As I grow older, I’m finding that I become pickier and pickier with my desserts. It’s such an odd feeling. It used to be that when I was young, I’d eat almost any kind of dessert but avoid eating foods like eggplant and hot sauce at all costs. Now, I find the reverse to be true. I adore eggplant and hot sauce, but have come to feel ambivalent about certain desserts. Cheesecake, for example, is usually not a dessert I find myself feeling compelled to eat or make. But I think I need to elaborate on this, because some of you might be thinking whaaa? What I mean is that, by normal standards, I enjoy cheesecake. By foodie standards, I will not weep if it’s not on the dessert menu. I’m much more apt to order an affogato than a slice of cheesecake. And that’s because I’m pretty much a sucker for any kind of coffee dessert. I recently made a gluten-free mocha icebox cake for a gathering, and it inspired me to get a little creative with mocha flavoring. I thought, if I love coffee-flavored desserts so much, there’s got to be a way to extend that love to cheesecake. And so this mocha cheesecake was born, and what a glorious birth it was.
While this mocha cheesecake could certainly work with a classic graham cracker crust, I think the Oreo crust is a better move. The Oreo cookie is obviously a chocolate cookie, which not only compliments the chocolate element of the cake, but it also lends that slightly bitter quality that coffee exudes as well. Since cheesecake is usually decadent enough on its own, I decided to kind of turn this dessert into a deconstructed mocha cheesecake in the sense that I separated the coffee and chocolate flavors. I mixed dissolved instant espresso powder into the cheesecake batter, and then brushed a thin layer of dark chocolate ganache onto the surface before sprinkling Oreo crumbs all over the top. I think it keeps the flavors distinct and recognizable, but they still blend well with each bite.
Another goal I had with this mocha cheesecake was to really add a touch of something elegant and “grown-up” to Oreo cheesecake. This may just be me, but I tend to think of Oreo cheesecake as a childhood favorite. Usually you don’t see Oreo cheesecake as a dessert option at finer dining establishments or fancy dinner parties. If there’s cheesecake, it’s typically New York cheesecake with a raspberry or strawberry coulis. I wanted to find a way to incorporate my favorite childhood cookie, Oreos, into a dessert that was fit for a nice dinner party, and I think coffee flavorings are the best way to do that. Coffee, or mocha, is often a flavor that you don’t give to children, usually because they don’t even like it themselves. But us adults? Most of us love it, and if you’re one of those people, you will definitely love this mocha cheesecake!