Last night at my book club’s annual holiday potluck, guests brought two appetizers, two soups, and a half dozen desserts. Obviously, this group of avid readers had forgone diets to indulge in sweet temptations. There were three kinds of cookies, big (not petit) vanilla frosted cupcakes topped with pomegranate seeds, dense brownies, and a loaf cake studded with fruits. At the end of the evening the few remaining desserts were quickly divvied up and carted off to enjoy at home!
“Tis the season to eat without guilt,” so I am including a new recipe for a rich and creamy cappuccino cheesecake. Just like a cup of cappuccino, this cheesecake has an espresso-scented base (made with both cream cheese and mascarpone) and is garnished with whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon. I also added a drizzle of chocolate sauce to complement the coffee flavor.
The cheesecake holds up well for two days in the fridge. You can make the sauce a couple of days ahead and whip the cream several hours in advance. Perfect for this time of year, this dessert serves 10 to 12 with generous portions, and can be transported easily if you’re going to a holiday potluck. Pack up the scales for the next few days, and pull out your cheesecake pans! It’s time to celebrate.
Cappuccino Cheesecake with Chocolate Sauce, Whipped Cream, and Cinnamon
1 1/4 cups plain chocolate wafers or graham crackers, ground
3/4 cup hazelnuts, toasted and ground (See note.)
1 tsp instant espresso coffee powder (crushed finely if it is coarse)
4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
16 oz mascarpone, softened to room temperature
12 oz cream cheese, softened to room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
3 tbsp instant espresso coffee powder dissolved in 1/4 cup hot or boiling water
3/4 tsp vanilla
3 large eggs, beaten lightly
4 oz semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
4 tbsp unsalted butter, diced
4 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp espresso coffee powder
1 cup whipping cream
2 tbsp confectioners’ sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Cinnamon for sprinkling
1. Arrange a rack at center position and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Crust: Combine cookie crumbs, ground nuts, and powdered espresso in a 9-inch springform pan. Add the melted butter and mix well with a fork until crumb mixture is thoroughly moistened. Pat the mixture evenly with your hands onto the bottom of the pan. Place the pan on a baking sheet and bake 5 minutes, and then cool 10 minutes, but retain oven temperature.
3. Filling: Beat the mascarpone and cream cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer on medium-high speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Gradually add the sugar, and beat to incorporate, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low and add the coffee and vanilla. Then pour in the beaten egg mixture gradually, and beat just until blended and mixture is very smooth, about 2 minutes.
4. Pour the batter into the springform pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake the cheesecake 40 minutes, then turn the oven off, but leave the pan in the oven for 40 minutes more. Remove and cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate for 3 hours or until chilled and set. (Cheesecake can be prepared 2 days ahead; keep refrigerated.)
5. Sauce: Place chocolate, butter, sugar, and espresso powder in a medium, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Whisk until mixture is smooth. Remove and cool a few minutes to thicken slightly. (The sauce can be prepared 2 days ahead; cover and refrigerate. Reheat, stirring, over medium low heat.)
6. Whipped Cream: In a large mixing bowl, whip the cream on medium high speed until it starts to thicken, then add the sugar and vanilla, and continue to beat until it is just firm. Transfer to a serving bowl.
7. To serve, run a sharp knife around the inside edge of the cheesecake pan, and remove the rim. Cut into 10 to 12 slices. Garnish each slice with a drizzle of chocolate sauce and a mound of whipped cream. Sprinkle some cinnamon over the cream. For a slightly more decorative garnish, transfer the warm chocolate sauce to a pour bottle, and drizzle the sauce in a zigzag pattern over each serving. Serve any extra sauce in a small bowl. Serves 10 to 12.
Note: To toast hazelnuts, spread on a rimmed baking sheet and bake in a preheated 350 degree F oven until browned and fragrant, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove and when cool enough to handle, place a handful of nuts in a kitchen towel and rub together to remove as much of skins as possible. Continue with remaining nuts. Grind the nuts in a food processor into a coarse meal.
Copyright Betty Rosbottom 2013
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