cheese and sugar at medium-low speed for 1 minute. Add the eggs and remaining cheesecake ingredients, mixing on low speed just until fully combined. Pour the batter into the prepared crust.
If using the WATER BATH method, take out two sheets of heavy duty foil and layer them on top of one another. Place the springform pan on top of the foil and wrap the foil gently around the pan and up the sides. Make sure that there are no tears or holes and that the foil comes all the way up around all sides of the cake. Carefully place the foil-protected pan into the water bath in the preheated oven. Alternately, if not using a water bath, just place the springform pan on a rack above the pan of water.
Bake for 10 minutes; then reduce heat to 300°F. Bake for an additional 75 minutes or until the center is firm (it might take 15 minutes more or so... you don't want the cheesecake to be jiggly in the middle). Turn the oven off. Let the cheesecake stand in oven for 30 minutes. Remove the cheesecake from the oven. Carefully remove the cheesecake from the water bath and place on a wire rack. Run a thin knife around the outer edge of the cheesecake. Cool on the rack for a couple of hours, until the cheesecake becomes close to room temperature. Cover and chill for at least 8 hours (or overnight). Remove the sides of the springform pan.
PREPARE THE FROSTING:
Beat the cream cheese and butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Gradually add the powdered sugar and vanilla, beating until smooth. Spread evenly on top of the cheesecake. Garnish, if desired. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.