Thursday, April 15, 2010

Espresso Cheesecake

For those of you who are lactose intolerant, look away.  This ain't gonna be pretty.  For the rest of you, take notes because if you bring this to your next gathering you will be a total rock star.  It's got a lot of steps but it's not hard (but no one has to know that).  If you play your cards right, you won't have to lift a finger for the rest of the party.  You'll just sit there, basking in the glow of your lovely cheesecake.

This is a New York cheesecake which means its a denser, dryer cheesecake.  A little slice goes a long way.  All the better to feed a big crowd, right?  It's got 7, yes SEVEN packages of cream cheese and it uses those chocolate wafer cookies that I've only ever used for cookie crusts or an icebox cake.  Does anyone buy these just to eat out of hand?

If you take the basic cheesecake recipe you could dress her up in any way you like, i.e. add a fruit or caramel topping or a different cookie crust.  For me, I wanted a little espresso flavor married to my chocolate.  I think they're going to be very happy together.  It also makes more filling than your crust will hold so do what you will with the rest-make an extra crust, bake the filling alone or just eat it out of the refrigerator at midnight...who's going to know?

Espresso Cheescake
Feeds a multitude

6T unsalted butter, melted
1 9 oz. package of chocolate wafer cookies
3T + 1t sugar
pinch of sea salt
1t espresso powder

7 8 oz. packages of Philadelphia cream cheese (at room temp!)
2 1/4 c sugar
1/2 c all-purpose flour
1 c sour cream (at room temp!)
5 large eggs (at room temp!)
1t vanilla
1t coffee extract (if you don't have this, increase the vanilla to 2t)
1/2t fine sea salt

1/2 t espresso powder
4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped

1.  Bring your sour cream, cream cheese and eggs to room temperature.  This is crucial to the success of the cheesecake.  It will take at least an hour.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter the sides of a 9 or 10-inch springform pan.  Line the bottom of the pan with a circle of parchment paper.
3. Finely crush the wafer cookies until they are crumbs.  I pulse them in the food processor.  Combine them with the 3T of sugar, 6T of melted butter, a pinch of sea salt and 1t of espresso powder.  Mix until combined.
4.  Press the cookie crumb mixture into the bottom of the prepared springform pan.
5. Sprinkle the remaining 1t of granulated sugar over the cookie crust.  Now use a measuring cup to level the crust and pack it into the pan.  Press the crust slightly up the sides of the pan until even all around.
6. Put on baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes.  Let cool completely.
7.  In the bowl of a mixer, beat the cream cheese until very fluffy, 3-5 minutes.
8.  Whisk together the flour, sugar and sea salt.  With the mixer on low, gradually add the dry ingredients to the cream cheese.  Mix until smooth.
9.  Add sour cream, vanilla and coffee extract and mix until smooth. Scrape down sides of bowl.
10.  Add eggs one at time.  Add the next egg as soon as the first yolk breaks.  Scrape down the mixer for a final time.
11.  Wrap springform pan in two sheets of heavy duty tin foil.  Have a large roasting pan ready.
12. Pour the cheesecake filling into the crust until it's 4-5 inches high.  DO NOT SCRAPE THE BATTER OUT OF THE BOWL OR YOU WILL HAVE A LUMPY CHEESECAKE.  Sorry, didn't mean to yell, it's just important.  No scraping of the spatula, mixer beaters or bowl.  More leftover batter for you!
13. Transfer cheesecake into the roasting pan and into the oven.  Carefully pour boiling water into the roasting pan until it reaches about halfway up your springform pan. 
14. Bake for 45 minutes.  Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees and continue to bake another 30 minutes or until cake is set but still slightly wobbly in the center.
15. Turn oven off but leave door propped open with a wooden spoon.  Leave the cheesecake in there for an hour.  Transfer to wire rack to cool.

1.  Melt chocolate for topping by microwaving chopped chocolate at 50% power for 30 seconds at a time.  Stir until melted and combine with espresso powder.  Pour melted chocolate into a ziploc bag and seal.  Cut a small hole in one corner of the bag.
2. Squeezing the bag, pipe straight lines across the top of the cheesecake.
3. Perpendicularly drag a skewer or toothpick through the lines of chocolate and batter.  Alternate directions each time.  (see photo below)
4. Refrigerate cheesecake overnight but don't cover it with plastic wrap or foil.  That will cause condensation and ruin all your hard work.

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