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 a 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 Tiramsu 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 in the cheesecake, similar to the way those flavors are balanced in Tiramisu.
Join me in Provence in 2013 for a French Pastry Culinary Vacation and learn how to create these and other classic French pastries! Details here: Pastry-Making Vacation in Provence
(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 ½ 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
¼ 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.
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 55-60 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 best.
Right before serving, sprinkle the grated chocolate over the cheesecake and serve with whipped cream. Buon Appetito!
What is your favorite flavor of gelato? And, your favorite cheesecake? Have you ever combined the two?