Have you ever taken a bite of something that tastes like a slice of Heaven? This is exactly how I have described this particular cheesecake on many occasions. It’s a rich, coffee-flavored New York style cheesecake topped with ladyfingers dipped in coffee and liquor, and a smooth layer of whipped mascarpone cheese, dusted with cocoa. It’s the type of dessert that if you’re ever conflicted on choosing between Tiramisu or Cheesecake, it is most definitely the perfect combination.
There have been multiple people who aren’t big coffee lovers (GASP) who change their tune about coffee-flavored desserts when taking a bite of this cheesecake. It’s fun to watch doubt go flying out the door in an instant when this happens.
When I make this for gatherings, there’s usually a chocolate or fruit dessert to accompany it, just for a little variety. That is the spice of life, right??
For the Crust
1 ¼ cups Nilla Wafer crumbs (or you can use graham cracker crumbs)
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
For the Filling
3 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, softened
¼ cup cornstarch
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
1/2 tablespoon coffee extract
1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup heavy cream
For the Topping
1 package frozen ladyfingers, thawed
1/4 cup strong brewed coffee, cooled
1/4 cup coffee liquor
8 oz. mascarpone cheese
4 oz. whipped topping, thawed
unsweetened cocoa, for dusting
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Double-wrap the outside of a 9 inch springform pan with heavy duty aluminum foil, place inside a 12 inch cake pan. Place graham cracker crumbs and 2 tablespoons sugar in a small mixing bowl, toss together. Add the melted butter and mix with your hands until thoroughly combined. Rub butter all along the bottom of the springform pan, then press graham cracker mixture evenly along the bottom. Place pans in the oven to bake for 7 minutes, remove pans from oven and set aside.
In a standing mixer (or mixing bowl and using electric mixer), add 8 oz. cream cheese, cornstarch, and 2/3 cup sugar. Beat at medium speed with the paddle attachment until mixture is smooth. Add another 8 oz. cream cheese, along with 1/3 cup sugar and continue to beat until smooth. Add remaining cream cheese and granulated sugar, one at a time, until smooth. Slow mixer to stirring speed, add extracts and one egg at a time, scraping down the sides. Turn on to stirring speed and slowly add heavy cream, beat just until mixed in (do not overmix). Spoon batter into springform pan on top of graham cracker crust and spread into an even layer.
Pour warm water into the larger cake pan, creating a water bath (this prevents cracks). The water should come up at least 1 inch around the springform pan. Carefully place pans in oven and bake for about 1 hour 15 minutes, until lightly browned on top. Remove pans from oven, pull the springform pan out of the larger pan and place on a cooling rack for about 4 hours to cool completely. Remove aluminum foil from around pan.
Cover springform pan with plastic wrap and place in freezer to set for at least 4 hours, but preferably overnight. Remove plastic wrap from springform pan, release and remove sides of springform. Place a piece of parchment or wax paper on top of cheesecake, turn upside down onto a flat surface. Carefully remove bottom of pan, turn back over onto a serving plate.
Combine coffee and liquor in a small bowl, lightly dip ladyfingers (top and bottom), place on top of cheesecake in an even layer. This will require tearing some in half to fit. In a small mixing bowl, combine mascarpone and whipped topping and beat at medium speed until smooth. Spread on top of ladyfingers layer, then sprinkle with cocoa. Return to freezer for about 30 minutes for topping to set.
Cut into slices with a sharp, straight edged knife, wiping knife between each cut. Store cheesecake in refrigerator until ready to serve for up to 7 days, or in the freezer for 1 month.