Adventures in Cheesecake

This particular adventure was inspired by a recipe I saw for coffee cheesecake brownies. Something with both brownies and cheesecake is bound to be great, right?

Well… not so much. At least, not this time.

While the cheesecake was good, both Andy and I thought the brownies weren’t the greatest. They were dry and cakey, and they didn’t have much chocolate flavor. (Maybe I did something wrong, maybe it’s the recipe, who knows.) Either way, I scrapped that recipe and decided that I’d be better off focusing on a coffee cheesecake instead.

I made quite a few changes from the original recipes. I skipped the chocolate-covered coffee beans (because I forgot to buy them and wasn’t making a second trip) and the ganache (because I was feeling lazy AND running out of time). I’m sure it’s fantastic with both the ganache and beans, but sometimes, something just has to give, if you know what I mean. 🙂

I used an Oreo crust, per Annie’s suggestion, since I didn’t have chocolate wafer cookies, and I went easy on the molasses in the filling, since I was pretty sure that mine wasn’t mild/light molasses. I was THIS close to skipping the sour cream layer on top (especially since I was getting the side-eye from Andy), but I’m really glad I didn’t. This was my first experience with a cheesecake that called for a separate sour cream layer, and I felt like it really took it to the next level. Next time, I think I’ll add a vanilla bean to the sour cream layer, just because the vanilla bean flecks are so pretty.

In spite of (or because of? who knows) all the tweaking, I ended up with a fantastic cheesecake. It was a big hit at our Sunday school Christmas party, and Andy and I had no trouble with the leftovers. We may have even had a slice for breakfast. It was coffee, after all. 🙂


Coffee Cheesecake 

For crust: 
32 chocolate sandwich cookies (I used off-brand Oreos), crushed into fine crumbs
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
pinch of salt

For filling: 
3 8-ounce bricks of cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons espresso powder
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon molasses
3 large eggs

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

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Fill a shallow baking pan with water and place on a low rack. Position another rack in the middle of the oven.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the crust ingredients and mix with a fork until just moistened. Pour the crumbs into a 9″ springform pan and press them on the bottom of the springform and up the sides of the pan. Bake for 5-7 minutes, or until crust is set. Remove from oven and let cool.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar until the mixture is smooth. Scrape the sides of the bowl, and mix in the flour. In a small bowl, combine the vanilla, espresso powder and molasses. Whisk together until the espresso powder dissolves. Pour the molasses mixture into the cream cheese and mix until well-combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl again, and beat in the eggs, one at a time, scrapping the sides of the bowl after each addition.

Pour the filling into the prepared pan and bake until the center barely jiggles when shaken and the top is puffed and golden brown, about an hour. Remove cheesecake from oven and set on wire rack while you prepare the topping. Maintain the oven temperature.

Whisk the sour cream, sugar and vanilla together in a small bowl. Pour over the hot cheesecake and smooth with a spatula. Return the cheesecake to the oven and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until the topping is set. Remove cheesecake from oven and cool on a wire rack until it reaches room temperature, then refrigerate for at least three hours, or until cheesecake is fully chilled.

Once the cheesecake is chilled, carefully remove the springform pan and place on a serving plate.

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen & Annie’s Eats, originally from Bon Appetit, February 2002

Click here for a printable version.

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