Here's the deal: I don't really do innovative in the kitchen. At least not when I'm baking. I'm OK with trying anything, no matter how weird, as long as I have A RECIPE OMG, but stick me with a general theme and a request to "come up with something interesting" and you'll find me tearing out my hair in desperation. HOWEVER, for my first ever Donna Day, I was going to change all that. I was going to boldly go where, OK, others had probably gone before, but I wouldn't follow on purpose.
Except... it's my mother's birthday. My mother wanted cheesecake for her birthday, which was fortuitous as I couldn't justify baking two cakes in a single week. My mother wanted chocolate orange cheesecake. (My mother is probably getting tired of being namechecked in this here blog, and in such a disparaging manner. Can I tell you about the fabulous pork she made for our family lunch on Sunday? It was fabulous! And pork! Which is a meat!) And like the creature of habit I am, I just took a tiny peek at epicurious and just happened to search for "cheesecake," "orange" and "chocolate" - I swear it was an accident! - and found... this Mocha-Orange Cheesecake. And that, as they say, was that.
Now, once I have a recipe, I'm perfectly fine with tinkering. For one thing, I wouldn't know a Pepperidge Farm Orange Milano cookie if, er, I bit into it, although chances are I would like it really a lot. I'm also not sure where I'd ever find frozen juice concentrate, and my booze collection pretty much consists of cooking sherry, and I
I'm always surprised when something I do without a set recipe turns out fabulous, and this totally did (even if I had some, er, issues with construction). The crust is wonderful, the cheesecake layer fresh and intensely orange-y, and the ganache faintly coffee-flavored and fairly sweet. In fact, if you make this without the ganache you may need to up the sugar in the actual cake a bit. (Yes, that is a Moomin spoon. Do you know how long I've waited to post a recipe displaying my Moomin spoons? Longer than I've had this blog, that's how long!)
for the crust
150 g (5½ oz) crushed chocolate chocolate chip cookies
grated peel of one untreated orange
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tbsp sugar
50 g (1¾ oz) butter, melted
for the cream cheese
250 g (9 oz) mascarpone cheese
400 g (14 oz) cream cheese (Philadelphia)
130 g (4½ oz) sugar
juice and grated peel of one orange
1 tsp instant espresso powder
50 g (1¾ oz) dark chocolate
for the ganache
240 g (8½ oz) dark chocolate
200 ml (6¾ fl oz) thick cream
2 tsp instant espresso powder
250 ml (1 cup) icing sugar
Whizz together the ingredients for the crust and press into the bottom of a springform pan (mine is 23 cm (9 inches) in diameter, but a smaller one would probably yield a prettier result). Bake at 175°C (350°F) for about ten minutes, let cool.
Mix the cheeses until smooth and, er, mixed. Add sugar, orange juice & peel and the eggs, whisk until combined.
Melt the chocolate for the cake in the microwave. Add 1 tsp espresso powder and about a third of the cheese/egg mixture, blend well.
Pour about half of the plain cheese mixture in the springform pan, then gently spoon over the chocolatey cheese. The plan here was to go for layers, but of course the chocolate mixture was much less runny than the plain orangey one, so that totally didn't work out. If you feel strongly about layers you could probably bake the bottom plain layer for a while, until it firms up a bit, then add the chocolate and top with the rest of the plain orange layer, but I did not have the time for that crap, so settled for dumping blips of chocolate in the pan, topping with the rest of the orange, and finally running a knife around the thing for a marbled effect.
Bake in a bain marie (wrap your springform pan in foil first!) at 150°C (300°F) for 50 minutes, turn off the oven and leave the cake there to cool.
For the ganache, heat the cream until almost boiling, the pour over the (chopped) chocolate and espresso powder, let stand for a minute and mix to combine. Blend in the icing sugar and let cool. Once it's thickened, whip until dense and fluffy and decorate pipe on top of the cake.