Coffee and cream is a classic combination – a combination that usually comes in liquid form. Instead of whipping up a hot beverage, I took a cooler route and made a Coffee-Swirl Cheesecake. The cheesecake features a swirl of two different cheesecake batters: vanilla and coffee. The vanilla batter is flavored with vanilla extract and has all the tangy goodness of a traditional cheesecake. The coffee batter adds instant espresso powder (I highly recommend Starbucks Via here, as it dissolves so easily in the batter) to a portion of the vanilla cheesecake base. The two batters are swirled together just before baking.
The cheesecake is rich and dense, with that deliciously creamy texture that you expect to find in a good cheesecake. The flavor of the coffee really comes through in the filling, standing out against the surrounding vanilla cheesecake nicely. I used a cinnamon and graham cracker crumb crust as the base. Adding extra cinnamon in the crust really accents the coffee nicely, just as adding a sprinkle of cinnamon to the top of your favorite coffee drink can take it from good to great.
For this recipe, I baked the crust immediately before I prepared the filling and poured the filling into the pan while it was still hot from baking the crust. It might surprise you to know that this doesn’t prevent the crust from staying crisp after baking. Instead, it helps to cook the filling a bit more quickly than usual, though it also cooks the cheesecake very evenly. This will save you a lot of pre-baking and cooling time and get you to the point where you can dig into your cheesecake much more quickly.
The cheesecake is best after it has been chilled, though it can also be served at room temperature. I recommend chilling the cheesecake for several hours, or overnight, before serving. The cheesecake will keep – wrapped or stored in an airtight container – for at least a few days after baking. Serve it as-is, or with a dollop of whipped cream on the side.
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
16 oz (2 packages) cream cheese, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2-2 tsp instant espresso powder or Starbucks Via
Preheat oven to 350F. Take out a 9-inch springform pan.
In a food processor, whizz together graham crackers, sugar, salt and cinnamon until mixture is reduced to fine crumbs. Add in melted butter and vanilla and pulse until mixture is well-moistened and begins to clump together.
Pack crust mixture down into an even layer in the base of a 9-inch springform pan.
Bake for 14-16 minutes, until crust is lightly browned at the outer edge.
While crust is baking, prepare the filling. (Filling will be added to the baked crust while the crust is still hot)
In the food processor, combine all filling ingredients except for the instant coffee/espresso powder. Whizz until very smooth and well-combined, stopping to scrape down the sides of the machine a few times.
Remove 1 cup of the filling mixture and transfer it to a small bowl. Add in Starbucks via (if using espresso powder, dissolve it in 1 or 2 teaspoons of hot milk or water first) and stir until coffee is completely incorporated and mixture has a uniform color.
Pour vanilla batter into prepared springform pan (pan will still be hot). Pour the coffee batter over the vanilla batter, making a swirling pattern. Use a butter knife to gently swirl the coffee batter through the vanilla batter.
Lower oven temperature to 300F.
Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until the cheesecake is set and jiggles only slightly when the pan is tapped. Allow cheesecake to cool to room temperature before refrigerating and refrigerate until cold before serving.