After a few months of being away on self-proclaimed maternity leave, I bring to you a brownie cheesecake intensified with espresso and finished with a rich dark chocolate ganache and toasted hazelnuts. This recipe is a continuation of my flourless olive oil and dark chocolate torte recipe from the archives. The addition of a smooth cheesecake layer is perfect for those moments that call for special indulgences. I can attest to that as this was the first dessert I made just a week after giving birth to my first baby in July. It is, indeed, the ultimate celebration cake. And it also happens to be deceptively easy to make. I hope you enjoy it as much as my family and I do.
200 gr./ 7 oz. 70 percent dark chocolate (chopped) or semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted or extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon espresso powder
1 package (226 gr./ 8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1 cup sour cream
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Chocolate Ganache Topping
100 gr./ 3.5 oz. 70 percent dark chocolate, finely chopped
1/4 cup/ 59 gr. heavy cream
1/4 cup/ 59 gr. sweetened condensed milk
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Crushed toasted hazelnuts
Preheat oven to 180C/350F and grease a round 9 inch springform pan with butter and line the bottom with parchment paper. In a saucepan over low heat, combine the chocolate and butter and stir just until melted. Remove from heat and leave to cool for a few minutes. Whisk the sugar and vanilla extract into the melted chocolate and then stir in the eggs, one at a time. Sift in the salt, cocoa powder, and espresso powder and mix just until combined. Spoon the silky batter into your greased cake tin and bake for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Reduce oven heat to 160C/350F.
While the brownie base is baking, prepare your cheesecake layer. Using a stand or hand mixer, mix the cream cheese over medium speed for about 2 minutes or until smooth. Add the sour cream and mix for a few additional minutes or until well combined and free of lumps. Mix in the eggs, one at a time, and add the sugar and vanilla. Mix just until well incorporated. You should have a smooth batter. When the brownie base is ready, pour the cream cheese mixture over the top. Put the pan back into the oven (at a reduced temperature of 160C/350F) and bake for 30 minutes. The cheesecake should be firm with a slight jiggle in the center. Leave to cool for 1 hour and let the cheesecake set in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight.
For the ganache topping, combine chopped chocolate, cream, condensed milk, and butter in a saucepan over low heat. Whisk the mixture continuously just until melted and quickly turn off the heat to prevent the ganache from becoming grainy. Leave to cool for a few minutes and then spoon on to the top of the cheesecake. Spread the ganache outwards from the center. Garnish with chopped or shaved chocolate, toasted hazelnuts, and/or cherry halves or fruit of your liking.