Double (GF) or Triple Chocolate Cheesecake

Looking for Thanksgiving? Try my THANKSGIVING, AN INTIMATE VIEW (Redux) or click “Thanksgiving” in the subject cloud for more info than you really wanted.

There really is a song, “If I Knew You Were Coming, I’d Have Baked a Cake,” and somewhere in my stacks, I even have the music for it. This chocolate cheesecake, which can be made gluten-free (Double Chocolate with a nut crust) or not (Triple Chocolate with a chocolate wafer cookie crust), is without a doubt the cake you’d bake were someone ultra-special about to knock on your door. The wonderful original recipe by well-known baker and writer Abigail Johnson Dodge (author of the fun new book SHEET CAKE) is one I found in FINE COOKING magazine — or on its website–a number of years ago. (The famous site is no longer available, more’s the pity, though another site does have the recipe. See TIPS below.) I’d make it for one person’s birthday and someone else would say, “Can I have that cake for my birthday?!” Or I’d carry it to a dinner party only for the host to pull me to the side and whisper in my ear, “I’d really love that recipe!” It’s just that kind of cake. Everyone craves it, especially chocolate lovers. Even fine fruit folk (my apple and cherry pie people) have been known to ask for an extra slice to take home.

Jump to Recipe

To look at this cake, you’d almost think it was a flourless chocolate cake and, in fact, if you choose the Double Chocolate (GF) version, it really is a flourless chocolate cake — it’s just a flourless cheesecake. Even the Triple Chocolate version has no flour except in the chocolate wafer cookies that make up its crust. Cheesecake, in general, is fairly gluten free or is easily made so by swapping in cornstarch for the flour in the cake batter and using a nut instead of a graham cracker crust.


THINKING PUMPKIN FOR THANKSGIVING???

Try my Pumpkin-Ginger Crunch Cheesecake, and if you need it GF, use the crust from my Peach Dream Cheesecake.


WHY DID I WORK ON WRITING THIS RECIPE???

For years, I’d bake Abby Dodge’s delicious chocolateness off my 8 1/2 x 11 copy of the FINE COOKING website version, but each time realized there was just something off about the recipe. Not about how it tasted or looked; it was pretty perfect as she’s one able baker. It was the way the recipe was written or maybe edited? With each baking, I had to read the recipe over and over, highlighting the many and varied steps that were all in one paragraph in the directions — or I’d get it wrong. I probably did get it wrong (hello, slowness!) in fact, but one day — when my host friend asked for the recipe — I could only find one page of two. HORRORS! Quickly, I clicked up the FINE COOKING site on my phone and jotted down the few things I was missing. I meant to go back in a day or so and print it, but before I could get to it, the website had disappeared!! I had no choice but to re-write it myself so he could easily bake it; he’d never make sense of my chicken scratch notes. And, the truth was, I needed it rewritten, too. (My apologies, Abby.) The resulting recipe is not all it could be and it’s a bit exhaustive with its myriad steps and so on (raise eyebrows about now), but you know where you are and don’t have to blink, looking back yet again and again. I can now follow it easily and, I think, so can my host-baker friend.

Math and I don’t really like one another.

At that point, I thought I was done with writing that chocolate cheesecake recipe. Lord. But then, a really close friend asked me to bake the cake for their birthday but with a GF crust. I’ve done that lots of times and had no trouble fusing recipes and adding a spicy nut crust to this cheesecake instead of the cookie one. Loved it like that! What I didn’t do was write a new recipe that included the GF crust. Now, there’s really no reason to do it because I don’t need it. But when I posted a photo of the cake on BAKE AND TELL (Dorie Greenspan’s merrymaking baking group on Facebook), the bakers there wanted the recipe. With the GF crust. I kind of gave them a few ideas with which to cobble it together, but promised I’d write it out. And then I remembered I not only needed to rewrite it, but had to add weights for the ingredients (instead of just volume measurements). So, for instance, instead of 1 1/2 cups pecans (the volume measurement), I also had to add (6 oz/170 grams) because so many people only bake by weight now. I’ll admit I still bake by volume (I’m such an American and not a very professional baker), but I certainly understand the need for weights in a world where most other countries use the latter system. And, of course, it’s more precise. This took me a little bit of time… … … Can you believe all this?

Apologies for the poor photograph, but it’s all I have.

And so here I finally am. I got it done (hope the math’s good) and instead of just posting the recipes at BAKE AND TELL, I thought I’d share them here. I can give those sweet bakers the link and let them do what they like, hoping they enjoy the trip to my blog. In the meantime, if you’re tired of your same old, same old Thanksgiving dinner dessert, you benefit (I HOPE!!) and can take everyone by surprise when you bake one (or both) of my chocolate cheesecakes. Yes, the recipes are a bit futsy (read carefully before beginning) and the cakes must be baked at least a day ahead — 2 or 3 is ok, but there’s nothing terribly difficult in the making. You could also do it way ahead and freeze it as cheesecake freezes well. If gluten-free isn’t something you absolutely need, don’t let that stop you making the gluten-free version with the nut crust if you’re a nutty person. There’s nothing else gluten-free-ish about the cake except its crust and I defo might like it best. I sure hope you’ll try this:

DOUBLE CHOCOLATE CHEESECAKE (Gluten-Free)

I bake and cool this perfectly luscious chocolate cheesecake in a bain marie (water bath) to prevent overbaking and to avoid cracks in the cake. It’s best to make the cake a day ahead as it needs to cool completely in the bain marie and then thoroughly chill and rest for several hours in the fridge. Read through entire recipe before beginning. There’s nothing difficult, but there are numerous steps. Whipped cream is a lovely accompaniment to this dessert. (Adapted from a recipe for Triple Chocolate Cheesecake by by Abigail Johnson Dodge/FINE COOKING MAGAZINE)
makes one (9-inch) cheesecake using a springform pan

Ingredients

CRUST:

  • 1 ½ cups (6 oz/170grams) pecans (can sub walnuts)
  • ¼ cup (2 oz/57 grams) granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon EACH ground ginger and cinnamon
  • 4 tablespoons (2 oz./57 grams) salted butter, melted

FILLING: SOUR CREAM MIXTURE

  • ½ cup (4 oz/113 grams) sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons (1/2 oz/ 14 grams vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons (.7 oz/20 grams) instant coffee or espresso powder

FILLING: MELTED CHOCOLATE

  • 8- ounces (227 oz) bittersweet chocolate

FILLING: CREAM CHEESE MIXTURE:

  • 3 (8 oz/681 grams) packages cream cheese at room temperature
  • ¼ teaspoon table salt
  • 3 tablespoons (1 1/2 oz/43 grams) cocoa powder, sifted if lumpy (plus extra for serving)
  • 1 ¼ cups (9 oz/255 grams) granulated sugar

FILLING: EGGS–3 large eggs at room temperature

    Instructions

    • HEAT WATER FOR BAIN MARIE/MAKE CRUST: Heat oven to 350 F. Set rack at center. Heat a kettle of water for the bain marie to boiling, then turn down to keep hot until needed. In food processor, pulse walnuts with sugar, ginger, and cinnamon until finely ground. Pour in butter and pulse until mixture is like moist sand. Using a small sheet of plastic wrap or a flat-bottomed measuring cup (or both), press the crumbs evenly into the bottom of the pan and half way up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Place pan on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake 12 minutes and remove to a rack while you make the filling. When cool, wrap the springform pan bottom and half-way up the sides tightly with two layers of aluminum foil.
    • REDUCE OVEN TEMPERATURE TO 300 F.
    • MAKE THE SOUR CREAM MIXTURE: Mix together the sour cream, vanilla, and instant coffee in a cup and set aside.
    • MELT THE CHOCOLATE: In a double boiler over medium heat (or in a microwave) melt chocolate and stir until smooth. Set aside to cool slightly.
    • MAKE THE FILLING: BEAT THE CREAM CHEESE, ETC./ADD CHOCOLATE, SOUR CREAM MIXTURE, AND EGGS: In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or using a hand-held mixer in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, salt, and cocoa powder until very smooth and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl and the paddle or beaters frequently. Add the sugar and continue beating until well-blended and smooth.
      Scrape the melted chocolate into the bowl; beat until blended. Beat in the sour cream mixture until well-blended.
      Add the eggs, one at a time to the filling, and beat until just blended. Don’t overbeat after the eggs have been added or the cheesecake will puff too much.
      If the water isn't hot, bring it once again to a boil.
    • POUR THE FILLING INTO THE COOLED CRUST in the foil-wrapped pan and smooth the top evenly. Put the filled pan in the center of a deep roasting pan or similar casserole, etc., and place it on the center rack of the heated oven. Carefully pour the boiling water into one corner of the roasting pan so that it comes up nearly half-way up the sides of the springform cake pan. Using two hands, gently push the rack into the oven.
    • BAKE THE CAKE 70-90 * minutes OR until the center barely jiggles when nudged. Start checking at 65 minutes. The center should not be done; it will finish baking and firming up as it cools. Remove entire roasting pan with the cake and water to a cooling rack and let everything rest for several hours until completely cool. Remove cake from the water bath, discard foil, dry bottom with towels, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate several hours or overnight for best texture and flavor.
    • SERVE: Unclasp the pan’s ring and remove it. Using the left hand to hold the ring, push the bottom of the pan with the cake up through the ring with the right hand and slide it onto a serving platter. Dust top of cake with extra cocoa through a small sieve. Slice with a knife dipped in water, wiping knife between slices with a paper towel to insure clean slices. Serve with whipped cream if you like. Store leftovers up to one week well-wrapped in the fridge or for one month in the freezer. *original recipe indicates 60-70 min baking time for the cake alone to bake (no bain marie)

    Notes

    Copyright Alyce Morgan, 2022.

    How to Melt Chocolate in the Microwave (or on the stovetop)/GOOD HOUSEKEEPING

    When is a cheesecake done? Read up here: Knowing When Pies, Pastries, and Cheesecakes are Done/ COOK’S ILLUSTRATED

    Choice Cheesecakes: Which Baking Method is Best/SCIENCE PROJECT

    TRIPLE CHOCOLATE CHEESECAKE (Contains Gluten)

    Bake and cool this perfectly luscious chocolate cheesecake in a bain marie (water bath) to prevent overbaking and to avoid cracks in the cake. It’s best to make the cake a day ahead as it needs to cool completely in the bain marie and then thoroughly chill and rest for several hours in the fridge. Read through entire recipe before beginning. There’s nothing difficult, but there are numerous steps. If you’ve no food processor, crush the cookies in a gallon bag with a rolling pin or wine bottle. Whipped cream is a lovely accompaniment to this dessert.
    Recipe by Abigail Johnson Dodge/Fine Cooking Magazine. Rewritten/ includes baking method changes by Alyce Morgan/moretimeatthetable.com
    makes one (9-inch) cheesecake using a springform pan

    Ingredients

    CRUST:

    • 1 ½ cups (8 oz/227 grams) finely crushed chocolate wafers (I like the Nabisco wafers from the store.)
    • 3 tablespoons (1.32 oz/37.5 grams) granulated sugar
    • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • ¼ cup (2 oz/57 grams) unsalted butter, melted

    FILLING: Sour Cream Mixture

    • ½ cup (4 oz/113 grams) sour cream
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla
    • 2 teaspoons instant coffee or espresso powder

    FILLING: Melted Chocolate

    • 8- ounces (227 grams) bittersweet chocolate

    FILLING: Cream Cheese mixture:

    • 3 (8 oz/227 grams ) packages cream cheese at room temperature
    • ¼ teaspoon table salt
    • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder-sifted if lumpy (plus extra for serving)
    • 1 ¼ cups (9 oz/255 grams) granulated sugar

    FILLING: Eggs–3 large eggs at room temperature

      Instructions

      • HEAT WATER FOR BAIN MARIE/MAKE THE CRUST: Heat oven to 400 F. Set rack at center. Heat a kettle of water for the bain marie to boiling, then turn down to keep hot until needed. In a medium bowl (or in a food processor), mix together or pulse (you can crush the cookies in the food processor now) the crushed chocolate wafers, sugar, cinnamon, and melted butter. Dump mixture into a 9-inch springform pan and press evenly onto the bottom and an inch up the sides of the pan using a sheet of plastic wrap or a flat-bottomed coffee cup. Place pan on rimmed baking sheet. Bake 10 minutes. Remove to a rack to cool. Wrap the springform pan bottom and half-way up the sides tightly with two layers of aluminum foil.
      • REDUCE OVEN TEMPERATURE TO 300 F.
      • MAKE THE SOUR CREAM MIXTURE: Mix together the sour cream, vanilla, and instant coffee in a cup and set aside.
      • MELT THE CHOCOLATE: In a double boiler over medium heat (or in a microwave) melt chocolate and stir until smooth. Set aside to cool slightly.
      • MAKE THE FILLING: BEAT THE CREAM CHEESE, ETC./ADD MELTED CHOCOLATE, SOUR CREAM MIXTURE, AND EGGS: In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or using a hand-held mixer in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, salt, and cocoa powder until very smooth and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl and the paddle or beaters frequently. Add the sugar and continue beating until well-blended and smooth.
        Scrape the melted chocolate into the bowl; beat until blended. Beat in the sour cream mixture.
        Add the eggs, one at a time to the filling, and beat until just blended. Don’t overbeat after the eggs have been added or the cheesecake will puff too much.
        ( If the water in the kettle is not really hot, bring it once more to a boil.)
      • POUR THE FILLING INTO THE COOLED CRUST in the foil-wrapped pan and smooth the top evenly. Put the filled pan in the center of a deep roasting pan or similar casserole, etc., and place it on the center rack of the heated oven. Carefully pour the boiling water into one corner of the roasting pan so that it comes up nearly half-way up the sides of the springform cake pan. Using two hands, gently push the rack into the oven.
      • BAKE THE CAKE 70-90 * minutes OR until the center barely jiggles when nudged. Start checking at 65 minutes. The center should not be done; it will finish baking and firming up as it cools. Remove entire roasting pan with the cake and water to a cooling rack and let everything rest for several hours until completely cool. Remove cake from the water bath, discard foil, dry bottom with towels, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate several hours or overnight for best texture and flavor.
      • SERVE: Unclasp the pan’s ring and remove it. Using the left hand to hold the ring, push the bottom of the pan with the cake up through the ring with the right hand and slide it onto a serving platter. Dust top of cake with extra cocoa through a small sieve. Slice with a knife dipped in water, wiping knife between slices with a paper towel to insure clean slices. Serve with whipped cream if you like. Store leftovers up to one week well-wrapped in the fridge or for one month in the freezer.
        *original recipe indicates 60-70 min baking time for the cake alone to bake (no bain marie)
      Pan just pulled from oven. Note the drier edges and softer center, which will finish cooking as the pan, with the cake in it, cools for several hours. I put a kitchen towel in the bottom of the roasting pan before adding the cake and then the water just to make sure the cake pan stays in place as it bakes.

      TIPS:

      Original version of “If I Knew You Were Coming, I’d Have Baked a Cake” (Eileen Barton, 1950)

      RIP Fine Cooking Magazine/Chef Diana Andrews

      Triple-Chocolate Cheesecake from Abigail Johnson Dodge/Chewingthefat.us.com

      If you liked this, you might like my Cranberry-Citrus Cheesecake with Cinnamon Graham Crust.

      LIFE GOES ON: Thanksgiving’s coming….and that’s ok.

      (above) The just-groomed babies (Tucker, golden retriever and Rosie, labradoodle) waiting patiently for mom while I cook. Tucker has his 13th birthday on November 14. He’s always been the best boy….but is now creaky yet still not cranky. A chronic cough seems helped somewhat by reflux meds and homemade food. Who doesn’t like chicken and rice?! And if only he’d stop eating wood and deer poop.  Harrumph.

      Thanksgiving Song/Mary Chapin Carpenter

      Everyone always talks about doing things way ahead for Thanksgiving. You can; I sometimes do. But one of the beautiful things about a feast is the immediacy of its preparation. The exciting time-crush to get it all done before guests arrive and eat it all while it’s fresh. The offers of help, good and bad. “Can I just watch you make that gravy?” (No.) The over-full fridge. Last minute additions. Long-repeated stories and jokes. Big hugs and sloppy kisses. The turkey not getting done on time. (Once, we were ready to eat before discovering the turkey needed more time in the oven. Since everything else was done — and hot (no mean feat in Colorado) — we carved what we could to get started and put the rest back in the oven. Lovely meal and later we snacked on turkey legs.) Clean aprons. Giggling. “Who’s setting the table?” Forgetting the pie and letting its edges burn. (Probably still tasty. Pie rarely gets over-baked.) A kid (or an adult) in tears. Someone with a rumbly tumbly. Another someone sneaking a taste of gravy with their index finger. An empty seat at the table this year. Ok, more than one. Dog stealing the rolls. “We have to have _______. It’s not Thanksgiving without ______.” Dishes, dishes, dishes… Someone having a pi$$y argument. Leaving the cranberry sauce in the fridge only to be discovered on Friday morning. A great prayer at the table. Fun football game to doze through. (Or not.) It’s what makes Thanksgiving Thanksgiving. And what the memories are all about. I’m incredibly fond of watching a certain movie or two over the holiday:

      Best Quote from my fave Thanksgiving movie, HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS (1995)--with a for-real cast of stars, including Holly Hunter, a very young Claire Danes, and directed by Jodie Foster:
      
       "Nobody means what they say on Thanksgiving, Mom. You know that. That's what the day's supposed to be all about, right? Torture."
       — Claudia
      So plan on setting your table and pray for it to get messed up! (Pictured: Favorite granddaughter, Piper Jean Morgan, sitting at Thanksgiving with her Papa, husband and best sous chef, Dave.)

      Think ahead, but don’t worry about it all.

      Alyce

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