Chocolate Mascarpone Cheesecake with Nib Brittle and Balsamic Strawberries

I don’t know what to say to people who tell me that this cake is better than sex. I guess, it’s entirely depends on a personal experience. But I do know for sure the cheesecake is quite good. I prefer my cheesecakes crustless (there… I said it). I like something crunchy to be served on a side. In this case, literally. The brittle is the last minute finishing touch. If you are not serving the cake to a crowd and not certain that the cake will be eaten all at once, don’t press the brittle into the sides since it will melt fairly quickly. Instead, offer the brittle broken into large shards as an accompaniment. Sure, if you have nothing against a cheesecake crust, you can make a chocolate crumb one (you can see Caramel Chocolate Cheesecake for instruction).

We are lucky to have fresh strawberries here all year-round. But if you want to get the decent ones you will have to pay. As for the balsamic I advise you to use something better than 5 bucks-per-bottle from the closest supermarket. It’s probably a good time to reach for that onion-shaped bottle of the Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena.

Don’t get discouraged by all this foodie-snobby stuff. The cake will be awesome served with strawberry or raspberry sauce, and you can use frozen berries for this purpose.

Makes one 9-inch cake, about 16 servings

For the cheesecake:

  • 2 cups whipping cream, divided
  • 1 tsp espresso powder
  • 1 lb bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped, divided
  • 8 oz mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
  • 8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
  • ¾ cup fine granulated sugar
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch, sifted
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract

For the brittle:

  • use half of this recipe, substituting hazelnuts for cocoa nibs

For the balsamic strawberries:

  • ½ lb of strawberries
  • 2 tsp good quality balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp extra fine granulated sugar

Make the cheesecake:

Center an oven rack and preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a bottom of the 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper circle. Lightly butter the parchment and the sides of the pan. Wrap the pan tightly in a double layer of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Set aside.

Place 12 oz of the chopped chocolate in a medium bowl. Heat the 1 ½ cups of the whipping cream and 1 tsp of the espresso powder in a small saucepan over medium heat until the espresso powder dissolves and the cream comes just to a boiling point. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate. Let stand for a couple of minutes, then whisk until the ganache is smooth. Set aside to cool until warm.

Beat the mascarpone and cream cheese with an electric mixer until fluffy, gradually adding the sugar. Beat in the sour cream and cornstarch. Mix in the chocolate mixture on low speed. Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time, then the vanilla extract, beating on low speed until well combined, scraping down a bowl as needed.

Pour the filling into the pan. Place the springform in a large roasting pan and pour hot water into the roasting pan so that it comes about halfway up the springform. Transfer carefully to the oven and bake until softly set, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Turn off the oven. Let the cake stand in the oven for another hour. Transfer the springform pan onto the rack and cool. Cover; chill the cake overnight.

The next day glaze the top of the cheesecake with chocolate ganache. Place the remaining 4 oz of the chopped chocolate in a small bowl. In a small saucepan, bring the remaining ½ cup of the whipping cream to a boil, pour the hot cream over the chocolate. Let stand for a couple of minutes, then whisk until the ganache is smooth. Cool until the ganache is 88-90F and pour it over the top of the cheesecake. Tilt the cake in the pan to facilitate the spreading. Refrigerate until the chocolate glaze has set, for at least a couple of hours.

Run a knife around the edge of the cake to loosen and remove the side of the pan. Transfer the cake to a plate. Bring to room temperature before serving. Right before serving, press the chopped cocoa nib brittle into the sides of the cake if you wish. Serve with the marinated strawberries.

Marinate the strawberries:

Hull and thinly slice the strawberries. Place the strawberries into a small bowl. Add the balsamic and sugar and gently stir to combine. Let macerate for about 15 minutes. Serve.

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33 Responses to “Chocolate Mascarpone Cheesecake with Nib Brittle and Balsamic Strawberries”

  1. How beautiful!! Cheesecakes with no crust perhaps will remind me of a smooth, firm custard more than anything else. But crust or no crust, I love cheesecakes!!

  2. Beautiful and perfect! That mascarpone cheesecake looks fantastic!



  3. I too prefer no crust. Isn’t it silly to make one with a crust just to eat the filling? Looks awesome!

  4. beautiful vera

  5. WOW – that’s so beautiful and I bet it tastes amazing! Everything is better with chocolate and mascarpone :)

  6. Oh Vera, does this ever look good! I will have to consider this for my upcoming New Years Day brunch.

  7. I adore the taste of mascarpone and chocolate combined. Your cake looks perfect!

  8. Nib brittle? My mouth is watering. The dessert looks divine!

  9. I never knew what to do with nibs before I read your post. Always appreciate the new tidbits of info I learn from your blog.

  10. this looks delicious! so tempting to go and have one now!

  11. i’ve not yet found a properly-made cheesecake that i didn’t like, but this one sounds particularly delicious. i think the brittle is what’s making me swoon. yep, it is. :)

  12. Oh that looks really grand!

  13. Ah, another who prefers their cheesecake without a crust…I’m not alone. The gorgeous photo is enough to convince me this might be better than sex. Looks absolutey decadent and sinful…my kind of dessert.

  14. It looks beautiful :)

  15. Better than sex??NO Delicious???YES

  16. Wow…that looks BEAUTIFUL! It sounds and looks amazing!

  17. Flawless! I’ve heard of strawberries with balsamic but haven’t tried it, I imagine it tastes pretty heavenly paired with the chocolate :).

    Definitely will try this recipe soooooooon!!! Thanks so much for sharing!

  19. Oh. My. Goodness. That looks so sinfully wonderful! I love the nibs angle and strawberries with basalmic vinegar are over the moon!

  20. This looks magical. And your foodie wisdom is inspiring, although I’m glad there are alternative for those of us who can’t get perfect strawberries all year round.

  21. Thank you, all, so much for the lovely comments!

  22. Very pretty and delicious looking cheesecake. Once had a white chocolate cheesecake but that was too heavy (even for me ;)) This dark chocolate one must have been much better.

  23. WOW another triumph!! this looks so sophisticated :) i can t beleive cheesecake can look so perfect :) well done

  24. Hi Vera -

    I didn’t want to bake but after starring, starring and starring at your creation, I finally gave up and wanted to try out the recipe!!! Needless to say, your cheesecake is absolutely mouthwatering!

    Reading the instruction, I’m curious at one thing. The instruction asks to prepare the chocolate ganache twice – the day the cheesecake is baked, then the day after the cheesecake has been chilled overnight. Is there a reason for this?

    Your response is greatly appreciated and thanks so much for this wonderful post.
    Have a Happy Holiday season!

  25. Adelina, thank you! The first portion of the ganache goes into the cheesecake batter. The second one, made the following day, is the chocolate glaze on the top of the cheesecake. Hope it helps. The total amount of the chocolate stated in the recipe is divided for these two purposes, as well as the whipping cream. And Happy Holidays to you, too!

  26. your pictures are beautiful, the quality of the picture is really great!

  27. I tried this recipe recently. It was my very first attempt to ever make a cheesecake and it turned out PERFECTION! I made it for family and there was none left at the end of the meal! This will absolutely be my #1 go-to any time I ever need a chocolate cheesecake!!

  28. Cara, thank you for letting me know. I am so glad you liked it!

  29. hi vera,

    if i couldn’t use mascarpone then how would i alter the recipe?

  30. Venus, you can substitute mascarpone for the same amount of cream cheese.

  31. thanks vera! do i alter the sugar as well? (if im not mistaken mascarpone is sweeter?)

  32. Venus, there’s no need to adjust sugar.

  33. beautiful

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