The Endless Cappuccino-Fudge Cheesecake

I’m not going to claim this was a quick one. First, I had to track down chocolate wafer cookies (no, Oreos are not the same thing.) Then, I assembled our new food processor for the first time and gleefully swirled the cookies around in it. I chopped up some good chocolate and weighed it out with our new kitchen scale. Then, I called my mother to tell her how exciting it was to use the new food processor and new kitchen scale. An hour had gone by and I wasn’t even done with step one.

But once I got rolling, with the help of my friend (and cheesecake expert extraordinaire) Lindsay, I got more and more excited. The scent of dark chocolate ganache and freshly ground espresso beans wafted through the kitchen. The buttery chocolate-crumb crust rested in the freezer. The recipe was from Lindsay’s files—she used to bake cheesecakes for local restaurants in New Hampshire after college. She became a bit famous, but the constant cheesecakes were so much work, and the ingredients so costly, that it wasn’t quite worth it.

Five hours after I started with the crust, the coffee cheesecake layer was baked and topped with a slightly tart and rich sour cream layer (like the foam on a cappucino.) Five hours. And it still needed chilling and decorating. Dear readers, do not plan on making this the evening of of a dinner party. This is not a last-minute dessert.

But therein lies the beauty. Once assembled and topped with a lattice of dark chocolate ganache, this baby really improves in the fridge. I’m not exaggerating—the first day we ate this cake, we were underwhelmed. And then something magical happened, and with a second day’s rest, the flavors melded and the cheesecake layer grew creamier and more luscious. Lindsay and I made the cake on Wednesday, adding ganache on Thursday, and on Friday friends who came over to help us eat it couldn’t stop cooing over their hefty slices.

And that wasn’t the end—there was still so much cake left. But guests who joined us the following Wednesday (a full week after the five hour baking marathon) couldn’t get over how delicious it was. The intense coffee flavor! The fudgy crust! The perfect balance of the creamy-and-tart topping! When they returned two nights later they were saddened that we’d finally, finally finished the last slice. “Just think of all the unfortunate people who didn’t get to taste that cheesecake,” one lamented (after a few beers.)

But you (and your friends—it’s a big cake) don’t have to be unfortunate in that way. Just make sure you’ve got a little time on your hands.

Recipe after the jump.


Looking for an easier cheesecake? This crustless lemony goat cheese cheesecake was easy as pie…or easier.

Cappuccino-Fudge Cheesecake
from Bon Appétit Feb 2002 (with a few small changes)
Note: the original recipe calls for a 10″ springform pan. The cake rose over the top of the pan, so I’d recommend an 11″, and I bet you could even bake this in a 12″ pan. Be careful not to overbake.

For the crust
1 9-ounce box chocolate wafer cookies
6 ounces good bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (I used Callebaut)
1/2 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
7 tablespoons hot melted unsalted butter

For the ganache
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
20 ounces good bittersweet chocolate, chopped (I used Callebaut)
1/4 cup Kahlúa or other coffee-flavored liqueur

For the coffee cheesecake filling
4 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/3 cups sugar
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 tablespoons dark rum
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
2 tablespoons freshly ground whole espresso coffee beans (fine grind)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons mild-flavored (light) molasses
4 large eggs

For the topping:
1 1/2 cups sour cream
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Chocolate covered espresso beans (optional, but good for covering ganache mistakes)

For crust:
Finely grind cookies, chopped chocolate, brown sugar, and nutmeg in a food processor. Add melted butter and process until crumbs begin to stick together, scraping down bowl occasionally, about 1 minute. Transfer crumbs to 10-inch-diameter springform pan with 3-inch-high sides. Wrap plastic wrap around your fingers and press crumb mixture firmly up sides to within 1/2 inch of top edge, then over bottom of pan. Make sure the corners aren’t too thick, as the crust gets quite hard.

For ganache:
Bring whipping cream to a gentle simmer in large saucepan. Remove from heat; add chocolate and Kahlúa. Whisk until chocolate is melted and ganache is smooth. Pour 1 to 1 1/2 cups ganache over bottom of crust to cover evenly with a thin layer. Freeze the crust until ganache layer is firm, about 30 minutes. Reserve remaining ganache; cover and let stand at room temperature to use later for creating lattice pattern. (At this point, I refrigerated the ganache in the saucepan to add the lattice the next morning. It needed a tiny bit more cream and a little heat to be soft enough to pipe the next day.)

For filling
Position rack in middle of oven and preheat to 350°F. Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar in large bowl until blended. Beat in flour. Stir rum, espresso powder, ground coffee, vanilla, and molasses in small bowl until instant coffee dissolves; beat into cream cheese mixture. Beat in eggs 1 at a time, occasionally scraping down sides of bowl.

Pour filling over cold ganache in crust. Place cheesecake on rimmed baking sheet. Bake until top is brown, puffed and cracked at edges, and center 2 inches moves only slightly when pan is gently shaken, about 1 hour 5 minutes. Transfer cheesecake to rack. Cool 15 minutes while preparing topping (top of cheesecake will fall slightly). Maintain oven temperature.

For topping:
Whisk sour cream, sugar, and vanilla in medium bowl to blend. Pour topping over hot cheesecake, spreading to cover filling completely. Bake until topping is set, about 10 minutes. Transfer cheesecake to rack and let cool 10 minutes. Refrigerate hot cheesecake on rack (or on rack built into your fridge) until cool, about 3 hours (or overnight.)

Run small sharp knife between crust and pan sides to loosen cake; release pan sides. Transfer cheesecake to platter. Spoon reserved ganache into pastry bag fitted with small star tip. Pipe 6 diagonal lines atop cheesecake, spacing 1 inch apart. Repeat in opposite direction to make a diamond lattice shape (I screwed this up and ended up with squares, whoops!) Pipe rosettes of ganache around top edge of cake. Garnish with chocolate covered coffee beans, if desired. Chill until lattice is firm, at least 6 hours. (Can be made 4 days ahead. Wrap loosely in foil, forming dome over lattice and keep chilled.)

Note: depending on how ornate your lattice and rosettes are, you may end up with leftover ganache. Don’t let it go to waste! Refrigerate until firm, then scoop into small balls to make truffles! Roll each truffle quickly in your hands until round, then roll in unsweetened chocolate. Truffles keep well in the freezer, let come fully to room temperature before eating.

In baking, cake, cheesecake, coffee, dessert, dinner party, entertaining

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