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April 13, 2009

Triple-decker Chocolate, Coffee, and Toffee Cheesecake

The next time the occasion arises where want to impress your friends, need a raise, or want to otherwise make people temporarily worship you, this is the cheesecake for the task.
  This year I was responsible for the dessert at Easter. So after some thought, I decided to try and make a cheesecake that featured several layers, one of which would be a chocolate. This would help make it more palatable to those family members that aren't chocolate fanatics. After a lot of research, I found a great article written back in 2000 by Eleanor Klinvas, specially about making multilayer cheesecakes. Score! I knew the Triple Decker one would be perfect!
Since I've never attempted to make a cheesecake that has more than one layer before, I have to say it was a lot easier than I thought it would be. The key to making this cake successful is using really good quality ingredients and giving yourself a lot of time to complete each step. The only problem I had with this recipe is that I waited to late in the evening to start baking. Since this cake required two additional hours of attention before I could put it in the refrigerator, I ended up sleeping on the couch for the last two post-baking steps! Seriously though, after seeing everyone's reaction to this cake (especially my mother-in-law), it was totally worth the slight sleep deprivation. :)

Triple-Decker Chocolate, Coffee and Toffee Cheesecake
Yield: 16 servings.
adapted from Eleanor Klivans

Chocolate crumb crust
Butter for pan
2 cups chocolate wafer cookie crumbs (I use Nabisco Famous Wafers and crush them in a food processor)
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted

2 pounds full-fat cream cheese, softened 3 to 4 hours at room temperature
1 1/3 cups sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla bean paste or extract
2 tablespoons whipping cream, at room temperature
2 teaspoons instant coffee dissolved in 1 tablespoon whipping cream
2/3 cup (2, 1.4 ounce bars) crushed toffee, such as Skor or Heath Bars
6 ounces good quality semisweet chocolate such as Lindt, Schaffenburger, or Guittard, chopped (please, avoid Baker's if you can, its flavor is just terrible)*

Prepare the crust
Preheat the oven to 325F. Butter 9-inch springform pan with sides at least 2 3/4 inches high. Mix cookie crumbs and melted butter, combining well. Press crumb mixture evenly over bottom and 1 inch up side of pan. Wrap outside of pan with 1 large piece of heavy foil, making a water tight seal.

Make for 6 minutes. Set aside and cool completely.

Water Bath
Before you start the cheesecake batter, you should get everything ready for the water bath. You'll need a roasting pan that's big enough to hold the spring form pan in both width and height.

While you're preparing the cheesecake, boil a large kettle or pot full of water. Preheat the oven to 325F.

Prepare filling
In a standing mixture, cream the cream cheese in large bowl on low speed until smooth for 1 minute. Add sugar and mix until smooth, about 2 minutes. Scape bowl and beater.

Mix in flour and mix just until the flour disappears. Add eggs, 2 at time, mixing until batter is smooth and no traces of egg can be seen, about 1 minute. Mix in vanilla and cream for about 30 seconds.

Get 2 medium sized bowls, preferably ones that have a pouring spout. Pour 2 cups batter into each of bowl. Stir dissolved coffee into mixture in one of the medium bowls and stir well, until the mixture is an even color. Set aside. Mix the crushed toffee into batter in second medium bowl, mix well, and set aside.

Mix melted chocolate into the batter that's left in the mixing bowl, stirring just until chocolate is incorporated and no white batter shows. Pour chocolate batter into chocolate crust in prepared pan.

Place cheesecake in large baking pan with at least 2-inch high sides and place in oven. Pour hot water into large pan to reach 1-inch up sides of springform pan. Bake 20 minutes.
Carefully slide oven rack out several inches. Pour reserved coffee batter all around inside edge of pan. Batter will flow evenly to cover top of cake. Bake 20 minutes.

Pour reserved toffee batter all around inside edge of pan. Batter will flow evenly to cover top of cake. Bake 30-60 minutes. You'll know it's done when you can give the cheesecake a gentle shake and top doesn't move and looks firm. (FYI: Eleanor's instructions said that the cake should be done after the last 20 minutes, but mine was far from done. I baked it for an additional 45 minutes! Part of this extra time may have been because I was using an 8.5" pan instead of the 9", I'm not exactly sure. Whatever the cause, don't panic. Just be patient, keep the water level consistent, and wait for the top of the cake to get firm.)

Very carefully, remove everything from the pan (roasting pan, water, and cheesecake). Note: If you have a bad back, don't be a hero and ask for help because it's heavy and the water is going to be near boiling. Cool cheesecake in water bath 1 hour on a heat proof surface, covered loosely with paper towel.

Carefully remove cheesecake from water bath. Remove paper towel and cool 1 hour more on a wire rack. Cheesecake should feel cool to touch. Gently run a thin-bladed knife around the edge of the cheesecake. Unhinge the latch on the spring form pan and gently remove the ring. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight.

Serve the cake with whipped cream and chocolate shavings or just plain. When slicing the cake, be sure to clean the knife after each cut. This will ensure prettier slices.

Leftover cheesecake can be covered and refrigerated up to 1 week (not that it will last that long! :)


  1. Oh my word! That looks like heaven!

  2. I would normally call my husband to the computer, but since I know he'd want me to make this RIGHT NOW, I'll at least wait until tomorrow morning. This is his...and maybe my...favorite flavor combination.

    Julia...it's time to quit your day job. :)

  3. That's beautiful! Your MIL better treat you right after a treat like that! :)

  4. I'm with Bridget- what are you waiting for?! OMG... I wish we lived closer. You and me could have one heck of a bakery going, lol...

  5. Wow!!! What a delicious cake!!!

  6. Oh my goodness, Julia! That's amazing! You did a fantastic job. I love desserts that have lots of layers. I'm not crazy about chocolate but I wouldn't turn down a slice. Did YOU like it? That would be the true test for me.

    I liked how you started your post. Thanks for the link to the article by Elinor Klivans.

  7. good lord, julia. i could barely rip my eyes from your photos to leave this comment. what an amazing cake. now i just need an event to attend so i can make it and not eat it all myself. :)

  8. Yum! That combination of flavors is an all-time fave!

  9. Holy cow. That is a work of art, to be sure.

  10. ohhh my god! a chocolate coffee and toffee cheesecake?! are you kidding me? i could eat this whole thing!

  11. Wowzers, this looks truely amazing and makes me so sad to miss out on cheesecakes now. But I love to bake for others and knock their socks off, and this looks like just the thing to do that.

  12. I am in love with this cheesecake. I LOVE every single thing you put into it, everything.. It looks gorgeous! Thanks for sharing this one..

  13. Wow, Julia! This cheesecake is beyond impressive. It's spectacular. No wonder your mother-in-law was so impressed. I'm totally blown away--and hungry!! I can't wait to try this recipe out (of course, making sure to give myself plenty of time so that I don't have to sleep on the sofa :) ).

  14. Wow!! What an excellent piece of work!

  15. Julia, this is quite impressive! You never fail to amaze me. I can't wait to try this one. Thanks!

  16. this looks like a very worthy triple sin cake! :P

  17. WOW WOW WOW!!! this is fantastic, I love the idea of the triple layer!! I bet it was out of this world good!

  18. YUM! this looks amazing
    cant go wrong on this one

  19. i love anything with toffee bits on it. nice cake.

  20. Oooooh that looks SO good.

  21. Looks divine!
    Is there something I could subsitute for the coffee?

  22. Hi Quiggle! You could just leave it plain - it would still be really yummy or you could add 2/3rds of a cup of mini chocolate chips? It's really up to you. :)

  23. Found you on Tastespotter and HAD to try this one. It's currently sitting on the cooling rack awaiting the unveiling. One this is for sure, this takes MUCH longer than 20 minutes per layer in the oven. After 25 minutes on the chocolate layer, I added the coffee layer - it was too soon. Waited 30-40 minutes for the final layers. Let you know how it turns out.

  24. Yeah I think Eleanor Klivans was smoking a little wacky-tabacky when she made this or had some sort of super warp speed oven. There's no way that cake was done in 60 minutes.

    Since you took your time baking the other layers I'm sure it will come out okay. :) I'm excited to hear about your results!

  25. Okay, the dishes are cleaned up and the cheesecake has been eaten. The verdict? It wasn't a home run, it was a grand slam. My husband offered to marry me again, my children respect me again and I have a new spring in my step.

    My 14-year-old son has requested this as a replacement to his usual "dirt cake" birthday cake next month. A sign of maturity?

  26. JoannaT -- on the 4 second rollercoaster ride you just sent me on! When I first read that it wasn't a success I said, "oh no!" aloud and felt a little pit in my stomach but then when I read that it was a home run and actually clapped! Yay!! I'm *thrilled* to hear of your success. Thank you so much for telling me!

    You gave me a little belly laugh!

  27. RobertinAtanta@yahoo.comSeptember 24, 2009

    WOW is only word that comes to mind. I'm retired and cooking has become a second job. Happened on your site looking for instructions on to make "farine fluide"(a mix of white bread and AP flours)that French bakers use to make bagettes and ran down a few of the desserts and this one smacked me right in the face. My salivary glands started working overtime. GOTTA make this soon!

  28. Julia - I am an avid reader of your blog but this is the first recipe I have tried to replicate - and oh my... the final layer is now baking away in my oven and thankfully my tin was not tall enough for all the toffee layer so I have to eat some of it! Can't wait to eat this cake - It has been so fun to cook it! This is my birthday cake that I am baking - so thank you so much for the recipe! Claire xo

  29. Fonz and friendsFebruary 03, 2010

    I LOVE YOUR WORK! I am absolutely coming to this site for every recipe from now on! I am going to make this cake tomorrow for my boyfriend and his brother !

    PS your lemon "starbucks" pound cake is the BEST thing I ever ate/made

  30. Thank you Julia! I love this cheesecake. I posted about this on my blog and directed people here for the recipe. I can't wait to try this with other flavors as well:). I also can't wait to try your better than Starbucks lemon cake:D

  31. Wow, what a fantastic job! I found you through Baked and Caked - she did this cheesecake and posted a link to your recipe.

    I will most definitely be trying this one very soon. We love cheesecake, and this flavor combo is one of my absolute favorites.

    PS - you might like my coffee, toffee, mocha ice cream. Similar flavor profile.


  32. I made this cheesecake for my MIL's birthday yesterday, and it was a HUGE HIT! I changed the coffee layer to caramel to accommodate everyone's tastes. AwEsOmE cheesecake!!

  33. I made this from the same article years ago and then lost the recipe. I have been too chicken to try and make it by tweaking other recipes. So thank you!!! I can't wait to make it again :)

  34. You are my hero!

  35. I wonder if I can make this as cupcakes..?

  36. This looks too good to be true! I'm only a sophomore but my sister and I think we can tackle this as a surprise birthday cake for my moms 34th birthday, I know this might lower her age a few years hahaha!

    1. You can TOTALLY do it. Just take your time. Here's a good trick I recently learned about making cheesecake: Buy a pack of really large oven bags (in the same isle as tin foil). They are normally used to roast turkeys or other things but it will help to keep the water from leaking into your crust. Tin foil always leaches on me!


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