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Ainsley Harriott’s Rich Chocolate and Espresso Cheesecake

For the ultimate indulgence, try this rich chocolate and espresso cheesecake from Ainsley Harriott to round off your next dinner party.

Introduction

Well, you can’t get a better boost to your mood than this fabulously rich and indulgent cheesecake. It’s a simple-to-make chocolate cheesecake with a subtle hint of espresso – a perfect dessert for a dinner party or special treat.

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Ingredients

200g good-quality dark chocolate (minimum70% cocoa solids), chopped
250g full-fat cream cheese, at room temperature
3 tbsp icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp good-quality cocoa powder
220ml double cream, at room temperature
For the base:
80g butter, plus extra for greasing
200g dark chocolate digestive biscuits
2 tsp caster sugar
2 tsp instant espresso powder
For the ganache topping:
100g good-quality dark chocolate (minimum70% cocoa solids), chopped
¾ tsp instant espresso powder
180ml double cream
To decorate:
instant espresso powder
dark chocolate curls or shavings
chocolate-covered espresso beans (optional)

Essential kit

You will need: a deep 20cm springform cake tin.

Method

Grease the base of a deep 20cm springform cake tin and line with baking parchment.

For the base, melt the butter in a pan over a gentle heat. Crush the biscuits with a rolling pin or blitz in a food processor. Place the crumbs in a bowl, add the sugar, espresso powder and melted butter and stir to combine. Tip the base mixture into the prepared tin and level with the back of a metal spoon. Chill for 30 minutes.

Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water, making sure it doesn’t touch the water. Melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Using an electric hand-held mixer, beat together the cream cheese, icing sugar and vanilla extract in a large bowl until smooth. Sift in the cocoa powder and beat until combined. Fold in a spoonful of the cooled chocolate until combined then fold in the rest of the chocolate. Gradually pour in the cream, whisking continuously, until thick and smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure all of the cream cheese is mixed together. Spoon the mixture over the biscuit base, smoothing it out with a spatula or the back of a spoon. Chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours, until set.

When set, make the ganache topping. Put the chocolate and espresso powder into a bowl and set aside. Place the cream in a small saucepan over a low medium heat and bring to a low simmer – don’t let it boil. Pour the cream over the chocolate and leave it to melt for a minute. Slowly whisk the cream through, moving in the same direction, until combined and smooth. Set aside to cool for 6–8 minutes before pouring onto the cheesecake. Gently tilt the cheesecake tin to enable the ganache to spread across the top. Chill in the fridge for 30–40 minutes until set.

Partly unclip the tin and gently slide a small palette knife around the edge of the cake to loosen. Fully open the tin and remove the cake. You may need to smooth the edges with the palette knife. Decorate the top of the cake with a little espresso powder, chocolate curls or shavings and chocolate-covered espresso beans (if using).

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