Monday, December 26, 2011

Chocolate Espresso-Orange Cheesecake with Grand Marnier Ganache and Candied Orange Peel

Rich in color and flavor, textures slowly melting on your tongue, the slight crunch of the cookie crust adding complexity.... Combine this with the competing flavors of chocolate, coffee and orange darting around your mouth and your first bite of this decadent dessert will assure you that there is indeed a heaven - and that when you get there, Grand Marnier enhanced cheesecakes will be on each and every menu.

Already slightly euphoric following a delightful Christmas Eve with family and close friends, one of those where nearly everything goes right, this luscious, exquisite, sumptuous finale to our holiday meal brought a heavenly end to a wonderful day.  Our laughter filled afternoon had parents sharing stories of holidays past while filling in our young teens on their toddler antics and embarrassing moments.  Taken well in stride, the kids laughed along with us with exclamations of "Did I really do that?" followed by contagious giggles and even more stories.

The Prime Rib was overcooked, but well-done loving grandma was thrilled with the "perfectly cooked for her" end piece.  Luckily the rest of us were OK with medium even though medium-rare would have been optimum.  The green beans were steamed and simply adorned with olive oil and a sprinkle of salt as Liv had requested, and the Irresistible Orange Sweet Potatoes had us all reaching for more.  Ahhh... that streusel is simply divine.

With our appetites already satiated, slices of Chocolate Cheesecake magically appeared, beautifully adorned with sweet strips of candied orange peel.  The surprise arrived when the first bite brought flavors not only hinting of espresso, but also a brightness of orange.  A brightness enhanced with a lovely Grand Marnier finish eliciting delighted groans of pleasure with each delicate bite.

Spiked with pure espresso grounds and Kahlua, the coffee flavors complemented the rich chocolate filling along with flavors of pure orange from the juice and peels of fruits picked less than 24 hours earlier from our own yard.  Topped with a version of my favorite luscious Grand Marnier Ganache, this heavenly dessert must have appealed even to angels watching over us.

Chocolate Espresso-Orange Cheesecake with Grand Marnier Ganache and Candied Orange Peel

2/3 pkg of Trader Joe's Chocolate Joe-Joe's
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 Tbs granulated sugar (optional - I like the crunch!)
1 tsp finely ground espresso beans

4 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped 
2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed (I used fresh squeezed OJ)
1-2 Tbs finely grated orange peel
2 tablespoons coffee liqueur (I used Kahlua)
2 tablespoons Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur (I may have added a splash extra...)
1 1/2 Tbs finely ground espresso beans
3 large eggs

1/3 cup whipping cream
5 1/2 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped 
3 tablespoons Grand Marnier

Candied Orange Peel (optional)
Chocolate Covered Espresso Beans (optional)

For Crust:
Preheat oven to 325°F. Wrap outside of 9-inch-diameter springform pan with 2 3/4-inch-high sides with foil. Place sandwich cookies into a food processor. Process until large crumbs form. Add melted butter, sugar and espresso beans and process again until smaller, moist crumbs form.  Press crumbs onto bottom and 1 1/2 inches up sides of prepared pan.
For Filling:
Melt chocolate in top of double boiler set over simmering water, stirring until smooth, set aside. Using and electric or a stand mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar in large bowl until smooth. Mix in slightly cooled, melted chocolate.  Add juice concentrate, peel, liqueurs and finely ground espresso beans; beat until mixture is smooth. Beat in eggs, adding 1 at a time and mixing only until combined (try not to overmix at this point).

Pour batter into crust. Bake until softly set in center and slightly puffed at edges, about 45 minutes.  Turn oven off and let cool 10 minutes inside the oven with the door ajar.  Remove cheesecake from oven and cool on a wire rack.  Run a knife around the sides of the pan.  When the cheesecake is room temperature, prepare topping.
For Topping:
Heat the cream on the stove until simmering.  Remove from heat and add the chopped chocolate.  Stir after about a minute and stir until the chocolate is completely melted.  Whisk in the Grand Marnier to combine.  Cool slightly.
Spread the topping over the cooled cheesecake, then place chocolate covered espresso beans around the edges of the cheesecake if desired.  Place cheesecake into refrigerator and chill, best to chill overnight.

When ready to serve, remove from the refrigerator and run a knife around the edges of the pan again.  Release cheesecake and slice.

Garnish with candied orange peel if desired.

Liv Life Notes:  For pretty slices, warm your knife under warm water.  Dry and make one slice.  Wipe with a paper towel and slice again.  Wipe with paper towel after each slice, and re-warm the knife if necessary.


  1. Looks delicious. Would love for you to share your pictures with us over at

  2. omg, looks so devine! orange & chocolate make for such a great combo, gonna make this :)

  3. Oh man, that looks like therhickest, creamiest cheesecake! I love espresso chocolate combinations and would probably die for a slice of this!

  4. Kim, this cheesecake looks incredible. Chocolate orange at this time of year is already quite something but this is certainly special! Sounds like a fabulous family Christmas. Cheers to you, your family, and many more delights like this in 2012!

  5. Lovely cheesecake creation! Coffee orange and chocolate do make for a delicious combination. This one is a keeper-well done!

  6. mmm....I can almost taste the flavour by seeing this tempting photograph! Looks super delicious!

  7. Looks so beautiful and luxurious!

  8. This is worth every pound I'm going to gain this Holiday season. I simply adore the chocolate/orange combination. Mouth watering... Yum...

  9. Beautiful pictures! This looks amazing!

  10. This cheesecake is great, the combination of orange, chocolate and coffee is just perfect.

  11. Oh my goodness that must by such a rich cheesecake with such an amazing texture! It looks divine Kim! I love the espresso!

  12. Kim,
    I love the chocolate, orange, espresso, especially in a cheesecake.
    The Grand Marnier doesn't hurt either. This is a wonderful ending to a perfect day!

  13. You had me at Grand Marnier...but this entire combo of flavors sounds DIVINE! Glad you had a nice Christmas, Kim!!

  14. This sounds amazing! Espresso chocolate would have been good but orange as well makes it even better! Beautiful photos as well, congrats on the top 9!

  15. Wow... restaurant serving standard! Exquisite presentation.

  16. This is my kind of cake! I love the combination of Grand Marnier with chocolate. In fact, it was my wedding cake! Gorgeous!

  17. Oh, my gosh, this looks amazing!!! Just a spectacular dessert!!! Perfect photos of a perfect dessert, Kim. Hope you had a wonderful Christmas...and wishing you a delicious 2012 filled with peace and love!

  18. I am speechless at the sight of this absolutely divine looking and sounding cake!

  19. Kim,
    This looks incredible - it is making my mouth water to the point of almost drooling! I would be so happy if I could have just a little sliver right now! Thanks!

  20. Oh my freaking gosh! Those shots are so sexy! And chocolate and orange is my fav combo... mix in espresso and cheesecake! I think I just yelped out loud! Lol!

  21. OMG. That looks A. MA. ZING.
    Happy holidays!

  22. This is gorgeous! I simply love taking the time to create a special, beautiful dessert and this certainly fits that standard.

    I just finished my own holiday dessert cake but now wondering if I need two! Very nice.

  23. This sounds amazing. Just one question. What are Trader Joe's Chocolate Joe-Joe's? Are they some kind of cookies? Any suggestions for substitutions?

  24. Truly it is your ambition to make me fat no? This cheesecake is my dreams on my screen :D

    Choc Chip Uru
    Latest: 5 Min Wrap Pizza

  25. I know I'm late to the party here, but your cake looks incredible. It sounds like you had a wonderfully warm Christmas as well. This is my first visit to your blog, and I wanted to say how much I enjoy your writing style, as well. Cheers!

  26. love the cake, will try soon.

  27. What sandwich cookies do you use for crust. not listed as ingredients!!!

    1. I use Trader Joe's Joe-Joe's... basically Trader Joe's version of the Oreo!

  28. I'm one of those people that doesn't think it's a dessert unless it contains chocolate, so I'm ALL for this cheesecake! :)


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