A decadent, creamy, crunchy, chocolatey cheesecake. YUM!
There’s a slight problem with this cheesecake. It’s gone. And I only got a couple bites. I’ve been working on these pictures and wishing it was still here in front of me. That’s the problem with bringing something yummy to a potluck. You’re supposed to be bringing it for everyone else to enjoy, but I’m wishing I would have saved myself a whole piece! I cannot believe it took me this long to combine all of my favorite dessert things into one cheesecake. I love chocolate. I love coffee. I love cheesecake. And the toffee crunch is a bonus on top of it all. I’ve been working on perfecting my cheesecake making for probably 20 years now (that makes me feel old) – and I have figured out an almost fail proof way to make a creamy cheesecake. I have promised you before that cheesecake is not as hard as you think it is to make! This is an adapted version of my “plain” cheesecake with a bunch of yummy things thrown in equalling a Chocolate Coffee Toffee Crunch Cheesecake. And it’s kind of fun to say too.
One of the very first things to remember with any cheesecake…. it is not a last minute dessert. It needs at least 24 hours to sit in the refrigerator, but preferably 48 hours. It really does get better with time. There are a couple pieces of equipment that are a necessity with making a cheesecake. The first, a springform pan. They aren’t very expensive, and even if you make a cheesecake once a year at the holidays, I’d say it’s a good investment. Now, springform pans come in different sizes, and that can be frustrating because I’m sure you’ve seen recipes for 8″, 9″ and 10″ pans. I use my 10″ one the most. I decided that if you’re going to make cheesecake, make a big one. Cheesecake is a fabulous dessert to bring for the holidays or for any large gathering. Everyone is always excited when a cheesecake is an option. Also, cheesecakes freeze really well, so make a big cheesecake!
The next most important thing in any cheesecake making is to have your ingredients at room temperature. I cannot stress this enough. It’s one of the biggest tricks in cheesecake making, and it’s a great trick because it doesn’t involve work, just some pre-planning! I like letting the cream cheese sit out on the counter for many hours, versus warming it up in the microwave. It’s just a better way. Make sure the eggs are room temperature too. As I mentioned before, there are a couple pieces of equipment that are essential for cheesecake making. The second item is a KitchenAid mixer. I love, love, love mine. I’ve had it for 13 years and love it. If you don’t have one, you need one. You really do. You’ll have it forever and you can do sooooo many things with it. It is a fantastic investment in your kitchen. I love mine so much I want another one in my favorite color. I know that I’ll be able to justify having two of them someday. One of the other tricks in cheesecake making is to whip the cream cheese for quite a long time on high. There is pretty much no other way to do this than a KitchenAid mixer.
I’ve said before that graham cracker crusts are not my favorite. I’ve just never been a fan, so I always try to find another option. Obviously for a chocolate cheesecake, a chocolate crust is the perfect choice. You can crush chocolate cookies or Oreos or I’ve used chocolate Teddy Grahams before, but my favorite thing to buy is the pre-made Oreo pie crust. Just break it up with a fork, add a little bit of sugar and melted butter, and press it into your springform pan. Fast and easy!
I like to transfer my finished cheesecakes to a pretty serving platter after they’ve been in the refrigerator for a day or two. I’ve always been able to get a couple spatulas under the crust and carefully transfer the entire cheesecake to a platter. I was in a little bit of a rush getting out the door, so I probably wasn’t as patient as I should have been, and I didn’t get the spatulas under the crust enough. The cheesecake transferred great and didn’t crack….but most of the crust was left behind on the pan. Ugh. How annoying. I’m sure no one really noticed, but it was really frustrating. To ensure that doesn’t happen you can do a couple things. Spray the springform pan with a cooking spray, or you can line the very bottom with a piece of parchment paper cut to the size of your pan. Either one should help with the sticking crust problem. I forgot to do either of those things, and I’m sure it would have solved that problem. Here’s a good time to wrap the bottom of the pan with a piece of aluminium foil, just to prevent any possible leaks.
This chocolate filling was extremely easy. Add the chocolate chips and the cream into a glass bowl and microwave until just barely melted. Stir every 30 seconds or so. Don’t microwave it too long. Add in the instant coffee and stir together. You’ll still see coffee granules in the chocolate mixture, but don’t worry, they’ll dissolve when you whip it together with the cream cheese.
Part of my love of cheesecake is it involves very few ingredients. Cream cheese, sugar and eggs are pretty much it. I love cream cheese, and I was just telling my friend Amy that at any given time I can find 6-8 packages in my fridge. You never know when you’ll “need” a cheesecake. Ha.
I know I already said this, but make sure all your ingredients are at room temperature. It’s not one of those optional instructions. Add your cream cheese to your KitchenAid and start whipping it with the paddle attachment. After about a minute, scrape the sides. Keep mixing on high, or almost high. It’ll feel like the KitchenAid is going to fly right off your counter. It’s incorporating air into the batter, which will make your cheesecake light and creamy. After those five minutes, add the sugar and whip again for two minutes. Scrape the sides once during that time too.
Then add the pinch of salt, vanilla and the chocolate mixture and mix on medium until well blended, about a minute. Now, here is the next trick in cheesecake making. Crack one egg into a small bowl (you really don’t want to take a chance in getting a shell in the bowl!) and add one egg at a time to the cream cheese mixture. Mix it on the lowest speed until just incorporated, then repeat with the remaining eggs. When all the eggs are added, I like to remove the bowl and paddle and scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula just to make sure everything was mixed in. Pour over the prepared crust.
A note on buying cream cheese. In my opinion, always buy regular cream cheese. Don’t buy low fat or no fat cream cheese for cheesecake. Ever. Remember what you’re making…. a dessert. If people are going to choose to eat a dessert, they want it to be fabulous. Also, buy the best cream cheese you can afford. However, with that said, I have had extremely good luck with the brand Hahn’s. I found it in our local grocery store and it’s always either on sale or very inexpensive. Each 8oz package was only $1.29! Not all brands of cream cheese are good, but I have been buying this brand for a year now and have had excellent luck with it.
This next step is one of my favorite finds in cheesecake making. It’s a sour cream glaze, made from sour cream, a little sugar and some almond extract. I was skeptical at first about this step, but I love it. It does a few things. It covers any potential cracks on the top of the cheesecake and makes it pretty. The funny thing about that, is this cheesecake recipe rarely ever has any cracks. I think I’ve only had it crack twice in the decades I’ve been making my basic recipe. I didn’t remember to get a picture of the done cheesecake before the glaze, but it didn’t have any cracks. The glaze is also delicious and adds that bit of extra yum.
After you have the glaze on and in the refrigerator, wait an hour or two before adding the chocolate toffee bits. Sprinkle them over the entire top of the chocolate cheesecake. Keep the cheesecake uncovered in the refrigerator for 24-48 hours. You can drizzle the melted chocolate on top at any point. Just melt chocolate chips and a little bit of shortening, stir together well and drizzle with a fork over the entire cheesecake.
Before removing the springform pan sides, run a sharp knife around the edges to make sure nothing sticks and cracks your cheesecake when you remove the pan. To remove the cheesecake from the bottom and place on a serving platter…. take a thin spatula and carefully place it under the crust and move it around the outside edge of the pan to loosen the crust from the pan. Then take another thin spatula and place it on the opposite side of the pan from other spatula. A third spatula and another person is also helpful in this! I’ve done it myself, just lift slowly and carefully to your platter. A final tip – cheesecake is easiest to cut when partially frozen and using a sharp knife dipped in hot water.
Maybe one of my boys will request this for their birthday this fall so I can have another piece. Maybe I’ll “help” them choose what they want. Ha.
(Part of this recipe was inspired by The Ultimate Cheesecake Cookbook)