Happy December! I always wondered what Christmastime in a tropical climate was like. Wondered if people decorated their palm trees with C-9 bulbs and tinsel garland while wearing flip flops and tank tops, stopping to take a break to beat the heat with an icy beverage. Then I realized that 2012 would be the year that I got to experience that, only I'm still in Texas! This weather is so strange. It was 80 degrees today and does not feel the least bit like winter. I had lunch with a friend today (hi L!) and went to pick up Hayden at my mom's house, only to find him wearing nothing but a diaper helping Grandma stick candy canes in the ground. It was a sweet image, but nekkid babies playing outside in December??? It's unreal!
Needless to say, I have yet to start my holiday baking. There has not been a single cookie to grace my Silpat lined sheets but I will get there. In the meantime, I hope you'll enjoy this recipe for Brownie Latte Cheesecake. I made it last month as part of the Cake Slice Bakers and it was delicious. Cheesecake is holiday-ish, right? It probably won't be a part of any cookie trays this year but sometimes you need a nice centerpiece dessert and this is it.
Instead of a typical cookie crumb crust, this cheesecake has a thick, dense, fudgy, chocolate rich base. In contrast, the filling is ultra creamy and light in texture. The flavors of chocolate, espresso, vanilla, and Kahlua compliment each other so well. This is definitely one for sharing and a little sliver goes a long way but that's what makes it ideal for holiday gatherings and celebrations, that and it can be made a couple days in advance. I'll get my act together, paint the windows with a can of fake snow and flip the switch on my fireplace to get me in the butter baking mood. If y'all have any great holiday cookie recipes for me, please share!
Brownie Latte Cheesecake adapted from The Cake Book
For The Brownie Layer:
- 4 oz. semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
- 1 Tablespoon instant espresso powder
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
For The Latte Filling:
- 1 1/2 pounds (24 oz.) cream cheese, softened
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons espresso powder, dissolved in 1 Tablespoon hot water
- 2 Tablespoons Kahlua
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
- 4 large eggs
To make The Brownie Layer: Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly grease the bottom and sides of a 9x3-inch springform pan. Cut an 18-inch square of heavy duty aluminum foil and wrap around the outside of the pan.
In the top of a double boiler, melt the chocolate with the butter over barely simmering water, stirring occasionally. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl and stir in the espresso powder, vanilla extract and salt. Whisk in the sugar until combined. Whisk in the eggs one at a time, until blended. Stir in the flour until no traces remain.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth it into an even layer. Bake the brownie for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached to it. Place the pan on a wire rack and let cool while you make the filling. Leave the oven on.
To Make The Latte Filling: In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese at medium-low speed until creamy and smooth, about 2 minutes. Gradually add the sugar and beat until blended. Add the vanilla extract, espresso mixture, Kahlua, salt, sour cream and cornstarch and mix until well blended. At low speed, add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.
Scrape the batter onto the brownie layer and smooth the top. Place the springform pan in a roasting pan or a large baking pan. Pour enough hot water into the roasting pan to come about 1 inch up the sides of the springform pan. Bake the cake in the water bath for 70-80 minutes, until the center is set but slightly wobbly (the cheesecake will continue to set up as it cools). Turn the heat off and crack the door, allowing the cake to cool in the oven for about 30 minutes. Remove the cake from the water bath and place on a rack and cool to room temperature.
Refrigerate the cheesecake for at least 4 hours or overnight before serving.