Cappuccino Fudge Cheesecake

8:01 AM

This year Lance didn't know what kind of cake he wanted for his birthday (again), so I read off to him the massive pile of "to try" cakes I have, and he wanted this "Cappuccino Fudge Cheesecake," believe it or not.  I kept asking him if he was sure he wanted cheesecake, and if he was sure he wanted it coffee flavored (he normally likes more basic "chocolate" or "strawberry" types), and he said he did.  Okay! 

We are suckers for a delicious cheesecake, and I loooove making them and trying to perfect the cheesecake technique and overall deliciousness.  This recipe I found on Smitten Kitchen really looked and sounded appealing, and thanks to my Wonderful Wancie, I finally put it to the test.

Wow this baby was good! Slightly on the eat-too-much-and-feel-like-barfing-its-so-rich side, but isn't that what makes a cheesecake really, really good? That a few small bites will satisfy your craving? This definitely did it for us.  I ended up doubling the instant coffee since I didn't have ground espresso beans, and I started to panic thinking I made the flavor way too intense, but once it is paired with the fudge bottom and the sour cream topping (yum!), it really balanced it out.  I really liked the addition of the chocolate covered espresso beans, as it really summed up what this cheesecake was all about.  I am terrible at anything pretty or artistic, so I just drizzled ganache over the top rather than trying to do a pretty design.  Everyone was excited over the presentation and the flavor, and I couldn't help but blush when Big Lance gushed over it to his friend yesterday, who ended up taking the rest of it off our hands.  It was wonderful, but let's not pretend that this is P90X or Weight Watchers friendly, mmmk?

Cappuccino Fudge Cheesecake
Serves 12

1 9-ounce box chocolate wafer cookies
6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
½ cup packed dark brown sugar
⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
7 tablespoons hot melted unsalted butter

1 ½ cups heavy whipping cream
20 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
¼ cup Kahlúa

3 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 ½ tablespoons all purpose flour
1 ½ tablespoons dark rum
1 ½ tablespoons instant espresso powder or coffee crystals
1 ½ tablespoons ground whole espresso coffee beans - medium coarse grind (you can skip this and increase the instant powder instead)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 ½ teaspoon light molasses
3 large eggs

1 ½ cups sour cream
⅓ cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
handful of chocolate covered espresso beans (optional)

1.  Make crust: 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.  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 ½ inch of top edge, then over bottom of pan.

2.  Make ganache: Bring cream to simmer in a large saucepan.  Remove from heat; add chocolate and Kahlúa.  Whisk until chocolate is melted and ganache is smooth.  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 for later decorating.

3.  Make filling: Position rack in middle of oven and preheat to 350˚.  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.  Stir rum, espresso powder, ground coffee, 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.  Transfer cheesecake to rack.  Cook 15 minutes while preparing topping (top of cheesecake will fall slightly, making room for topping).  Maintain oven temperature.

5.  Make topping:  Whisk sour cream, sugar, and vanilla in medium bowl to blend.  Pour topping over hot cheesecake, spreading to cover completely.  Bake until topping is set, about 10 to 15 minutes.  Transfer cheesecake to rack.  Refrigerate hot cheesecake on rack until cool, about three hours.

6.  Run small sharp knife between crust and pan sides to loosen cake; release pan sides.  Transfer cheesecake to platter.  Spoon reserve ganache into pastry bag fitted with small tip and decorate as desired (those less artistic can quickly drizzle ganache over top - it still makes a pretty presentation).

7.  Garnish with chocolate-covered espresso beans, if desired.  Use a small drop of ganache to hold the beans into place on cake.  Chill until ganache is firm, at least six hours.

8.  Do ahead: Cake is best made a day ahead, so the flavors have time to settle.  The cake also takes enough time to make that it's best not to rush through it the day you want to serve it.  It can be made up to four days ahead.  Wrap loosely in foil, forming dome over ganache decoration; keep chilled.

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