Cappuccino Fudge Cheesecake

Every year I get really excited about making my own birthday cake.  And every year, I spend nearly the entire month before my birthday agonizing over what cake to choose.  There are so many options, and given the ridiculous amount of time I spend thinking about it, this is apparently a life or death decision.  First I think cheesecake – then I think a more classic cake – then I think something extravagant, or something fun that no one else will ever ask me for – and then I go back to the beginning, and the cycle starts again.  This year it got so bad that I finally decided to write all my choices on slips of paper, throw them on the floor and let Andrew pick one randomly.  Incidentally, the very first option I had considered was this cheesecake, and it was the first slip of paper he picked up (…and then he tried to eat it.)

So cheesecake it was.  But not just any cheesecake – cappuccino fudge cheesecake.  Hello, gorgeous.  The base is a chocolate cookie crumb crust with a layer of ganache on the bottom.  The filling is a rich, smooth coffee-flavored cheesecake and the topping is a thin layer of sweetened vanilla sour cream (I know, that sounds gross but it’s not – trust me.)  Garnished with more ganache and chocolate-covered espresso beans – oh yeah.  I think this cake speaks for itself, and it really shouldn’t take much convincing to get you to try it.  My whole family enjoyed it, and I had to leave most of it with them to avoid devouring it by myself.  I had a few issues making this, but I think they were entirely related to my level of exhaustion at the time I was baking it.  My next birthday is now less than 11 months away.  I suppose I should begin deliberating now…

Cappuccino Fudge Cheesecake
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For the crust:
32 chocolate sandwich cookies, finely processed into crumbs
5 1/3 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Small pinch of salt

For the ganache:
1½ cups heavy cream
20 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
¼ cup coffee flavored liqueur

For the filling:
3 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1½ tbsp. all-purpose flour
1½ tbsp. dark rum
2 tbsp. instant espresso powder
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1½ tsp. mild-flavored (light) molasses
3 large eggs

For the topping:
1½ cups sour cream
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract

To make the crust, preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Butter a 9-inch springform pan and place it on a baking sheet.  Combine the chocolate cookie crumbs, melted butter and salt in a small bowl.  Toss with a fork to moisten all of the crumbs.  Press into a thin layer covering the bottom and sides of the springform pan (at least 3 inches up the sides).

Bring the cream to a simmer in a medium saucepan.  Place the chocolate in a medium bowl.  Once the cream reaches a simmer, pour the cream over the chocolate and let stand 1-2 minutes.  Add the coffee flavored liqueur and whisk in small circles until a smooth ganache has formed.  Pour 2 cups of the ganache over the bottom of the crust.  Freeze until the ganache layer is firm, about 30 minutes.  Reserve the remaining ganache; cover and let stand at room temperature for later decorating.

Preheat the oven to 350˚ F and position a rack in the middle of the oven.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and sugar on medium-high speed until well blended.  Beat in the flour.  In a small bowl, combine the rum, espresso powder, vanilla and molasses, stirring until the espresso powder dissolves.  Add to the cream cheese mixture and beat until well incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.  Beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl between each addition.

Pour the filling over the cold ganache in the crust.  Place the springform pan on a rimmed baking sheet.  Bake until the top is lightly browned, puffed and cracked at the edges, and the center moves only very slightly when the pan is lightly shaken, about 1 hour.  Transfer to a wire cooling rack.  Cool 15 minutes while preparing the topping (maintaining the oven temperature.)

To make the topping, whisk together the sour cream, sugar and vanilla in a small bowl.  Pour the topping over the hot cheesecake, spreading to cover the filling completely.  Bake until the topping is set, about 10-15 minutes.  Return to the cooling rack and let cool at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.  Transfer to the refrigerator and let cool at least 3 hours, until completely chilled and set.

To finish, wrap a warm towel around the outside of the springform pan to help loosen the crust from the sides.  Carefully remove the springform.  Transfer the cake to a serving platter.  Place the reserved ganache in a pastry bag fitted with a decorative tip and use to garnish the top of the cake as desired.  Garnish with chocolate-covered espresso beans as desired.  Chill until the ganache is completely firm, at least 6 hours.

Source: adapted from Smitten Kitchen, originally from Bon Appétit, February 2002

82 Responses

  1. I’m pretty sure I’ll be dreaming about this cheesecake tonight…

  2. this looks AMAZING! And the sour cream vanilla layer does not gross me out at all! I made a sour cream fudge frosting on Valentine’s Day for a Devil’s Food Cake and I was skeptical at first, but it was really delicious!

  3. First off, may I say how much I enjoy your site! I follow a number of food blogs and yours has become one of my favorites as well as the one I find myself actually using. Recently I’ve made your enchiladas (with the red sauce) which were a HUGE hit with my family and the banana bread waffles (also very popular with everyone).

    I made this cheesecake in November from the epicurious site. Wow! is all I can say. It was one of the best desserts I have ever made.

    Oh, and Happy Birthday!

    Thanks for the wonderful site!

  4. yum Annie!! i’ve been drooling over this cheesecake since SK posted it last fall…so glad your birthday cake worked out so well this year!

  5. Oh my. This looks Amazing! Happy Birthday to you 🙂

  6. Happy Birthday! Its my boyfriends birthday today and I am making your cookies and cream cake! I made the cake layers and frosting last night- I decided to hold off until today to make the cookie filling so that i wouldn’t eat it all for breakfast! 🙂 Thanks for the great recipe! Can’t wait to devour the final product tonight! Your blog is great!

  7. WOW! It looks fabulous and utterly divine. What abgreat choice for your birthday – how you had a good one. Its got so many yummy components and looks stunning!

  8. My husband would LOVE this! Happy Bday!

  9. Happy Birthday! The cheesecake looks fabulous!

  10. Happy belated birthday!!! This is such a gorgeous cake! I love it! You’ve decorated it so beautifully. I’m sure it tastes amazing – much better than the slip of paper Andrew tried to eat 🙂 I love cheesecake, chocolate, and coffee. The cake I posted today is decorated in chocolate covered espresso beans. I had never tried them before, but they’re actually pretty good!

  11. Um, yes please? I’d like a piece. 🙂 Looks wonderful!!

  12. Hope you had a very happy birthday Annie! This cheesecake looks absolutely drool-worthy! Definitely putting on my list of recipes to try 🙂

  13. Happy Birthday, Annie! That cheesecake is stunning – what a great bday treat to give yourself. I’m going to have to make this one!

  14. Dee-lish! That looks amazing! Happy Birthday! I do the same thing, my b-day is in a few weeks and am planning to make that Swiss Meringue frosting for my b-day cake!

  15. I love your scientific method for choosing your cake 🙂
    I made this over the holidays, and it is pretty amazing. Glad you had a happy birthday!

  16. wow….this would be dangerous in my house because I’d end up eating it myself!!! man it looks good!!! Happy belated birthday!

  17. Gorgeous dessert!

  18. this is totally right up my alley. I could eat cheesecake all day, and top it with mocha and fudge? Psh it would be gone in a second. Looks super good!

  19. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! Your cake looks fantastic. Wow. I made a decadent cheesecake for my birthday, too. Great choice! I’m already looking forward to your next bday cake haha.

  20. Oh wow!!! This looks like a once a year cake to me!

  21. This looks beautiful and sounds delicious! What a great birthday gift to yourself. Happy Birthday!

  22. In the words of Flava Flav….”Waaoooooooooooooowwwww”.

  23. Happy birthday! I just had my birthday last Saturday and didn’t know what to make either .. I just posted my birthday “cake” too. I ended up with a Key Lime Chiffon Pie. I almost went with cheesecake bc it’s my absolute FAVORITE!

  24. This looks amazing! Chocolate cookie crust with a layer of ganache!! Mmmmm coffee/espresso flavored desserts are best!

    Happy Birthday 🙂

  25. Happy Birthday Annie! This cheesecake definitely looks worthy of an amazing celebration! And, how cute you got Andrew’s help making the decision 🙂

  26. This looks and sounds amazing. Good choice, little Andrew! I must try this. I love everything about it, right down to the sour cream topping.

  27. Ha…that is so funny about making your own cake. I made a white layer cake for a friend for her bday. She hadn’t had her fave white cake in forever because she won’t make her own cake. Her hubby sure as heck fire ain’t putting on an apron! I going to send her this link. Looks amazing girl.

  28. Mmmm, this looks absolutely delicious!!

    Hope you had a wonderful birthday!!!!!

  29. I can tell there is at least a day’s worth of calories in a slice of your cheesecake. It looks gorgeous and delicious. I really would like a slice!

  30. Oh no you didn’t!!! You didn’t make the most delicious looking cheesecake that just added 3 inches to my hips just by looking at the pictures!!!

    Wow!!! Happy birthday!

  31. Oh, Annie, how I love/hate looking at your droolworthy photos. I could eat this whole cheesecake by myself…and love every last bite (but perhaps not so much the following stomachache.) Thanks for sharing. Another recipe to add to my list.

  32. Happy Birthday Annie! This cheesecake looks outrageous. My birthday is coming up next month, and this recipe is definitely a contender for my cake!

  33. Happy Birthday! I’ve made the Bon Appetit version of this cheesecake before. It’s a monster, a very delicious, rich, satisfying monster! Beautiful job, your cake is stunning!

  34. Happy birthday! Mmm… cheesecake. What a fantastic gift to yourself. I hear you on the agonizing over cakes — I spent many hours choosing my own cake last year. And now I’m stalking co-workers birthdays so that I can have an excuse to try many different cakes!

  35. Mmmm, I could stare at that cheesecake all day. But, actually, I probably wouldn’t have the chance because I’d have eaten it all first. Great post, Annie!

  36. this cheesecake caught my attention on smitten kitchen and ive been meaning to make it. it looks like the perfect way to celebrate a bday and your version is making my mouth water!! enjoy and happy birthday!!!

  37. Happy birthday Annie! If I could shrink myself down (oh, yes please!) and climb through my laptop screen, I would quite like to jump right into that cheesecake. This looks AMAZING

  38. Happy Birthday!! I am going to make this for my daughter’s school auction in a couple of weeks – yours came out beautifully!!!!

  39. What an amazing choice!
    I made this cake for Christmas dinner, but was so stressed out I messed up the piping and the pictures weren’t glorious at all. Yours rock!
    Happy belated birthday!

  40. This is the best cheesecake I’ve seen in AGES!! Happiest of Birthdays to you! I hope this year is absolutely beautiful for you. 🙂

  41. WOW. My husband would love this, and it would make a great “just because” gift to him. I hope you had a wonderful birthday!

  42. what a beautiful cake!!

  43. Yum!!! I’m sending this one to my dad to make – he’s the baker in the family.

  44. Wow. What a beautiful cheesecake!


  46. Yep. I agonize over my birthday cake as well. Every year. And all throughout the year I think “I’ll make THIS one for my birthday” then when September rolls around, I’ve forgotten, or I’ve said it so many times I can’t choose!

  47. If that isn’t a showstopper, I don’t know what is. And I’m the exact same about making my birthday cake each year. I’m glad I’m not the only one unabashedly making her own cake!

  48. holy moly…that is the most beautiful cake ever!

  49. I can never find instant espresso powder. You must have a really fab grocery store or is it from a specialty shop?

    • Jessie,
      The grocery stores near me are actually not good at all. I buy espresso powder at Williams Sonoma or the Fresh Market when I make the trip there but they aren’t close by.

  50. Wonderful cheescake!

  51. Hi,
    That is absolutely beautiful! I LOVE cheesecake and this is one of the prettiest cakes I’ve ever seen! I will be trying this recipe soon.
    I love checking to see what you have whipped up everyday, brightens my day! Thank you.

  52. This cheesecake looks amazing! It’s restaurant-worthy, for sure. Hope you had a happy birthday!

  53. Happy Birthday Annie!

  54. Haha, what a relief to hear that I’m not the only one spending ridiculous amounts of time thinking about my own birthday cake! It IS important. Cake is very essential, especially birthday cakes…. I should start planning – only 4 months left! 😉

    This cake looks divine. I LOVE all the layers!

  55. Absolutely love the colour of the cheesecake !! Happy Birthday!

  56. Um – WOW. That cheesecake looks to-die-for!

  57. WOW – when i saw it i was like amazed . so i’m into baking and that was loovedd ❤ its a beaautifull cake and delicious too (:

  58. This looks absolutely phenomenal! You know me, I have been racking my brain about what I want for my birthday and I keep coming back to cheesecake. It’s my true love 🙂 I’m thinking peanut butter and chocolate. This, however, I am definitely going to try!

  59. Happy Birthday, Annie! You made the perfect cake! I’ve been drooling over this ever since Deb posted it!

  60. I’ve decided (or my husband has all but forced me) to make this for Easter dessert. 🙂 I only have an 8inch springform pan. Do you have any idea how I would make this recipe work for that? Or should I just use whatever is left for a ramekin-sized cheesecake?

    • Melanie,
      Unfortunately I am no good at figuring out how to alter baking times and such for changing sizes of cheesecake pans. You’d definitely need to reduce the quantity of crust, batter, etc. (unless you baked additional small ones) but I’m not exactly sure how to go about it. Or, you could just invest in a 9- or 10-inch springform. It seems most recipes call for a 9-inch.

  61. Thanks for the push! I went out and bought a 9-inch because you’re totally right–most recipes call for it! 🙂 It’s baking up right now for Easter dinner!

  62. Me again! 🙂

    *whew* I did it! We haven’t cut into it yet, but I’m certain it’ll be amazing (after all, I was licking the batter and ganache throughout the process). I’m not very great at piping–but I’ll blame that on my lack of pastry bags and tips!

  63. Hi,

    This looks so delicious!! I was wondering what kind of cookies you used. I can’t find single chocolate wafers so I was thinking of just using oreos without the filling. Do you think that would be fine?

  64. Hi Annie,

    Please disregard the previous comments about the Cookie Dough Cheesecake! I figured it out. Thanks for the inspiration! Here’s a link if you’d like to see — it’s based on this recipe and retains the coffee flavor:

    • Hi Julie,
      Sorry I never had a chance to respond, I just have so many comments and emails it’s difficult to get to them all, especially those that require much thought on my part. Glad it worked out for you!

  65. Oh, don’t worry about it at all! I completely understand! Thanks 🙂

  66. Hi Annie. My daughter and I really enjoy your website. Do you have a good source for the chocolate covered espresso beans? Thanks!


    • Hi Teresa,
      You know, I had the hardest time finding them for this cake! I used to buy them at Starbucks but I called multiple Starbucks stores in the area (like, a ridiculous number) and none carried them anymore. I tried a few other places with no luck. Finally I found a local chocolate shop and called to see if they carried them. They did not have them for sale, but said they used them in their truffle making and let me purchase some at cost from them. But sheesh! Next time I’ll just order online.

  67. Hi,
    I’m baking this right now. I couldnt find sour cream and wonder can i substitute it with plain yogurt ?
    Anyway, I’m skipping the sour layer for this time…

    Pls help Thanks!

    • Simonne,
      In some contexts I think you can sub yogurt for sour cream, but I actually don’t think that would work well here. Sorry!

  68. Annie,
    Yupe I have sub yogurt in recipe call for egg+ flour.
    But this recipe only sour cream+ sugar. I’m sceptically too haha..
    Okay shall try it with sour cream next time. I’m sure it make a huge different!

  69. WOW! This is one impressive looking cheesecake and I am thrilled to say it came out beautifully. I made it for a friend’s birthday and everyone there raved about it, saying it was the best dessert they have ever had, much better than anything from a fancy bakery or restaurant. I used instant coffee and made the crust from 3 teddy graham crumbs, a little sugar, pinch of salt and 8 tbs butter. I baked it as instructed but put a pan of water on the bottom rack and even though there is a sour cream topping, there were no cracks to hide here, it was beautiful.

  70. If you have a Trader Joe’s near you, they carry chocolate covered espresso beans. Thinking about making this for my hubby’s birthday, cause he loves coffee and cheesecake. The combo together should knock his socks off, right? :o)

  71. Hi…I don’t have any kind of rum. What should I substitute for it? Thanks.

  72. Hi Annie,
    I made this AMAZING fudge last year. Last year I just used a instant coffee drink and it didn’t seem to have enough coffee flavor. I think you had told me you used an espresso powder. Where can I find this? Any ideas?

  73. My friend made this cheesecake for a Thanksgiving dessert this year and when we tried it, it was all I could do not to just devour the whole thing in one bite. This cheesecake is absolutely DELICIOUS and I am so excited for the chance to make it. My husband made me beg for the recipe so it sounds like I’ll have to make it very soon! Thank you for posting!

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