With two birthdays to celebrate, what better way than to make a cheesecake? And since it’s my first time ever making a cheesecake, it’s probably best to pick a complicated recipe that takes way longer than anticipated, right? So when something goes wrong, you have no idea what to do because you have no “familiar ground” to compare it to and you end up on Google searching “why is my cheesecake puffing up and still jiggling and REFUSING TO COOK like it #@$&%*& should?!?” Sounds like a good idea, right?! My logic, sometimes…
Recall for a minute my friend Matt who visited over St. Patrick’s Day weekend: we made some awesome brownies and a cake that couldn’t be displayed but was eagerly consumed. Strike any bells? Well, Matt also happens to be incredibly thoughtful and a marvelously generous houseguest. He got me a springform pan because I’ve never had one before, and he said he “figured an avid baker had to have at least one springform pan in her collection.” See, what did I tell you? So thoughtful. And this meant I could finally try making a cheesecake! All those delicious recipes I’ve passed up over the years because I didn’t have the right supplies… Thank you, Matt!! Everyone, I hope you’re ready for loads of cheesecake recipes now – I have to make up for years of missed recipes!
As for my inaugural cheesecake, what better place to start than this:
Oh, yes. It is as intoxicatingly and sinfully rich and delicious as it sounds!
I followed Smitten Kitchen‘s instructions for this amazing concoction, which Deb adapted from Bon Appetit, February 2002. Annie’s Eats also makes this recipe, but with a simpler crust. You can find Smitten Kitchen’s instructions below for this beautiful treat. One note: watch out that you don’t over-beat the eggs. The recipe makes it sound like you want to mix until the eggs are super well-blended, but that made the cheesecake “fluffier” than I would have liked. Be aware of that, and only gently beat the eggs in. That aside, this cheesecake rocks. With the perfect amount of each flavor, the tastes blend beautifully. Not to mention, it’s one gorgeous dessert! Plus, it’s a pretty easy one to make (remember, I’ve never made cheesecake before), if you don’t count my minor fiasco with the baking time (a product of over-beating the eggs, I think; I had to cook for nearly 50% more time). The worst part is the lengthly waiting/chilling times. Have side projects to work on (or a great baking companion to hang out with) while you wait and you’ll be good to go!
CAPPUCCINO FUDGE CHEESECAKE
(Link to Smitten Kitchen’s recipe provided above)
1 (9-oz) box chocolate wafer cookies
6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
7 tbsp. hot melted unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups heavy or whipping cream
20 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup Kahlúa or other coffee-flavored liqueur
CAPPUCCINO CHEESECAKE FILLING
3 (8-oz) packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tbsp. all purpose flour
1 1/2 tbsp. dark rum
2 tbsp. instant espresso powder or coffee crystals
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp. mild-flavored (light) molasses
3 large eggs
VANILLA SOUR CREAM TOPPING
1 1/2 cups sour cream
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
A handful of chocolate covered espresso beans (optional)
Make chocolate crust:
1. Finely grind cookies, chopped chocolate, brown sugar, and nutmeg in processor. Add butter and process until crumbs begin to stick together, scraping down bowl occasionally, about 1 minute.
2. Transfer crumbs to 9-inch-diameter springform pan with 3-inch-high sides. Wrap plastic wrap around fingers and press crumb mixture firmly up sides to within 1/2 inch of top edge, then over bottom of pan.
Make chocolate ganache:
1. Bring cream to simmer in large saucepan. Remove from heat; add chocolate and Kahlúa. Whisk until chocolate is melted and ganache is smooth.
2. Pour 2 cups ganache over bottom of crust. Freeze until ganache layer is firm, about 30 minutes. Reserve remaining ganache; cover and let stand at room temperature to use later for decorating.
Make cappuccino cheesecake filling:
1. Position rack in middle of oven and preheat to 350°F.
2. Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar in large bowl until blended. Scrape down bowl, making sure you get to the bottom, where little pockets of unmixed cream cheese love to hide. Beat in flour.
3. Stir rum, espresso powder, vanilla, and molasses in small bowl until instant coffee dissolves; beat into cream cheese mixture. Beat in eggs one at a time, scraping down sides of bowl between each addition.
4. Pour filling over cold ganache in crust; it will go nearly all of the way to the top – don’t panic. Place cheesecake on rimmed baking sheet. Bake until top is brown, puffed and cracked at edges, and the center two inches moves only slightly when pan is gently shaken, about one hour.
5. Transfer cheesecake to rack. Cool 15 minutes while preparing topping (top of cheesecake will fall slightly, making room for topping). Maintain oven temperature while you continue on to make the topping.
Make vanilla sour cream topping:
1. Whisk sour cream, sugar, and vanilla in medium bowl to blend. Pour topping over hot cheesecake, spreading to cover cheesecake filling completely.
2. Bake until topping is set, about 10-15 minutes. Transfer cheesecake to rack. Refrigerate hot cheesecake on rack until cool, about three hours.
3. Run a small, sharp knife between the crust and pan sides to loosen cake; release pan sides. Transfer cheesecake to platter.
4. Spoon reserved ganache into pastry bag fitted with small star tip. See Smitten Kitchen’s website for instructions to make a lattice top, or else decorate as you see fit. I drew lines across the top and piped stars all around the edges. Be creative!
5. Garnish with chocolate-covered espresso beans, if desired. Chill until the decorations are firm, at least 6 hours.