Jordan: Earlier this month, a coworker whose birthday is right after mine asked what my birthday cake plans were because if our family’s everyday cake game was strong, surely our birthday cake game was over the top. She was appalled when I responded that we don’t really… do… birthday cake?
Kitra: Yeah, it’s definitely not how most of us celebrate. Our dad gets pie, I usually opt for Eton mess, and Jordan… Jordan is all cheesecake.
I can’t recall when the birthday cheesecakes started, but once it got going, it’s been pretty regular. Of the years when we’ve actually gathered as a family and bothered to do a cake for my birthday, they’ve just about all been cheesecake.
But this isn’t *cake* month. That’s everything else. This is PIE MONTH.
Pie month! Pie month! Pie month!
And I’ve been eagerly awaiting the release of the cookbook event of the decade, THE BOOK ON PIE. Which, it turns out, had a Cheesecake! Pie! Erin McDowell has a brain that I want to live inside of and eat everything that it creates.
Kitra has been sending me excited snapchats from the book and truly, if you can imagine it then Erin McDowell probably has made a pie out of it. The whole thing is nothing but brilliant mashups and genius tricks.
It’s so long and detailed that I bruised my leg with the corner reading it, and what a worthwhile bruise it is.
(This is really only unusual for Kitra in that she knows where this bruise came from. She usually has at least a dozen mystery bruises on her legs.)
In my first pass of the book alone, I marked 16 recipes for Thanksgiving consideration, immediate consumption, things I absolutely must make when they’re in season, and in one case, Jordan’s Birthday.
This is a very good cheesecake filling inside a chocolate cookie pie crust. It’s thinner—and thus less overwhelming—than a normal cheesecake, and while I love a crumb crust, the solid crust means you can pick it up and eat it like a slice of pizza if you so desire.
I do. But also I ate most of the slices I came home with standing in front of my open refrigerator straight out of the container because it was delicious and I was too tired to eat anything else.
The topping is a nice raspberry coulis, which is tart and bright enough to balance out the heavier cake. That said, it would also be delicious without if you want something a little more subdued; I actually scraped the coulis layer off of most of my leftovers to focus on a more chocolatey cheesecake experience.
Look, I still ate the coulis. I just ate it first. I’m not a monster.
Truly I am baffled, because you are not the chocolate member of the family. But either way, the topping is delicious and I would eat it with a spoon so I get it I guess.
My birthday cheesecake, my rules.
Chocolate-Swirled Cheesecake Pie
From The Book on Pie by Erin McDowell
McDowell’s book is set up so that you can mix-and-match various crusts, fillings, and toppings, so feel free to do something different with the crust or topping. You can also omit the step of adding chocolate into part of the batter. (The swirl is actually one of many variations on the recipe that she offers in the book.)
Our cheesecake didn’t really marble properly because Kitra had to put the filling in the fridge for a while while she got a haircut, so the chocolate mix was quite thick. If you make it as instructed below, yours will probably look a bit more marbled and less layered.
The top of our cheesecake cracked as it cooled. Kitra’s pro tip for this: Make a quick ganache by heating a small amount of cream, then adding chocolate chips until the cream just covers them. Let melt, then whisk it all together. Spoon into the crack in the cheesecake and rest assured that the topping will hide the whole thing. Eat any leftover ganache with graham crackers or a spoon.
We made the crust with gluten-free flour and it was a bit crumbly but generally fine. We also used black cocoa powder for both the crust and the filling, which gives it a nice Oreo-like flavor, but regular cocoa is just fine too.
Chocolate Cookie Crust
- ½ cup (4 oz) unsalted butter, softened
- ¼ cup (50g) sugar
- 1 egg white
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1¼ cups (150g) flour
- ⅓ cup (28g) cocoa powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder
Use an electric mixer to cream the butter and sugar until smooth, 2-3 minutes. Add the egg white and vanilla and mix to combine, scraping down the sides as needed. Add the flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking powder and mix on low speed until fully incorporated. Form the dough into a rough disc, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Once chilled, place the dough between two large, very lightly floured pieces of parchment paper. Roll it out into a rough circle about ¼ inch thick. Transfer the dough to a pie pan and trim the excess dough, leaving a straight edge at the lip of the pan. Save any extra dough for patching holes later. Use a fork to make small holes all over the surface of the crust, then pop the whole thing in the freezer until firm (5-10 minutes).
Preheat your oven to 350°. Once the crust is firm, bake for 15 minutes, then remove from the oven to cool fully. (Since this is a chocolate crust, you won’t be able to see when it’s done, so just trust the timing.)
- 16 oz (2 bricks) cream cheese, very soft
- 1 cup (200g) sugar
- 4 eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ⅓ cup (28g) cocoa powder
- Chocolate cookie crust, parbaked as above and cooled
Preheat your oven to 325°. If you have a pizza stone or baking steel, go ahead and put that in as well.
Using an electric mixer (no need to use a different bowl than the crust as long as you wipe it out), beat the cream cheese and sugar on medium-low until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, beating on medium-low until combined and scraping down the sides of the bowl between each. Add the vanilla, heavy cream, and salt and beat until it’s all combined.
Scoop ¾ cup (180g) of the mixture into a medium bowl. Whisk in cocoa powder.
Pour the plain cream cheese mix into the crust. Gently pour or spoon the chocolate mixture on top and use the edge of a knife or a toothpick to create swirls with the filling.
Bake 60 to 70 minutes, until the center of the cheesecake still jiggles slightly when you shake the pan. Leave the cheesecake in the oven but turn the oven off and prop the oven door open. Let the cheesecake cool in the oven for 2 hours. Remove and then cool fully in the fridge, at least 6 hours, before spreading with the topping (below) and serving.
- 18 oz (510g) raspberries, frozen and thawed or fresh
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- ½ cup (100g) sugar, divided
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
In a small pot, combine the raspberries, lemon juice, and ¼ cup (50g) sugar. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally, and cook for 10-12 minutes until the raspberries have completely broken down.
In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining ¼ cup (50g) sugar and cornstarch.
Place a fine mesh strainer over a small-to-medium bowl and strain the raspberry mixture; you’ll be left with about 1 cup of juices and a lot of solids. You can either discard the solids or set them aside for something else. (They work well swirled into yogurt for breakfast.)
Return the strained juice to the saucepan along with the sugar/cornstarch mixture and cook over low heat, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula or spoon, until the whole mixture starts to thicken. About a minute after it comes to a simmer, you should be able to drag your spatula through the center and leave a clear trail that takes a moment to fill in again. Remove from heat, pour into a bowl or container, and chill completely in the fridge.
When the coulis and cheesecake are both cool, you can simply spoon the coulis on top of the cheesecake and gently spread it to the edges.