Coffee Cheesecake with Raspberry-Sourcream Swirl

My first order of business when I returned home for spring break was to bake a birthday cake for my dad, since I missed his 50th a few weeks earlier. One morning, before heading out to see a Brain Exhibit at the Natural History Museum, we sat down to seriously discuss his birthday dessert.



We started with the basics. First, we had to figure out what type of dessert he wanted: A pie or tart? A traditional cake? A creamy dessert like flan, creme brulee, or cheesecake? My dad said he liked the idea of something creamy, like Vietnamese Coffee Creme Brulee I had made. Unfortunately my ramekins were still at college so I nixed that idea, and we decided on a cheesecake. Next, we brainstormed flavors. We ruled out chocolate. (Apparently, eating chocolate gives him zits, but this is all extremely theoretical since nobody has ever glimpsed said acne). We toyed with citrusy flavors, like lemon curd or coconut lime, but in the end we ended up where we started, with coffee. Because cheesecake is super sweet, we decided to add a tart raspberry syrup to balance the rich coffee flavor.

My mom was laughing at our conversation, but seriously, choosing the perfect birthday dessert is crucial.

My dad was excited to use his brand new iPad to search some of my favorite blogs for cheescake recipes. We found a recipe for a mouthwatering Cappuccino Fudge Cheesecake on Smitten Kitchen, and decided to appropriate the recipes for the coffee filling and the sour cream topping. Browsing Not So Humble Pie, we discovered a recipe for Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake, and used that recipe for the crust and tart raspberry sauce.

The cheesecake cooked longer than expected, which was unusual since my oven is relatively hot and there were a lot of cracks in the top, but it firmed up as I let it cool, and I filled in the cracks with the sour cream topping. In Not So Humble Pie’s original Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake, the raspberry is swirled directly into the cheesecake, rather than into a layer of sweetened sour cream (sweet n’ sour cream!). The swirl was a beautiful intense red at first, but over the course of a few days in the fridge the swirl faded to light pink and the sour cream sunk into the cracks in the cake. But, as Deb of Smitten Kitchen says, two days in the refrigerator gave the flavors “time to settle,” and the cake was absolutely delicious. Raspberry sauce was the perfect tangy complement to the creamy coffee cheesecake, and the cinnamon graham crackers we had in the cupboard worked out really well.

In fact, the cheesecake was so good that once the five of us ate half of it, my dad had to give away the rest to the neighbors so we wouldn’t be tempted to finish it off!

Coffee Cheesecake with Rasberry-Sourcream Swirl

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen (adapted from Bon Appétit, February 2002) and Not So Humble Pie (adapted from Martha Stewart Living May 2004)


1 cup (5oz) finely ground graham crackers
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons granulated sugar

4 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/3 cups sugar
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 tablespoons dark rum
1 tablespoons instant espresso powder or coffee crystals
3 tablespoons finely ground whole espresso coffee beans (I used decaf)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons molasses (Bon Appétit suggested light, I used dark)
4 large eggs

1 1/2 cups sour cream
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Raspberry Sauce
6 ounces (1 1/2 cups) raspberries
2 tablespoons sugar

Combine the graham crackers, 2 tablespoons sugar and the melted butter in a large bowl and mix. Firmly press the crumbs into the bottom of your spring form pan.

Bake the crust until set, roughly 10 minutes and then allow it to cool on a wire rack.

Purée the raspberries and then strain out the seeds and any solids. Add 2 tablespoons of sugar to the strained puree. Pour into a small sauce pan and bring the raspberry sauce to a bare simmer over medium low heat. Reduce the sauce for 1-2 minutes until it has thickened slightly and then set aside to cool.

Position rack in middle of oven and preheat to 350°F. Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar in large bowl until blended. Scrape down bowl, making sure you get to the bottom, where little pockets of unmixed cream cheese love to hide. Beat in flour. Stir rum, espresso powder, ground coffee, vanilla, and molasses in small bowl until instant coffee dissolves; beat into cream cheese mixture. Beat in eggs one at a time, scraping down sides of bowl between each addition.

Pour filling into the crust. Place cheesecake on rimmed baking sheet. Bake until top is brown, puffed and cracked at edges, and the center two inches moves only slightly when pan is gently shaken, about one hour. Transfer cheesecake to rack. Cool 15 minutes while preparing topping (top of cheesecake will fall slightly, making room for topping). Maintain oven temperature.

Whisk sour cream, sugar, and vanilla in medium bowl to blend. Pour topping over hot cheesecake, spreading to cover filling completely. Dot the sour cream topping with drops of the raspberry sauce and with a knife or wooden skewer, swirl the surface of the batter to create the marbled effect. Reserve the remaining sauce for garnishing later. Bake until topping is set, about 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer cheesecake to rack. Refrigerate hot cheesecake on rack until cool, about three hours.
Run small sharp knife between crust and pan sides to loosen cake; release pan sides. Transfer cheesecake to platter.

Serve with extra raspberry sauce. To store, wrap in aluminum foil and keep refrigerated for up to four days.


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