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I joined my brother and his family for their first trip to Italy recently as their unofficial tour guide. My first duty was to introduce them to one of the greatest food pleasures in Italy, a daily dose of gelato. Both my nieces’ favorite gelato flavor, hands down, was Tiramisu. The girls had included it in their daily gelato scoops. You might say I’m a bad influence, but there are so many worse habits you can have than needing a daily fix of gelato, right?
They were so in love with the Tiramisu gelato that they asked me if I could make a Tiramisu cheesecake when we got back to the U.S. Funny that they didn’t just ask me to make Tiramisu gelato for them. Cheesecake is one of my specialties, and one of their favorite desserts, so I didn’t think twice about their request. When one of my niece’s birthdays rolled around, I made her this cheesecake. It actually matched the creamy texture and flavor of the gelato very well; the cake is just a little denser. This could be the perfect Italian-American combination. The famous desserts of each country in one.
When making my take on the traditional Tiramisu dessert, I use rum, coffee, and a little melted chocolate for soaking the ladyfingers. In this recipe, I played with a few combinations of liquor and liqueur. When I used rum in the cheesecake, the rum flavor disappeared after it baked. All you could taste was coffee, and I didn’t want to make a coffee cheesecake, but a Tiramisu one. I prefer how the creamy Bailey’s and coffee-flavored Kahlua combine with the espresso powder. Neither flavor, liqueur or coffee, overshadowed the other, similar to the way those flavors are balanced in Tiramisu. If you want to know about the original Tiramisu recipe from Treviso, Monica makes a delicious one. (I’ve had it several times!)
(makes one 9-inch cake)
For the crust:
1 ½ cups ground graham crackers
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
6 tablespoons butter, melted
For the cheesecake:
2 1/2 pounds cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
3 egg yolks, at room temperature
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons Kahlua
1 tablespoon Bailey’s Irish Cream
4 teaspoons espresso coffee powder
1/4 cup chocolate shavings, for the garnish
Sweetened whipped cream, for the garnish
Preheat oven to 375ºF and butter the bottom of a 9-inch spring form pan Mix together the cookie crumbs, sugar and melted butter. Press into the spring form pan, going up the side of the pan only 1/4 inch. Bake 8 minutes. Cool completely for about 10-15 minutes.
Decrease oven temperature to 325ºF
In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, cream the cream cheese until it’s smooth. Add the sugar and mix together. Add
the eggs and yolks one at a time; mix each in before adding the next. Add the cornstarch and mix together. In a small bowl
combine the Kahlua, Bailey’s and coffee powder and stir until the coffee powder has dissolved. Add to the cream cheese
mixture and mix together.
Wrap two layers of aluminum foil around the sides of the spring form pan. Pour the cheesecake filling into the pan on top
of the cooled crust. Bake in a water bath for about 60 minutes. The outer edges should be set and the center will still
jiggle a little when you move it. (The cake continues cooking after it’s removed from the oven.) Cool for 30 minutes,
then remove the spring form rim. Cool completely, then place into the refrigerator for at least 8 hours, overnight is
Right before serving, sprinkle the grated chocolate over the cheesecake and serve with whipped cream. Buon Appetito!
Tips for making a perfectly creamy cheesecake:
1) Make sure your cream cheese is at room temperature
2) Cream the cream cheese and sugar together before adding any other ingredients, just until the mixture is smooth
3) Bake it in a water bath with aluminum foil tightly wrapped around the base
4) Don’t over bake; the edges will be set but the center will jiggle just a bit when it is ready to take out of the oven
4) Let rest a minimum of 12 hours in the refrigerator before serving and take out of the fridge 30 minutes before serving
To learn many of my baking secrets and tips & tricks for making Classic French pastries, please join me for a Pastry-Making Week in Provence