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daring bakers: cheesecake

Recipe: cheesecake

We prepped a late dinner Sunday evening. As Jeremy opened the door to the deck to get the grill going, we noticed a nice little layer of snow everywhere. [I realize I talk about the weather a lot. It’s not because I’m trying to be polite, it’s because I am a bit of a weather dork.] Just a few hours earlier we were in Boulder, enjoying these:

tulips on pearl street

April is like that around here. Can’t make up its mind about the seasons. That’s sort of how I felt about this month’s Daring Bakers challenge… I couldn’t make up my mind about the flavor – so I did both.

daring bakers, baybeee – we knead to bake!

The official line: The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey’s Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge. The unofficial line is that Jenny rocks it along with our Superstahhh founders, Lis of La Mia Cucina and Ivonne of Cream Puffs in Venice. I heart them all.

Ah yes, cheesecake. I always think that I like cheesecake until I take a bite and then it becomes clear that cheesecake and I are just friends, not lovers. I can appreciate a good, smooth, creamy, rich cheesecake, but I can’t see us dating, you know? That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy baking a stellar cheesecake and serving it to people who deserve the love.

crusts in ring molds: graham cracker and chocolate cookie

In my pantry is a bin full of baking pans including a dozen 4-inch springform pans. Those springforms are shalloooooow. I guess my idea of cheesecake is something tall that your fork has to travel through to get a bite. I gave my 2-inch and 3-inch ring molds a try – that’s what the Daring Bakers are for, right? Since the ring molds don’t have bottoms, I double wrapped the bases in foil and then pressed the crusts down with a shot glass. Making two flavors involved two types of crusts: the traditional graham cracker crust and then a crust made from crushed chocolate cookies (Trader Joe’s Joe-Joe cookies with the creamy middle scraped off).

chopped dark chocolate



I settled on chocolate-espresso cheesecakes and strawberry swirl cheesecakes. Chocolate-espresso because I knew Jeremy would actually eat them and strawberry swirl because I had a lot of strawberries in the refrigerator. For each batch I made a third of the given recipe. Each third would yield enough for two 2-inch molds and three 3-inch molds.

add melted chocolate, espresso, and kahlua to the base batter

purée the strawberries

If you decide to use ring molds, make sure the foil is not only tightly wrapped around the base, but that it won’t leak water when you bake it in a water bath. So no seams lower than half-way down the mold or else you might cry like a big baby. I filled my ring molds nearly full and had no problems with overflow.

pour the batter into the molds

swirl strawberry purée onto the tops with a toothpick

My greatest fear was that the cheesecakes wouldn’t unmold well and I’d wind up with what looked like cheesecake vomit on a plate. What I should have been worrying about was that hole in my ovenmitt I had neglected for several months. It came back to bite me in the ass… or rather, on my finger because I grabbed the oven rack with my bare finger which made the whole experience a lot more daring than usual. Aside from that, they unmolded beautifully (with some careful coaxing) and wound up with a most delicate, creamy texture – both flavors! I don’t like those crumbly cheesecakes (overbaked!) – waterbath is the way to go. Seriously. Jeremy, who also maintains a platonic relationship with cheesecake, said this was fantastic. My betties loved the cheesecakes. I even took TWO bites this time. Awesome recipe. Thanks Jenny. It’s going into the arsenal.

chocolate-espresso cheesecake (2-inch)

strawberry-swirl with mango and strawberry (3-inch)

Abbey’s Infamous Cheesecake
[print recipe]

2 cups / 180g graham cracker crumbs (or crushed chocolate cookies from Oreos or Joe-Joes w/o filling for chocolate-espresso version)
4 oz. butter, melted
2 tbsps / 24g sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

plain cheesecake
24 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup / 210g sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup / 8 oz. heavy cream
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp vanilla extract (or the innards of a vanilla bean)
1 tbsp liqueur, optional, but choose what will work well with your cheesecake

strawberry swirl cheesecake
24 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup / 210g sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup / 8 oz. heavy cream
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp vanilla extract (or the innards of a vanilla bean)
1 tbsp Grand Marnier
1 cup strawberries, puréed
2 tbsps sugar

chocolate espresso cheesecake
24 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup / 210g sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup / 8 oz. heavy cream
4.5 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, melted
1 tbsp espresso powder
1 tbsp boiling water
1 tbsp vanilla extract (or the innards of a vanilla bean)
1 tbsp Kahlua or coffee liqueur

Preheat oven to 350°F. Begin to boil a large pot of water for the water bath. Mix together the crust ingredients and press into your preferred pan. You can press the crust just into the bottom, or up the sides of the pan too – baker’s choice. [Jen’s note: if using ring molds, tightly wrap double layer of foil around base making sure no seams in foil below the halfway mark or you might spring a leak in the water bath.] Set crust aside. Combine cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of a stand-mixer (or in a large bowl if using a hand-mixer) and cream together until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Make sure to scrape down the bowl in between each egg. Add heavy cream, vanilla, lemon juice, and alcohol and blend until smooth and creamy. [For chocolate-espresso: combine boiling water with espresso powder. Add cream, chocolate, espresso, vanilla, and Kahlua to the cream cheese batter and mix until smooth and creamy.]

Pour batter into prepared crust and tap the pan on the counter a few times to bring all air bubbles to the surface. [For strawberry swirl: mix the sugar and the strawberry purée together then top the cheesecake batter with the mixture and create the swirl design by running a toothpick through the surface.] Place pan into a larger pan and pour boiling water into the larger pan until halfway up the side of the cheesecake pan. If cheesecake pan is not airtight, cover bottom securely with foil before adding water. Bake 45 to 55 minutes [25 minutes if using 2- and 3-inch ring molds], until it is almost done – this can be hard to judge, but you’re looking for the cake to hold together, but still have a lot of jiggle to it in the center. You don’t want it to be completely firm at this stage. Close the oven door, turn the heat off, and let rest in the cooling oven for one hour. This lets the cake finish cooking and cool down gently enough so that it won’t crack on the top. After one hour [30 minutes for small ring molds], remove cheesecake from oven and lift carefully out of water bath. Let it finish cooling on the counter, and then cover and put in the fridge to chill. Once fully chilled, unmold and serve.

106 nibbles at “daring bakers: cheesecake”

  1. SimplePleasure says:

    Hey, Jen! Looks amazing. I specially like the strawberry-swirl with mango and strawberry, looks so summery and very refreshing.

    Better throw way those oven mitts or mend them soon.

  2. Andrew Hyde says:

    Wow, these look amazing.

    Love the depth of field in your photos!

  3. Kitt says:

    Awesome cheesecakes! Nom nom nom. The chocolate, especially.

    How clever to use the ring molds that way. I agree, small and tall is best.

  4. Elissa says:

    Those are both so pretty! The shot with the swirled strawberry is probably my favorite… or the completed shot of the chocolate one! I love your choice of size. They’re so cute!

  5. Rosa says:

    Fantastic! Your cheesecakes look perfect and so tempting! I love your choice of flavors.



  6. Audax Artifex says:

    chocolate-espresso cheesecakes and strawberry swirl cheesecakes and a burnt finger – great effort on this challenge. You do beautiful photos very clear and lavish colours. All I can say is yum yum yum.

  7. barbara says:

    Impressive Jen. Love the choccy one.

  8. Lisa says:

    I too was wondering how you were going to get them out without serious gouging or knifing… WELL DONE JEN! I see no parchment – did you butter the sides of the rings like crazy or what?

    Lookin’ great as usual!

  9. Kathy says:

    Both of these look absolutetly delicious. I love a creamy moist cheesecake. It looks like you’ve done it again!

  10. bucatar maniac says:

    great pictures!

  11. Andrea says:

    I would seriously have trouble deciding which to try first. Both flavor combinations look delicious!

  12. LizzieBee says:

    Man, I’ve been harbouring a cheesecake craving for MONTHS, and these pictures just make me want to have one RIght Now! Nom Nom Nom!!!!

    (BTW: I, too, am a total weather nut. We’ve been thrust into winter early this year, with the temperature going below 10C for the last two days, which is Very Cold, where we are. It’s been snowing on the local mountain as well, which peaks around 1000mts (we’re at 500mts), which isn’t very high. However there’s been good first-falls on the ski fields on the other side of the state too. COLD! Freezing! Got out my winter windproof fleece to wear! LOL)

  13. Ciaochowlinda says:

    Be still my heart. Which one to choose, which one to choose. You’re killin’ me they look so fantastic!

  14. Megan says:

    Thanks for showing how you made those beautiful little shapes. I love how they look. I’ll be doing some more experimenting with this delicious, little cheesecake.

  15. Amy says:

    Beeee-youtiful! I do love a mini cheesecake, so much nicer than a big slab. Great flavor combos and great idea to use the ring molds.

  16. Tartelette says:

    They turned out gorgeous Love the espresso chocolate! Bummer about the finger but it’s a good thing it did not stop you from Twitting this week :) I love the strawberry and mango decoration on the strawberry cheesecake. Perfect touch of color!

  17. Tonic says:

    Amazing photos, and beautiful presentation!!

  18. Pearl says:

    oh my gosh – these look like they’re purchased from a restaurant! a really fancy restaurant :) or more like a dessert place like extraordinary desserts!

  19. Teanna says:

    Absolutely stunning presentation. 5 star restaurant quality presentation. Gorgeous!

  20. marye says:

    they look gorgeous! I like the look of the small ones.

  21. Phoo-D says:

    I’m right there with you on cheesecake. However your creations are beautiful and would tempt me into happily devouring a slice!

  22. jo says:

    Absolutely gorgeous and I’m dying to taste some. Great pics and presentation as always.

  23. Lori says:

    It’s a beautiful thing. Lovely, Jenyu.

  24. Memoria says:

    *sigh* Your photos always look so lovely. I aspire to produce such photos one day, especially after my mom gives me a new camera for Xmas haha. The chocolate-espresso cheesecake looks divine!

  25. Samira says:

    lovely, I love mini foods, and cheesecake vomit hehehe ur so funny

  26. Kirsa says:

    even tought I have probably less than a platonic relationship with the cheesecake, those still look amazing and very… light. most likely until I dig into it and remember it’s made of… cheese.

    good work again here !

  27. Jenny Tan says:

    Oooohhhh….soo beautiful!! Love the flavors and love the presentation! If I could only dive into the screen! :P

  28. Delaney says:

    God, Jen, you are hilarious, scraping the insides out of Jo-Jos. What did you do with the de-scraped filling? I completely understand your apathy about cheesecakes but your willingness to tackle something (absurdly) complex. These look gorgeous! And I’m sorry you burned your finger… You need some new oven mitts?

  29. Jennifer @ maplencornbread says:

    I’ll take both!! :) beautiful!!!!!!!!

  30. Alev says:

    Sooo delicious. I’ll take chocolate-espresso pleaseeeee….

  31. Kendra says:

    Yours looks absolutely fantastic for your DB challenge! I attempted to make mini-cheesecakes, but even with a bunch of foil the water did seep through. Going to try again though :) May just have to give the chocolate espresso one a try since I do have everything on hand ^_^

  32. sara says:

    YUM, looks amazing! I love both flavors, and the strawberry swirl looks especially tempting!

  33. Hannah says:

    Both types look absolutely perfect… And that marbling on the strawberry cake is just gorgeous!

  34. charlane says:

    sheer heaven

  35. tz.missjane says:

    As usual, stellar job in both pictures and storyline. Sorry that you burned your finger! I concur with the notion of just being friends with cheesecake. A couple of bites is sufficient for me and these look like they are just about the right size.

  36. ROSE says:

    Just stunning as always!! Those are gorgeous!!

  37. Madeleine says:

    Beatiful cheesecakes! :)

  38. Valérie says:

    Hi, new reader here (and new Daring Baker)!

    Those cheesecakes are perfection! Way to go!

  39. ina says:

    Gorgeous pictures! Your cheesecakes looks yummi!

  40. Meeta says:

    i’ll take two of each please. i am going to miss this space – but will be back to see if you are doing these challenges as beautifully as always! hugs to you cutie!

  41. Lisa says:

    Simply perfect and beautiful, Jen – not to mention delicious flavors. Oh, and as I’ve said before, your photography is breathtaking!

  42. linda says:

    Love the flavours you used and love the ultra high cheesecakelets

  43. Dana says:

    I mean really. Really?? Those look more professional than most professionals. I am not a cheesecake fan either but would throw caution to the wind for multiple bites of either of these. And now I know I need to get some ring molds – love the height of those cakes.

  44. breadchick says:

    I’ll take one of each!

  45. cindy says:

    they both look fantastic…and those tulips are unreal!

  46. Margie says:


  47. sunita says:

    Wonderful flavours and such pretty cheesecakes :-)

  48. Coffee and Vanilla says:

    Beautiful and delicious! I’m sooo craving now for cheesecake….

  49. Kristin says:

    Both cheesecakes look delicious, but I think I’ll take that melted chocolate, espresso & Kahlua drizzled over some ice cream instead. Looks so good!

  50. Laura says:

    Both gorgeous! I have to try the chocolate recipe, it sounds devine!

  51. Brittany says:

    look amazing! the chocolate one looks just nuts…I’m a bit afraid to make cheesecake, but i may have to try!

  52. Y says:

    Breathtaking! The chocolate espresso ‘cake would’ve been my pick, but I must admit, seeing the swirled strawberry puree in the other one made me wish we were heading into Spring here.

    Has the oven mitt been retired yet? :)

  53. Gretchen Noelle says:

    Goodness, I adore that chocolate, espresso one. Gorgeous!

  54. Caitlin says:

    Gah – chocolate espresso? I waaaaant it. Especially when it’s 2 inches in diameter and oh-so-cute. Man am I a sucker for mini things or what?

  55. Ivonne says:

    They’re soooooooo cute!!! So cute!!! I just want to snuggle with them … by snuggle I mean eat.

  56. Michelle says:

    OMG I’m hungry! These are spectacular!!

  57. MyKitchenInHalfCups says:

    I feel myself swirling in and endless loop: espresso chocolate, strawberry swirl, espresso chocolate, strawberry swirl, espresso chocolate, strawberry swirl . . .
    Better just send me two of each please.

  58. Elizabeth says:

    Wow, those look great and I’m sure tasted great!

  59. Rina says:

    Gorgeous, as always!!! Love your photography.

  60. Molly says:

    Awesome little cheesecakes!

  61. Friedl says:

    The cheesecakes look delicious !

  62. Pomme says:

    Maybe it’s because it’s nearly lunchtime for me, or maybe I’m just such a sweet tooth… the pics are so beautiful I nearly cried! Needless to say, I’ll have to try them (thanks for the toothpick trick)!!

  63. Asianmommy says:

    How cute! Love these little cakes.

  64. Sylvia says:

    My mouth is watering right now …shame on me … :)
    The espresso cheesecake with Kalua drives me crazy. Loos delicious

  65. Kate says:

    Those are beautiful! Mine didn’t unmold well, and although it wasn’t quite to the level of cheesecake vomit it did NOT look like a magazine ad. I think mine was a little underbaked. It tasted divine though — great cheesecake!

  66. lili - pikelet & pie says:

    They look divine, the most perfect little individual cheesecakes I’ve seen yet :)

  67. Fiona says:

    lovely! But seriously, how do you get the cheesecakes out of the ring mold? Every time I’ve tried, I use a small knife and the sides look terrible!

  68. Mary says:

    Haha, people are such suckers for dessert. More comments on this than on the shrimp wontons?! I’d eat the wontons 10 times before the cheesecake….and they looked irresistible… though I do think both look absolutely increrdible…

  69. Sue says:

    LOVE the mini cheesecakes!!! SO cute!

  70. Maria says:

    One word, WOW!!!!!

  71. courtney says:

    Outstanding. Love how you formed these.

  72. JessW says:

    Those are adorable, they make me wish I liked cheesecake more just for the pleasure of having them! BTW, try some lavender essential oil on those burns, it’s amazing stuff~

  73. Tracy says:

    As always, your photos and your desserts are life changing. I think you just published cheesecake p*rn.

  74. Eat. Travel. Eat! says:

    These are simply beautiful. Great photos. I especially like the strawberry swirl, with the artsy looking swirl on top, along with the beautifully cut fruit and the puree.

  75. clumbsycookie says:

    And now wich one to chose?! The picture of the melted chocolate going into the batter made my knees weak. Do you deliver to Portugal? One of each for me please!

  76. Mollie says:

    Those are the cutest little cheesecakes in the entire world!

  77. SallyBR says:

    Gorgeous….. I don’t even like cheesecake, but the strawberry swirl is impossible to resist

    just a clarification, when you say it is enough for two 4-inch rings AND three 3-inch rings I think you mean “OR”, correct?

  78. steph (whisk/spoon) says:

    they are so pretty! i would love one (or maybe two) of the chocolate-espresso ones!

  79. Rebecca says:

    This looks amazing–beautiful photos!! And I love cheesecake, so can’t wait to make this one!!

  80. Holly says:

    Beautiful, as usual. I love the minis – I’m definitely going to try that next time!

  81. Mrs Ergül says:

    Gorgeous works of art! I am getting to mine tomorrow…. I like your improvised mini pans! They all look so gooddddddddddd

  82. JennyBakes says:

    I have to admit, cheesecake and I are more friends than lovers too. But I thought the Daring Bakers could really take it and run with it, and you certainly did! I really love the variety in sizes and flavors. And I’m not the first to say your photography is beautiful – very vibrant, almost like a dream of baking cheesecake. Thanks so much for participating in this month’s challenge!

  83. asti says:

    your photos are always breathtaking! The cheesecakes are both to die for! Very well done

  84. C McCoffee says:

    first off, I have to say that I used to live near Boulder so I appreciate that. And second, this is a really great recipe, and I’m happy to find more ways to use espresso in my cooking!

  85. Nikki says:

    Wow, these look amazing!!

  86. jenyu says:

    Thanks everyone for your wonderfully sweet and kind comments! This cheesecake is THE BOMB! Yum. And yes, I sewed up the oven mitt and it is good as new :)

    Andrew – lovely to see you here. Let’s do lunch again sometime.

    Lisa – Believe it or not, I just let those buggers cool completely and refrigerated so the cheesecake was pretty stiff. Then I loosened the crust with a thin knife and gently pushed the cheesecakes out! Luckily no disasters :)

    Tartelette – oh, if you’re twittering, then I’m right there! hee hee.

    Delaney – well, don’t hate me, but I threw them out. I can’t eat that filling – plegh. If Jeremy had been home, he would have eaten them (if I let him). No need for new oven mitties! I fixed them :) I love fixing things rather than throwing them out… hate waste :)

    Y – the oven mitt has a new lease on life! :) I patched it up like new.

    Fiona – they have to be cooled to room temp, then refrigerated in the ring molds. When the cake is SOLID, then I loosen the crust with a thin knife. Once the cheesecake starts turning in the mold, then I push the whole thing out. Seemed to work :)

    JessW – thanks for that tip!

    SallyBR – nope, it’s 2 two-inch rings AND 3 three-inch rings. If you calculate the volume, it makes sense.

    Jenny – thank you for hosting!! :) Great choice.

  87. SallyBR says:

    Thanks for the clarification – I should have calculated the volume but was too lazy :-)

    I think I’ll give this recipe a try making only half the recipe as it’s just me and hubby.

  88. Lindsey says:

    I WANT your mini springform pans! I used silicon muffin tins, and mine weren’t nearly as cute, or deep. My husband would probably kill me if I came home with more baking related gadgets.

  89. Poires au Chocolat says:

    Really lovely. I like the chocolate cookie/oreo base for the expresso one, it looks so striking and I bet it tasted wonderful!

  90. Marisa says:

    I love love love your blog!

    Have been reading it for quite some time, but always as a lurker, but decided I should be more vocal about my appreciation.

    Thanks for inspiring me with your writing & mouth-watering photos.

  91. ana says:

    Just one question…when do I put the small cheescakes out….before I put them in to the fridge? (after 30 min in the oven, I lift them up from the water bath, then let them cool in the counter….and then….put them out..??)
    Thank you. ;)

  92. jenyu says:

    Ana – after it has been in the refrigerator. if you try to unmold before you let it chill, you will have a mess.

  93. ana says:


  94. Dan - Cheesecake Recipes says:

    I just came across your website, very cool. This is an amazing looking cheesecake, I hope to have time later this week to bake it! Do you know of a healthier alternative to using regular cream cheese?

  95. jenyu says:

    Dan – Healthier?! That’s hard to say. I don’t. Sorry.

  96. Renae says:

    Hi there! Strawberry cheesecake is on the menu this week for my sons birthday and this recipe won hands down on a “I have GOT to make this!!!” scale! If you could tell me which size spring form pan would work best for this it would be much appreciated! 8″, 9″ or 10″? Thanks for posting this great looking cheesecake!

  97. jenyu says:

    Renae – Oooh, I’m so sorry I didn’t get to this earlier as I’ve been on travel on a shoot. Let’s see, I believe a 9″ pan was the standard for this recipe. I hope you managed a great cake for his birthday :)

  98. Melissa - Dirt Cake Recipe says:

    This recipes looks amazing. I can’t wait to bake it this friday during my weekly bake night!

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  100. Rebecca says:

    These are gorgeous. Can’t wait to these recipes out!

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  104. ec says:

    this is stunning!!!!

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