Gluten Free Mocha Cheesecake
This Gluten Free Mocha Cheesecake has a smooth, creamy cheesecake base on top of a gluten free chocolate sandwich cookie crust, finished with a layer of chocolate ganache. It can be decorated for any occasion or drizzled with caramel sauce for a luxurious dessert.
My mom found a Mocha Cheesecake recipe in a magazine and sent it to me because it was gluten free. I ended up adapting the recipe to make Mini Mocha Cheesecakes, which were so delicious. We loved how creamy the cheesecake layer was. I knew then that I needed to make a full size version. To do that, I decided to add my favorite ganache topping from the Bailey’s Irish Cream Mini Cheesecakes rather than just a simple melted chocolate drizzle. The cheesecake filling is so smooth with the flavors of chocolate and coffee. The crust can be made with regular or gluten free chocolate sandwich cookies (such as Oreos).
This mocha cheesecake has quickly become a favorite in our family, with my daughters often choosing it for their birthday cake. Did you know you can decorate a cheesecake?! I didn’t until my oldest requested a cheesecake for her birthday. I had to get creative quickly!
Prepare the Springform Pan
A springform pan is the best pan to use for cheesecake because the sides open and lift off, making serving much easier than if you had used a round cake pan. I like to add a parchment paper circle to the bottom of the springform pan to make it easy to transfer the baked/chilled cheesecake to a cake plate or serving platter. To do this, you can trace the pan onto parchment paper using a pencil and then cut the parchment slightly smaller than the tracing so it fits in the pan. Grease the sides and bottom of the pan, add the parchment round to the bottom, then grease on top of the parchment.
Make the Crust
To make the crust, mix together the cookie crumbs, sugar, salt and melted butter until well combined.
Press the crumb mixture evenly into the pan. Bake the crust for 10 minutes at 325° then allow to cool completely while you make the filling.
Make the Filling
To make the filling, melt the chocolate in the microwave on 50% power in 30-second intervals, stirring after each interval, until the chocolate is just melted. Set aside to cool.
In a small bowl, whisk together the coffee, espresso powder and vanilla. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese on medium-high speed until smooth. Reduce the speed to low and add the cocoa powder and sugar. Beat in the coffee mixture, then increase the speed. Add in the eggs, one at a time, and then beat in the melted chocolate.
Transfer the batter to the springform pan on top of the baked and cooled crust.
Baking the Cheesecake in a Water Bath
The best way to bake a cheesecake with no cracks is to use a hot water bath or bain-marie. The way I do this is by wrapping the bottom and sides of the springform pan in a single piece of large heavy duty aluminum foil (the long/large size can be found at wholesale stores like Costco or Sam’s Club). You may want to do a double layer if you’re worried about leaks. Place the wrapped pan into a larger baking pan filled halfway with hot water.
Bake the cheesecake for 50 minutes, or until it no longer jiggles in the center when moved. At this point, turn off the oven and prop the oven door open with a wooden spoon. Keep the cheesecake in the oven for an hour. This step, combined with the hot water bath, helps to prevent cracks in your cheesecake. After you remove the cheesecake from the oven, chill it in the refrigerator until you are ready to add the ganache. You can chill the cake for as little as 30 minutes up until the next day before adding the ganache.
Baking the Cheesecake without a Water Bath
Sometimes you may not be concerned if your cheesecake cracks. If you’re covering it with ganache or decorating it, it may not be worth the extra step of the hot water bath. I have skipped the hot water bath when it didn’t matter if my cheesecake cracked. The warm ganache should fill in any cracks, but please be advised that sometimes the cracks are large, so some slices of cheesecake may have quite a bit more ganache than others!
Make the Ganache Topping
To make the ganache, melt the chocolate in the top of a double boiler or in the microwave at 50% power in 30-second intervals until just melted. Use caution not to overheat the chocolate. Meanwhile, bring the heavy cream just to a boil in a small saucepan. Pour the cream over the melted chocolate and use a small silicone spatula to carefully combine. Keep stirring until the ganache comes together into a smooth mixture. Stir in the light corn syrup, if using. The corn syrup gives the ganache a shine. Allow the ganache to cool slightly before adding to the chilled cheesecake.
You have 3 options for adding the ganache to the cheesecake. You can keep the springform ring intact and pour the ganache all the way to edges of the pan. This will create a more rustic ganache edge when you eventually remove the springform (as pictured below).
The second option is to leave the springform on but only spread the ganache enough to leave a small border of cheesecake around the circumference (as pictured below). If you prefer this look, make sure your ganache is a bit cooler when you pour it so it is thicker and will not just run to the sides.
The third option is to remove the springform pan before adding the ganache and carefully pushing the ganache over the edges of the cheesecake to create drips as done in the Bailey’s Irish Cream Mini Cheesecakes.
How to Decorate a Cheesecake
When my oldest requested a cheesecake for her birthday, I was very puzzled as to how I would decorate it to fit her pastel Nutcracker Ballet theme. It then occurred to me that there was no reason I couldn’t decorate a cheesecake the same way I decorate a traditional cake: with vanilla buttercream.
For this Nutcracker birthday cake, I created a cake topper by covering a glass Christmas tree in vanilla buttercream then decorating it with a star shaped Iced Vanilla Shortbread Cookie and royal icing transfers. I added snowflake royal icing transfers to other areas of the cake.
For my next daughter’s birthday, I made a mocha cheesecake completely covered in vanilla buttercream for a Wizard of Oz birthday theme.
Looking for More Cheesecake Recipes?
Check out these other cheesecake recipes:
Mini Mocha Cheesecakes
Bailey’s Irish Cream Mini Cheesecakes
Bailey’s Irish Cream Cheesecake
Mini Hot Chocolate Cheesecakes
Mini Red Velvet Cheesecakes
Red Velvet Cheesecake
Red Velvet Brownies with Cheesecake Swirl
Mini Pina Colada Cheesecakes
Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes
Pumpkin Spice Magic Bar Minis
Black Bottom Caramel Pumpkin Cheesecakes
Chocolate Cheesecakes for Two
Ambrosia Pie – Tippin’s Copycat
Cherry Chocolate Cheesecake Bundt Cake
Cheesecake Factory Godiva Chocolate Cheesecake
Chocolate Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars
Pumpkin Chocolate Cheesecake Bars
S’mores Cheesecake Bars
- 9-inch springform pan
- 10-inch or larger baking pan
- aluminum foil
- parchment paper
- nonstick baking spray (such as Pam for Baking)
For the Crust:
- 2 cups chocolate sandwich cookie crumbs (such as Oreos, regular or gluten free, from about 8 ounces of cookies)
- 4 tablespoons butter (melted)
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
For the Filling:
- 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate (such as Ghirardelli chips or bars, chopped)
- 1/4 cup cold strong coffee
- 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 8-ounce packages cream cheese (softened)
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
- 1 cup sugar
- 4 eggs
For the Ganache:
- 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate (coarsely chopped, or Ghirardelli 60% cacao chips)
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 2 teaspoons light corn syrup (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 325°F.
- To prepare the pan, trace the circumference of the pan onto parchment paper and cut the circle out slightly smaller than the tracing.
- Spray the bottom of the springform with baking spray, then place the parchment circle on top. Smooth it down. Spray the top of the parchment and the sides of the pan with baking spray.
Make the Crust:
- In a medium bowl, combine the cookie crumbs, melted butter, sugar and salt. Press the crumbs into the bottom of the springform pan in an even layer that comes slightly up the sides of the pan.
- Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely while you prepare the filling.
Make the Filling:
- Microwave chocolate in a small heat-proof bowl on high in 30-second intervals, stirring after each interval until chocolate is mostly melted. Set aside to let cool.
- In a small bowl or measuring cup, stir together coffee, espresso powder and vanilla. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a mixer, beat cream cheese on medium-high speed until smooth.
- Reduce speed to low and add cocoa and sugar, scraping down bowl as needed. Beat in coffee mixture and increase speed to medium. Add the eggs one at a time, beating in between and scraping bowl when necessary. Beat in melted chocolate until just mixed.
- Transfer batter on top of cooled crust. Carefully wrap bottom and sides of springform in aluminum foil and place pan in a larger baking pan filled halfway with water. This water bath step helps prevent cracks in the cheesecake.
- Bake cheesecake for approximately 50 minutes or until it no longer jiggles in the center.
- Turn the oven off and prop the oven door open with a wooden spoon. Keep the cheesecake in place for 1 hour.
- Loosen the sides of the pan from the cheesecake by running a small icing spatula or knife around the perimeter. Refrigerate cheesecake until ready to prepare the ganache.
Make the Ganache:
- Place the chocolate in the top of a double boiler and melt above simmering water. Alternatively, use a microwave to melt, being careful to heat on 50% power and for short amounts of time, stirring often. The chocolate should be just melted and only warm, not hot.
- Bring the cream to a boil in a small saucepan. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and stir very gently with a rubber spatula until the mixture is smooth and shiny. Stir in the corn syrup. Allow ganache to cool slightly to thicken.
- If you prefer a cheesecake with clean sides, keep the springform ring intact and pour ganache in center of cake, smoothing out toward edges with a small offset spatula. If you prefer drips down the sides of the cake, loosen springform ring once again from perimeter of cake, then carefully remove the ring before pouring the ganache in the center. Use a small offset spatula to guide the ganache to the edges so it carefully drips down the sides.
- Refrigerate cake until ready to serve.