Scotch Mocha Mascarpone Cheesecakes

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Crust

Add to the bowl of a food processor with metal blade
   2 cups graham crackers, broken into 1/2 inch pieces.
   1/2 cup grated coconut.
   1/2 cup sugar.
Process til fine. Add
   6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter.
Process until the butter is thoroughly incorporated and the mixture is smooth. Do not process so long that the butter begins to melt.

Line the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking pan with parchment, rubbing the pan first with margarine or butter to make it stick.

Spread the graham cracker mixture evenly over the bottom of the lined pan. You may eat any of the mixture that it left over.

Bake in the preheated over for 10 or 15 minutes, until the mixture begins to brown or bubble. Remove from oven and set aside.

Filling

With a knife, chop
   4 ounces unsweetened chocolate,
   4 ounces bittersweet chocolate.
Place in microwave-safe bowl with
   1/2 cup whipping cream.
Heat at full power for 30 seconds. Stir. Alternate heating and stirring until the chocolate is all melted. Stir in
   2 Tablespoons strong espresso (or other coffee),
   2 Tablespoons Scotch whiskey.
Set aside.

Add to bowl of food processor, metal blade in place,
   1 pound mascarpone cheese,
   1 cup Mexican sour cream (crema).
Add
   1 cup sugar (but see Notes).
Process until smooth. Add one at a time, and process after each one,
   4 large eggs.
Add chocolate mixture and process until smooth.

Assembly and baking

Spread chocolate mixture evenly over baked crust. Return to oven and bake for about 40 minutes, but begin checking after 25. Cheesecake is done when the areas close to the sides have risen a bit. Remove from oven and cool in the pan.

If you are not serving from the pan, set a pastry board over the top of the pan and invert the pan and the board together. (The crust will be on top.) The cake should be released from the pan and will settle on the cutting board. Remove the pan and then remove the lining of parchment gently from the cake.

Set a second cutting board over the cake and invert the two cutting boards and the cake together. (The crust will be on the bottom again). Gently remove the top cutting board. With a thin knife, cut the cake into 7 x 8 pieces. You may eat any of the filling that adheres to the knife. With a spatula, transfer to your serving dish (or portable cookie box).

Store and serve chilled. Makes 56 small (but rich) quads.

Notes

I used Scharffenberger unsweetened and Trader Joe's Belgian semisweet chocolate, and Trader Joe's cinnamon graham crackers.

Variations and serving suggestions: Chocoaholics: use Oreo cookies instead of graham crackers (suggestion of Barbara Grosz). Add 1 cup (or more) chocolate chips after incorporating chocolate filling (suggestion of Michelle Green). Serve with slightly sweetened whipped cream and slightly sweetened pureed raspberries (frozen okay but thaw before running through food processor). Garnish with bittersweet chocolate, shaved on top of the cooled cakes with a vegetable peeler. Serve with coffee or cognac.

You can adjust the sugar to taste. Start with 1/2 cup (instead of 1 cup) and add more gradually, to taste, after you have incorporated the chocolate mixture. Make sure all the sugar dissolves.

This recipe is based on mocha and chocolate cheesecakes that have appeared in Anna Thomas's Vegetarian Epicure (Volume 2) and the New York Times food section.

© 2005 Richard Waldinger