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Cappuccino-Fudge Cheesecake

Patricia Reitz

Cappuccino Fudge Cheesecake - ButterYum

I spotted this Cappuccino Fudge Cheesecake on Smitten Kitchen recently and, after reading the most tantalizing description, hoped an opportunity would soon present itself so I could make it.  To my delight, a dinner invitation was extended to our family shortly thereafter.  The cheesecake was a huge hit and several dinner guests proclaimed it to be the best cheesecake they'd ever eaten.  Here's the description that won my heart:

"...this cake is ridiculous, ridiculous bordering on obscene, so obscene that even a wee sliver of it takes an eating intermission mid-slice just to get through. Perhaps you’ll go get yourself a glass of water, do some stretches or deep yogic breathing, but I guarantee that you’ll do whatever it takes to psych you up enough to take on the second half.  

Because did I mention the part where this cake is ridiculous? Let’s start from the bottom. A standard cheesecake crumb crust consists of ground cookies and melted butter. This crumb crust takes those ground cookies and melted butter and raises it some brown sugar, fresh nutmeg and, oh, nearly half a pound of ground up bittersweet chocolate. For real. 

From there, a normal cheesecake would delve into the, you know, cheesecake layer. Not this one. This one decides that you need a cushion of fudgy Kahlúa-spiked ganache to soften the blow of the cappuccino cheesecake layer, which — as I am sure you’ve figured out by now — is also less than intuitive. You’d think that to make a coffee-flavored cheesecake, you’d simply dissolve some instant espresso in your batter. You probably wouldn’t think to also stir in rum, vanilla, and molasses (

molasses, people!) but I did as the recipe instructed and landed on a coffee cheesecake that is neither sweet nor obvious, but laced with the faint bitter complexity you’d want from a good cup of coffee. You know, if that good cup of coffee had four bricks of cream cheese in it.  

I suspect by now you yourself need an intermission, and perhaps a run around the block to clear your head before you take on the rest of this description and yet the cheesecake marches on, slicking a sour cream-vanilla layer upon the cheesecake, and more Kahlúa ganache atop that and then, since we are obviously no longer pretending we care anything about subtlety, you might as well stud it with some chocolate-covered espresso beans. To make sure people get the idea."

I used a plain round tip to pipe the lattice design and a star tip to pipe the decorative edge.

 Important Tip:

Don't let the piped ganache border chill against the springform pan because the cold ganache will glue the pan and cheesecake together like cement.  To avoid this, I removed the pan sides before piping, wrapped the naked cheesecake with a long strip of parchment paper, then piped the border and chilled the cheesecake until the ganache was firm before carefully peeling the parchment away.  For a clean presentation, each cut I make into any cheesecake is done with a sharp knife that has been warmed with hot water and dried.

Cappuccino Fudge Cheesecake

(a 2002 Bon Appetit recipe adapted from

makes one 10-inch cheesecake


9 ounces chocolate wafer cookie crumbs

6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted


1 1/2 cups heavy cream

20 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped

1/4 cup Kahlúa or other coffee-flavored liqueur


4 (four) 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature (that's a total of 32 ounces, or 2 pounds)

1 1/3 cups sugar

2 tablespoons all purpose flour

2 tablespoons rum (light or dark)

2 tablespoons instant espresso powder or coffee crystals

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

2 teaspoons molasses

4 large eggs


16 ounces sour cream

1/2 cup sugar

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Chocolate covered espresso beans

For the crust:

Combine cookie crumbs, chopped chocolate, brown sugar, nutmeg, and melted butter; press into a 10-inch springform pan, bottom and sides, to within-1/2 inch of top edge.  Chill while you make the ganache.

For the ganache:

Bring whipping cream to simmer in large saucepan. Remove from heat; add chocolate and Kahlúa. Whisk until chocolate is melted and ganache is smooth. Pour 1 to 1 1/2 cups ganache over bottom and sides of chilled crust. Freeze until ganache layer is firm, about 30 minutes. Reserve remaining ganache; cover and let stand at room temperature to use later for garnish. 

For the filling:

Position rack in middle of oven and preheat to 350F.

Using a stand mixer fitted with a BeaterBlade attachment, beat cream cheese and sugar on low speed until smooth.  Add flour, rum, espresso powder, vanilla, and molasses.  Add eggs, 1 at a time, occasionally scraping down sides of bowl if needed. 

Pour filling into frozen cookie crumb and ganache crust. 

Place cheesecake on rimmed baking sheet

. Bake until top is brown, puffed and cracked at edges, and center 2 inches moves only slightly when pan is gently shaken, about 1 hour 5 minutes. Transfer cheesecake to rack. Cool 15 minutes while preparing topping (top of cheesecake will fall slightly). Maintain oven temperature. 

For the topping:

Whisk sour cream, sugar, and vanilla in medium bowl to blend. Pour topping over hot cheesecake, spreading to cover filling completely. Bake until topping is set, about 10 minutes. Transfer cheesecake to cooling rack. Refrigerate hot cheesecake on rack until cool, about 3 hours. 

Run small sharp knife between crust and pan sides to loosen cake; release pan sides. Transfer cheesecake to platter. Using a pastry bag and tips of your choice, pipe ganache in a lattice design on top of the cheesecake, and pipe a decorative border around top edge.  Garnish with coffee beans, if desired.  Chill until lattice is firm (15 minutes or so).  Cheesecake can be made up to 4 days ahead.  Keep chilled in an airtight container.