Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Everything is Better in Texas, including the Espresso Kahlua Chocolate Cheesecake

Helllooooooo, Yankee Belle Cafe!
 The Fresh Pioneer is back and I've got the most delicious recipe. I think the original title is Cappuccino Cheesecake, but I didn't think that was descriptive enough. That sounded a bit like a lightly flavored coffee. NOOOO, this is some seriously STRONG cheesecake. The original blog post where I found it is over on Smitten Kitchen. I think she said one might need to take a break and jog around the block a few times while consuming a slice. This isn't for the faint of heart! 

Now, before I get started, let me just say that my Texas friend Christalee was also trying out this recipe AT THE SAME TIME. I made that all caps because I said I was going to try it, and she said she would too. All is well and good, yes? But we're homeschooling moms and juggling households and writing and kids and appointments and hungry peeps, so when we SAY we're going to do something, it doesn't always mean RIGHT THIS MINUTE, or even sometime in the next week. But oddly enough, we actually ended up making the cheese cake almost simultaneously, two thousand miles apart. 
(Here she is with her handsome husband, Greg. Aren't they adorable? This was at something called a Denim and Diamonds themed Christmas party. I'd never heard of such a thing. I had to Google. Like with a foreign language. Google translate said it had nothin' so I went ahead and asked.... The answer is basically: BLING. And more BLING. But she took off her blinged out jacket for the pic, so just use your imagination.)

Anyway, so, I think we started making cheesecake-making noises on a Monday. And then I got distracted, and then I had to go shopping, and then someone ate some of the ingredients and then I had revisions and then I made something else and... finally, I got everything together. 
And this is only some of it. 
MMMMM. Gratuitous chocolate picture.
So, starting with the crust, as all good cheesecakes do: 

1 9-ounce box chocolate wafer cookies 

(I used graham crackers because I couldn't find any wafer cookies that came in chocolate. Apparently, Oregon is a vanilla wafer state.)
6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup  dark brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
7 tablespoons hot melted unsalted butter

 Crush the cookies and add in the brown sugar, butter, and chocolate. I used a tiny little grinder I have and almost killed it. A food processor would be dandy. Press into the bottom of the pan and push a few inches up the sides.
Uh oh. A lego criminal is scaling the side of the cheesecake pan!
 Now, there's a thick layer of ganache at the bottom of the cheesecake. (What is ganache? Heaven. that's all you need to know.)

1 1/2 cups heavy or whipping cream
20 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup Kahlúa or other coffee-flavored liqueur
Melt the whipping cream and chocolate together, and add Kahlua.
Pour TWO CUPS of the ganache into the bottom of the cheesecake and let it chill for 30 minutes. (You'll need the reserve for the decorations.)
 Ok, now we're ready to assemble the filling. Preheat the oven to 350F.
Beat together the first three ingredients first, then add all the rest, one at a time, mixing well after each.

3 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons dark rum
1 1/2 tablespoons instant espresso powder or coffee crystals
1 1/2 tablespoons espresso powder
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons mild-flavored (light) molasses (all I could find was the normal stuff)
3 large eggs

 (Christalee used egg substitute and  everything worked just perfectly.)
 Here I am, holding up a spoon of cheesecake batter for Edna's approval. She said, "A few more minutes." So Thor kept a-going.
Wait, you don't remember who Thor is?
He's been working VERY hard to learn all the ins and outs of being a good mixer. Here, he's reading Edna's Sunbeam manual. See?  No bitter rivalry! Edna is the kind of mixer that will help you out when you need it.

 Here, she says the ganache is set and read for the cheesecake to be poured in!
 Mmmmmm...... Put the cheesecake on the middle rack and bake until browned at the edges, and moves just a little at the center, about one hour.
 Sour cream topping:

1 1/2 cups sour cream
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
 Oooooh, looking pretty!
 Now leave it to cool for 15 minutes. Don't turn off the oven, we'll need it.
 Spread the sour cream mix on the top and pop back into the oven.
Bake until the topping is set, about 15 minutes more.
 Chill the cheesecake for about 3 hours. Now put the ganache into a piping bag or tool and decorate. Add espresso beans.
 Hm. Well, I wasn't really sure about this cheesecake. I admit I didn't wait the entire 3 hours. And the flavor was VERY strong.
Huh. Even worse. the kids were loving it, and I was thinking I'd wasted $25 on a cheesecake that tasted like a gingerbread cookie soaked in coffee.
So, I was whining to Christalee about the cheesecake. (Specifically, I said, "Don't make the cheesecake! BAD! BAD!")

But she was already started! We were living parallel lives. (Except one of us was a lot cooler because she was TEXAN. I think it makes a difference in the kitchen. It's a genetic thing. Something you pick up in the air or something. That's my story and I'm stickin' to it. I bet The Tex will back me up on this.)

 Can you believe this?? This is hers. Gorgeous, tall, not sloppy and oozing. (P.S. Note her cornflower blue mixer in the background. That's Alice Leavitt (that means 'baker', of course), but you can call her Alice for short. She and Thor have been having Skype dates. Thor doesn't talk much, but I don't think Alice minds.
 Another picture of perfection.
A slice, note the specks of espresso. Funny, I think Christalee had to take this at 3AM because every other attempt was marred by photo-bombing children. Mostly fingers and spoons but I did see one whole face headed in with the mouth wide open. I don't blame them. I would have elbowed her out of the way, too.

 Shot of the inside. No oozing. No mess. THIS is what happens when you make an uber-complicated recipe and you're Texan.

To be fair, I did let it chill overnight and tried it again. It was MUCH better the next day. Still not a flavor I was crazy about, but I tend to like my cheesecakes fruity, not chocolaty. As for everyone else, they devoured it. Gone in two days. 

OK, I hope you enjoyed this transnational bake-a-thon! And many thanks to Christalee for sharing her photos (especially the Denim and Diamonds one!). 

Until next time!


  1. I am pretty sure its beauty has something to to do with the humidity here. Um, yes, that's it! Cheesecakes adore humidity.
    I love any recipe I can modify without the eggs and have it turn out this beautiful!
    This is a definite keeper and it was delicious! Hubby said it was too pretty to eat at first. (That didn't last too long. :P)
    Note: I learned the hard way...when letting kids pig out on this keep in does contain ESPRESSO! You know that commercial where you hear, "Mom, mom, momma..." Yeah... just sayin' might want a getaway plan in place.

    1. LOL. Eight year old boys on espresso cheesecake! Horrors!!

  2. I think you skinny friend went to Pinterest and found pictures and sent them to you LOL! I'm safe from trying this because I hate coffee! :-) but I LOVE chocolate in my cheesecake! not super strong but still chocolate rocks! I tried a white chocolate blueberry one at Cheesecke Factory and it was delish - as my friend said when she tried it - mine tasted more like cheesecake than the chocolate ones they had - they tasted cake-y.

    and I named the mixer Ramone! also you really need to get a doggy - you're not including gratuitioius puppy pictures! ok ignore the spelling - typos LOL!


    1. I chose the best of all her pictures. Most of them had small people crowding the frame for bites. Pinterest doesn't have many of those, but hey, maybe she found the secret board for "cheesecake pictures to fool your friends"!
      Ohhhh, Ramone... That's right. But my husband is related to a guy named Ramone and he's a goober. I sort of like Mr. Mixer and I don't want to curse him with a goober guy's name...

    2. sigh...ok I'll secretly call him Ramone though LOL! I wouldn't be surprised if Pinterest didnt' have a bunch of photos to fool your friends LOL! the other day someone posted on facebook this link for pinterest 'nailed it' - pic of the real deal then how theirs came out (or didn't come out!) pretty funny!

  3. THUD...oops, sorry, I slipped on some drool. Hi Thor! Hi Edna! So glad you are keeping himself in line...or should I say up to speed? Bwahahahahahaha!

    1. HAAHAAAA!!!! I'm telling you, Kav, you need to write that children's book. It would be entertaining for EVERYBODY.

  4. WOW!!! THAT'S MY FIRST GUT RESPONSE. I'm not sure it's even safe to have the ingredients in the house.


    1. I wasn't impressed at first, but it definitely improved with a day of chilling. Then again, I'm not one for molasses or dark brown sugar. That may have been part of my impression. I know it was supposed to bring out the espresso flavor, but I might enjoy a more straightforward coffee taste, rather than the layered molasses/gingerbread taste.

  5. Complicated recipe! Cheesecake can be a test in patients, 3hours in fridge. Great job on it, I bet it would freeze nicely.


    1. It did!! We actually had some of it in the freezer because I wanted our old babysitter to try it and I was afraid it would all be eaten.
      P.S. Her 3 month old nursing baby surely appreciated all that coffee and sugar!

  6. Hahaha ,Patients! I love spell checker- So helpful. It actually works if one eats too much cheesecake- Stacey

    1. HAAAHAAAHAAAA!!!!! The only thing better than a spellchecker fail is a witty response to spellchecker.

  7. This is one beautiful cheesecake!

    I'm a coffee hater, too, so I'd modify the recipe to leave out the coffee - but I'd be sure to include all the chocolatey goodness! There is nothing better than deep, dark chocolate. And with the layers? Ganache, cheescake, sour cream.... oh my. Heaven.

    But I have to say, I would have never let my children near this. Espresso combined with boys? Recipe for disaster - at least it would have been at our house!

    1. I haven't had it with the ganache layer before. That was a DEFINITE win. Especially when it was chilled! Like the inside of those Lindt truffle balls. The sour cream... Meh. With the coffee it just tasted sort of sour to me. The kids LOVED it. But even thought I'd had the sour cream layer before, it just didn't match the inside of this cheesecake, IMO.
      We had a very short window of time when the kids could have a very small sliver of the cheesecake. 8AM, pretty much. Luckily, we had guests two days in a row and we got most of the cheesecake knocked out until the final guests three days from then (who enjoyed a slice from the freezer!).

  8. This is hysterical. I can never explain why some things just roll out of someone's oven PERFECT and the oven with six clambering, climbing, drooling, Mom-I-Need-Help kids is slightly askew!!!

    But even with kids, some things come out wonderful and others.... blech.

    So I love the idea of the ganache, and this our takeaway on this, Virginia my friend.... Imagine a white chocolate ganache on top of a hazelnut crust then filled with ... what kind of filling. Oh, oh, oh,.... RASPBERRY SWIRLED CHEESECAKE..... Oh, this would work, my fair lady of the west.... I can see it, I can taste the hazelnut goodness and the vanilla cream ganache!!!! So we've learned from this coffee soaked cookie nonsense and we take it to GREATER HEIGHTS!!!! SUHWWEEEEET!

  9. Man, my comment disappeared. I'll try again.

    No matter how yours looked, Virginia, I'm sure it tasted just as good. But boy, hers sure was pretty!

  10. Oh, my goodness! How did I miss this? Guess that's what edits and doctor appointments will do to a person.

    But this...THIS looks absolutely divine. Save for anything coffee flavored. Bleck. But I would just leave that out. I mean, why mess with perfectly good chocolate flavor? And chocolate and cheesecake...?

    Heaven... I'm in heaven. :)