This cheesecake is seriously good. It’s so good, I’ve been making it for over 25 years. Did I just type that?
But let’s not digress into how old I must be in order to be baking cheesecakes that long. This post is about cheese.
Cheese is a big deal in our family. We’ve been known to skip the meal and just get stuck on the cheese course. My sis even gave my girls a giant hunk of cheese one year for Christmas. No fooling. We’re a cheesy family.
While we certainly love fancy-cheeses-served-with-charcuterie-on-live-edge-maple-slabs-with-lavender-honey kind of cheese, there’s just something about the classic favourites that make us warm and fuzzy. So you can get all gourmet and make a plate of crazy-good Fontina, Walnut, Apple, and Honey Grilled Cheese Goodness, and it’s delicious, of course. But in my family, there’s nothing like an old-style Kraft Singles grilled cheese sandwich, made in a cast iron pan with lots of butter, with ketchup served on the side. This was my husband’s go-to instant meal for the girls when they were growing up, and for any of their visiting friends who didn’t like whatever else we might be serving that day. We went through a lot of Kraft Singles in those days.
And don’t get me started on Kraft shredded cheddar or mozzarella, which the girls heaped on just about anything. Somehow, everything tasted better to them with a little shredded cheese on it. These are the kinds of things that can save your parenting sanity when you’re raising a picky eater.
The other cheese staple in our house is Philadelphia Cream Cheese. You can’t have a toasted bagel around here without reaching for the Philly. And when I was growing up in an Italian immigrant household where very few “Canadian” foods were served, Philadelphia was always heaped on top of our dishes of steaming polenta before being topped with my dad’s game stews. Don’t ask me how a bunch of Northern Italians came to believe Philadelphia Cream Cheese was the perfect partner for polenta and game stews, but there you go.
But BY FAR the best use of Philadelphia I can think of is for cheesecakes. Can you imagine a better way to use a hunk of cheese? I’ve tried cheesecakes made with different kinds of cheeses including ricotta and mascarpone, but I find nothing compares to Philly cheesecake. And this one is exquisite. It’s got sour cream to make it silky, and the coffee really enhances the chocolate flavor. There’s a reason I’ve been making this recipe for 25 years, and you’ll understand when you try it for yourself.
I can’t recall where I found the original recipe, and it’s been modified many times over the years. This is my favourite version. It’s fast to make, and always a winner.
And I have the best news EVER. In writing this post, I’ve discovered something life-changing. In fact, it’s going on my list of “Things That Make Your Life Better.” Because my whole family happens to be away and I didn’t want to eat an entire cheesecake myself, I decided to freeze the cheesecake. After I had one piece of course. Or maybe two.
Dear Readers, please take note. Cheesecake freezes beautifully. That means you can always have some on hand to impress judgy relatives who drop in. And you can prepare dessert ahead of time for easier dinner parties. Or you can have something in the freezer for when you’re up late finishing your taxes and feeling desperate for a sugar hit. Freezing this cheesecake can change your life.
Here’s what you do. Wrap the cheesecake well with plastic wrap, followed by foil. That’s it. You can freeze it for up to 2 months. To defrost, all you have to do is pop the whole thing into the fridge overnight.
But first you have to bake it! This is one of the easiest desserts to make – just blend all of the wet ingredients in a food processor and pour into your prepared crust. Bake, cool, and then get ready to wow your family. Or yourself 😉
Chocolate Espresso Cheesecake
makes one 9½ inch cake
1 package chocolate wafer cookies
2/3 cup ground almonds (a 100 gram package)
2 tbsp sugar
5 tbsp butter, melted
1/3 cup brewed espresso coffee
10 oz Philadelphia cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
3 oz semi-sweet chocolate, melted
1¼ cup sour cream
3 oz semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
2. Toast the ground almonds until golden and place into a 9½ inch springform pan. Grind the chocolate wafers in a food processor and add to the pan. Mix in butter and sugar, and pat mixture on to the bottom of the pan and up the sides.
3. Add cream cheese and sugar to a food processor and mix until combined. Add melted chocolate, coffee, sour cream, and eggs and blend. Pour into pan, and bake for 50 minutes. Turn off heat and let cheesecake cool in oven with door ajar. The top of the cake may crack, but don’t worry – you will cover this in the next step.
4. Shave or grate the remaining 3 oz of chocolate, and spread over the top of the cooled cake. Release from springform pan and serve!
If you don’t have espresso, then just bre
w regular coffee but twice as strong.
I’ve always had trouble releasing this cake from the bottom of the springform pan. I usually just leave it on the pan bottom, and put the entire thing on my serving plate. If you would like to release it intact, you might want to try lining the bottom with parchment paper.
You can pick up Philadelphia or any of the other cheeses I mentioned during Kraft Cheesefest at Loblaws taking place from March 19 – April 9. I’d suggest you stock up on some Philly and try a few other cheesecake recipes, like our other family favourite, these mini Cherry Cheesecakes.
This post was kindly sponsored by Kraft Canada. All opinions, as always, are my own.