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Carla's Cheesecake Delight

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Carla’s Cheesecake Delight
  • Carla’s Cheesecake Delight

Ingredients

Crust:

8 graham crackers, finely crushed

½ c. finely chopped pecans

c. sugar

6 tbsp. butter, melted

Ganache:

1½ c. heavy whipping cream

20 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, chopped

c. Kahlúa or other coffee-flavored liqueur

Filling:

2 lbs. cream cheese, room temperature

1²/³ c. sugar

5 eggs, room temperature

1 c. Irish cream

1½ tbsp. instant espresso powder or coffee crystals

1 tbsp. vanilla extract

1 c. semi-sweet mini chocolate chips

Topping:

1½ c. sour cream

¹/³ c. sugar

2 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions

For crust:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Finely grind crackers, pecans and sugar in a food processor. Add butter and blend until crumbs begin to stick together, scraping down bowl occasionally. This should take about a minute. Put the crumbs into a 10-inch springform pan with 3-inch-high sides, lightly coated in a non-stick spray. Use gloves or plastic wrap around fingers and press crumb mixture firmly up sides to within a half-inch of the top edge, then over the bottom of the pan. Bake crust for 7 to 10 minutes.

For ganache:

While crust is baking, bring cream to simmer in large saucepan. Remove from heat and add chocolate and Kahlúa. Whisk until chocolate is melted and ganache is smooth. Pour 2 cups of the ganache over the bottom of the crust. Freeze until ganache layer is firm, about 30 minutes. Hang on to the remaining ganache; cover and let stand at room temperature to use for decorating later.

For filling:

Position rack in the middle of oven and turn oven down to 325 degrees. In a mixer, beat cream cheese until smooth, and gradually beat in sugar. Then add 1 egg at a time. Scrape down bowl and make sure you get to the bottom. Blend in Irish Cream, espresso and vanilla. Scrape the bowl again, then fold in chocolate chips. Pour filling into springform pan. The filling may go close to the top of pan, but don't worry.

Place springform pan onto a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes or until puffed and springy in center and golden brown. Edges may crack, but this is normal. Cool for 15 minutes while making the topping. The top of the cheesecake will fall slightly, which makes room for the topping. Maintain oven temp.

For topping:

Whisk sour cream, sugar and vanilla in a small bowl and blend. Pour topping over hot cheesecake, spreading to cover the filling completely. Bake 10 to 15 more minutes or until topping is set. Transfer to wire rack and refrigerate until cool, about 3 hours.

Plating:

Run a small, sharp knife between crust and pan sides to loosen cake; release pan sides. Transfer cheesecake to platter. Spoon reserved ganache into a pastry bag fitted with a small star tip. Pipe 6 diagonal lines atop cheesecake, spacing 1 inch apart. Repeat in opposite direction, making lattice.

Want to dress it up? Place a chocolate-covered coffee bean at each cross on the lattice.

This cheesecake is great right away, but for the best flavor, let it rest overnight. Makes 16 servings, but this is so rich, you may want to cut smaller portions. You can also make this cheesecake with an Oreo cookie crust by substituting 2 cups of Oreo cookie crumbs in place of the graham crackers.

Aftertaste

I've always been a sucker for a good cheesecake, and about 15 years ago, I stumbled across this recipe for an Irish Cream Cheesecake. Using family members as guinea pigs, I've tweaked and perfected it, and they've never complained. Once I had access to fresh espresso from our coffee shop, this recipe took on a whole new meaning. Again, nobody at the coffee shop was complaining when I "forced" this new recipe onto them. The only response I get from this is, "When are you making it again?"

To me, rich, decadent and flavorful are must-have qualities for a comfort food, and this cheesecake definitely fits that description.

— Submitted by R R Coffee Café executive chef Carla Erick

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