Sunday, 6 July 2014

Cookies and Cream Cheesecake with Dark Chocolate Mousse and Cacao Nibs - Phoebe's 23rd Birthday Cake

This cake answered a lot of questions for me.

One: I now have a fail-safe chocolate mousse recipe that I know can survive a night in the fridge without losing any textural goodness.

Two: I am one step closer to replacing all gelatine in baking with non-animal ingredients.

Three: Continental cheesecake, where have you been all my life.

Phoebe is my housemate, which is a very special relationship indeed. She's a sweetheart and is always excited to try anything I've made. She can turn it out herself, banana muffins, chocolate mousse cake and pancakes erry day.

Her birthday involved me shotting a lot of Fireball whiskey, and coming home drunk to this cake in the fridge was luxurious.

What You Need:
For the cheesecake

250g plain chocolate biscuits
150g butter

1 teaspoon agar agar powder
360g Neufchatel or other cream cheese
300ml double cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
110g caster sugar
180g white chocolate
150g Oreos

For the mousse (adapted from Samantha Aquim's recipe available here)

70g intensely dark chocolate (I used 90% cocoa solids)
2 egg whites
pinch of salt
30g caster sugar
195ml double cream
1/2 cup cacao nibs

The Cheesecake

Line the base of a springform baking tin with baking paper.

Process the plain chocolate biscuits until they resemble breadcrumbs, then add the melted butter and briefly process to mix.

Press this mixture evenly over the base of the mixture. I brought my base up the sides of the cheesecake, which I did not find necessary for stability, so would leave it to just the base next time. This is up to you though, and how much you like cheesecake base. Leave to set in fridge.

Process together cream cheese, cream, vanilla and sugar.

Mix agar agar powder with a half a cup of water in a saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring until agar is completely dissolved.

Melt white chocolate in the microwave, using short bursts on a low heat setting.

Add both the agar and the melted white chocolate to the cream mixture, and process until smooth and well combined.

Pour mixture over biscuit base and leave to set int he fridge for at least an hour.

The Mousse

Melt chocolate in microwave, using short bursts on a low setting until completely melted. Leave to cool.

In a large bowl, whisk egg whites with caster sugar and a pinch of salt. You want the mixture to be triple the size it was to begin with, so keep whisking (using a handheld beater if you cramp easily) until it is all large and fluffy and stiff.

Mix cream into melted chocolate briefly, just to bring the temperature of the chocolate down. Add to the egg whites, slowly folding together until just combined.

Stir in the cacao nibs, adding more or less to your taste for crunch and bitterness. I knew the cheesecake would need a counterbalance in sweetness so used a fair bit, but feel free to use them more sparsely or even just sprinkle them on top for decoration.

Leave mousse to set in fridge for at least an hour.


When cheesecake and mousse are set, spread the mousse over the top of the cheesecake whilst it is still in the springform pan. You can make it really smooth on top with a spatula and because it is wuite a stable mousse, I was able to decorate on top of it with white chocolate ganache.

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