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Published December 24, 2008, 12:00 AM

Triple Delight

Chocolate, cheesecake, coffee combine for one great dessert
The holiday season for sharing sweet treats and eating them yourself continues, but it won’t be long before the “new you” New Year’s resolution begins.

By: Sue Doeden, The Forum

The holiday season for sharing sweet treats and eating them yourself continues, but it won’t be long before the “new you” New Year’s resolution begins. Right now, going to bed with a sugar-high headache is still allowed. Calories that don’t count, Christmas cookies for breakfast – still justifiable.

So, how about a little Cappuccino Cheesecake with your next cup of morning coffee? Totally acceptable.

I must admit that I am a cheesecake lover. And a chocoholic. And don’t mess with me before I’ve had my morning coffee. Cappuccino Cheesecake takes care of all my sweet, rich, caffeinated desires.

Cheesecake is one of the easiest desserts in the world to make. It doesn’t take much time to press a crumb crust into a pan and pour in an easy-to-mix-up cream cheese filling. And you can make a cheesecake days before serving it – the flavor develops with age. What’s not to love?

Cute Little Cappuccino Cheesecakes are baked in small aluminum foil tart pans, which can be found in all grocery stores. Once the baked cheesecakes have been chilled, all you have to do is push up on the bottom of the pan, and the rich delicacy pops right out, all in one piece. This eliminates any problems you may have experienced in the past, trying to get nice, clean-looking slices of cheesecake on each dessert plate. No more cheesecake sticking to the cutting knife.

The creamy filling, with just a touch of espresso flavor, melts in your mouth with the crunchy chocolate-almond crust lingering behind, giving texture to chew on. The crowning glory on these divine, single-serving-sized cakes is an espresso-spiked chocolate topping. The fancy name for this topping is ganache, a French term for thick, silky sauce made of chocolate and cream.

It stays pliable when chilled, so a fork slides right through this topping. The ganache holds on tight as it covers the thick filling. It won’t slide off as you bring the fork full of decadence to your mouth. No cracking or crumbling. It’s absolutely perfect.

So for now, eat Cute Little Cappuccino Cheesecakes without remorse. If you feel like sharing, give them as a special gift to friends. These little cuties become even cuter when they’re wrapped up in cellophane, tied up tight with pretty ribbon and two forks attached.

Believe it or not, there are some who will say they can eat only half of one of these Cute Little Cappuccino Cheesecakes. Or send friends home from your New Year’s party with a smile on their faces with the memory of a wonderful cheesecake dessert running through their heads.

Chocolate. Coffee. Cheesecake. Oh, my ganache.


Cute Little Cappuccino Cheesecakes

Crust:

16 ounces (about 33) cream-filled chocolate sandwich cookies

½ cup whole almonds

½ cup (1 stick) butter

Filling:

¼ cup heavy whipping cream

2 teaspoons instant espresso powder

2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened

1 cup sugar

¼ teaspoon salt

1½ teaspoons vanilla extract

3 large eggs

Topping:

¼ cup heavy whipping cream

3 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons light corn syrup

4 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped

1 tablespoon instant espresso powder

2 ounces white chocolate, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat 8 small (1-cup capacity) aluminum foil tartlet pans with nonstick cooking spray. Make the crusts by placing cookies in a food processor or blender to grind to coarse crumbs. Transfer to large mixing bowl. Finely chop almonds in food processor or by hand. Add to crumbs in bowl. Pour melted butter over all and mix well. Press the mixture over the bottom and up the sides of the prepared pans. Place the pans on a large baking sheet for ease in handling. Bake crusts in preheated oven for 8 minutes. Cool. Maintain oven temperature.

To make the filling, heat ¼ cup heavy whipping cream to almost boiling in a small saucepan or in a glass bowl in a microwave oven. Add 2 teaspoons instant espresso powder and stir to dissolve. Pour into a bowl so it will cool faster. Using an electric hand or stand mixer, beat cream cheese in a large bowl until smooth. Gradually beat in 1 cup sugar. Add salt and vanilla and blend well. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add espresso mixture and blend well. Pour the cream cheese mixture into the prepared crusts, dividing equally among them. Bake the cakes for 25 to 30 minutes, until the filling is just set. Cool for 20 minutes before topping with chocolate.

Prepare the topping. In a small heavy saucepan, combine ¼ cup heavy whipping cream, butter and corn syrup and bring to a low boil, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and add chocolate and espresso

powder and stir until melted. Pour over each cheesecake and carefully spread the topping with the back of a spoon to cover filling completely. Spoon melted white chocolate into pastry bag fitted with small tip or a plastic bag with a tiny hole cut from one corner. Pipe in parallel vertical lines over topping, spacing evenly. With a toothpick, drag the lines to form a decorative pattern in the chocolate. Refrigerate the cheesecakes for at least 4 hours or up to 3

days.

At serving time, press up on the bottom of the tart pans to release the cheesecakes. Serve chilled.

Tips from the cook

- If you can’t find instant espresso powder in your local grocery store, make your own by grinding regular instant coffee crystals to a fine powder in a coffee grinder or blender.

- Use premium chocolate in the ganache topping for the best flavor. And remember, true white chocolate contains cocoa butter. Check the ingredient list on the package.


Sue Doeden is a food writer and photographer from Bemidji, Minn., and a former Fargo resident. Her columns are published in 10 Forum Communications newspapers. Readers can reach Doeden at food@forumcomm.com

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