Okay, so this is decadent. A layer of creamy cheesecake sandwiched between two layers of rich black chocolate cake, swathed in a salted caramel butter cream, topped with chocolate ganache and drizzled with more caramel.

You are either completely repulsed by this Double-Quarter-Pounder of a cake or you definitely want at least one bite. Luckily everyone who has tried a piece has loved it. But, you only need a sliver to satisfy your Krystal Kraving ’cause this is rich.

This may look like a lot of moving pieces, but like the Gateau St. Honoré it can (and should) be done in stages. We make the cheesecake, chocolate cakes (and caramel sauce if necessary) the day before we plan to serve – then it’s just putting it all together.

Ingredients

Creamy Cheesecake

  • 1 pound (2 packages) cream cheese (not lite cream cheese – this is not the time to fret about calories)
  • 5 ounces granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2.5 ounces regular (not light) sour cream (again, this is not a time to fret about calories)
  • â…“ cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Black Chocolate Cake

  • 7½ ounces all-purpose flour
  • 14 ounces granulated sugar
  • 1½ ounces black cocoa powder
  • ¾ ounce dutch process cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk, shaken before measuring
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 extra-large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup fresh strong hot coffee

Easy Peasy Caramel Sauce

  • 7½ ounces light or dark brown sugar (dark brown sugar will make a darker sauce)
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

Caramel Frosting

  • 8 ounces butter (2 sticks)
  • 1 pound powdered sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons milk
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup prepared Easy Peasy Caramel Sauce
  • Flake sea salt for finishing the cake (we prefer Maldon)

Chocolate Ganache

  • 8 ounces high-quality semi-sweet chocolate; chopped into small pieces (don’t use chocolate chips: they have stabilizers)
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder (we use Medaglio D’Oro)

Hardware

  • 9” springform pan
  • (2) 9” cake pans (preferably 3” deep)
  • Large roasting pan (for water bath)
  • Parchment paper for lining pans
  • Wide aluminium foil to protect cheesecake during baking
  • Kitchen scale (as always)

Directions

Easy Peasy Caramel Sauce

  1. Mix brown sugar, butter, cream and salt in a heavy saucepan over medium-low heat.
Easy Peasy Caramel Ingredients

Easy Peasy Caramel Ingredients

  1. Cook, stirring gently with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula, for ~5-7 minutes until sauce begins to thicken.
  2. Add vanilla extract and cook another minute or so to thicken a little more.
  3. Leaving the saucepan on the stovetop, turn the hear off and let sauce cool to about room temperature stirring every now and then.
  4. Transfer to air-tight container and refrigerate until needed.
Boiling Easy Peasy Caramel

Boiling Easy Peasy Caramel

Caramel keeps well in the refrigerator and we almost always have a pint jar in the fridge. Bring to room temperature before use – about 2 hours.

Creamy Water-Bath Cheesecake

Prep Work

Have all ingredients at room temperature

Cheesecake Ingredients

Cheesecake Ingredients

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F.
  2. Place a large roasting pan on the next-to-bottom rack in your oven. Add ~1 inch water and slide into oven.
  3. Prepare your kettle or teapot with another quart of water. I turn my kettle on when I start prepping the cheesecake and it takes no time to get it back to a boil when I’m ready to pop the cheesecake into the oven.
  4. Butter bottom of springform pan and cover with parchment paper. Butter parchment and sides of springform pan.
  5. Flip pan upside down and cover with 1 layer of wide aluminium foil. Rotate 90° and cover with second layer of foil. Press foil on sides of pan to form a relatively tight (though crinkly) wrap. Flip pan and crimp/roll excess down but leave foil above edge of pan. Set prepared pan aside in a cool spot.
  6. Mix room temperature cream cheese, salt and granulated sugar with paddle attachment until creamy – about 3 minutes.
  7. Add eggs one at a time beating well after each addition. Scrape down bowl as necessary.
  8. Add sour cream, heavy cream and vanilla extract. Mix well to ensure consistency. Scrape down bowl as necessary. Don’t mix too fast or you’ll whip air into your cheesecake.
  9. Scrape mixture into prepared springform pan.
Cheesecake in Pan

Cheesecake in Pan

  1. Turn your kettle on and bring the water back to a boil.
  2. Place springform pan in center of roasting pan (do not remove pan from oven – just slide the rack out). Pour boiling water (carefully so you don’t get water in the foil or on the cheesecake) until water is half-way up the springform pan.
  3. Bake 45 minutes.
  4. Turn oven off without opening door and leave cheesecake in oven for another 30 minutes. Remove cheesecake from roasting pan and place on towel. Remove foil and place spingform pan on a towel to cool slightly. (The cheesecake will leak butterfat for a few minutes.)
  5. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to assemble the cake. (It’s a good idea to keep it on a plate or towel since it may continue to leak butterfat for a bit.)

If you make this the day you want to serve put the cheesecake (in the pan) in the freezer for up to 2 hours. Transfer to refrigerator until ready to assemble.

Black Chocolate Cake

Prep Work

Bring eggs and buttermilk to room temperature

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Butter cake pans, line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans.
Black Chocolate Cake Ingredients

Black Chocolate Cake Ingredients

  1. Combine dry ingredients in bowl of stand mixer.
  2. Combine eggs, oil, buttermilk and vanilla in another bowl. Whisk to combine well.
  3. Turn mixer on low speed and slowly add wet ingredients just until combined.
  4. Slowly add hot coffee and mix just until combined. Turn mixer off, scrape bowl and mix with spatula to remove any lumps.
Add Hot Coffee

Add Hot Coffee

  1. Divide into cake pans.
  2. Bake 35 minutes. Test with cake tester in center for done-ness.
  3. Remove to a cooling rack and let cool in the pans for 30 minutes.
  4. Run a knife around the edges, invert onto cooling racks, remove parchment and allow to completely cool.

I use a scale to measure the pan fills as close to the same as possible since the cakes & cheesecake end up about the same thickness and the uniformity is visually appealing.

Weigh Pans for Accuracy

Weigh Pans for Accuracy

Caramel Frosting

  1. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment beat room temperature butter until light and fluffy – about 3 minutes.
  2. Turn mixer off, add confectioners’ sugar, milk, salt and ½ cup of Easy Peasy Caramel Sauce.
  3. Starting VERY SLOWLY bring mixer to medium speed and mix until very light, soft and creamy.
  4. Cover with plastic wrap until ready to begin assembly.

Begin assembling the cake

Frosting Ingredients

Frosting Ingredients

  1. Run a knife around the edge of the springform pan holding the cheesecake. Leave outer ring in place.
  2. Center one of your Black Chocolate Cake layers on top of the cheesecake in the springform pan.
  3. Spread about 2 tablespoons frosting on top of the chocolate layer (on top of the cheesecake).
  4. Center your cake round or cake platter over the top of the cake/cheesecake tower. I have to squat down to peek and use my fingers to guesstimate for this step. (Don’t fret – you can wiggle the cake just a little when it’s flipped.)
  5. Slide your hand under the base of the springform pan, and lifting the cake/cheesecake and serving platter as a single assembly, flip the entire thing over. Place it on the counter. This is when you should wiggle the cake around a bit to get it centered.
  6. Pop open the spring clasp and remove the ring by pulling straight up. Remove the springform pan base and parchment paper. Center remaining Black Chocolate Cake layer on top of cheesecake.
  7. Cover top and sides of cake with Caramel Frosting.
  8. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Frost the Cake

Frost the Cake

Bring Easy Peasy Caramel Sauce to room temperature

Prepare Ganache

Have all ingredients at room temperature

These times work for our microwave (1000 watts). You may need to adjust based on your microwave power.

  1. Combine chocolate, heavy cream, and instant coffee in a microwave safe bowl.
  2. Microwave for 45 seconds
  3. Stir to combine.
  4. Microwave 10 more seconds and stir again. There may be small unmelted chips of chocolate: just give a quick couple of stirs and these should melt.
  5. If there are still big chunks continue microwaving in 10 second bursts and stirring. Be careful not to get the ganache too hot or it will break and be lumpy.

Finish cake

  1. Remove frosted cake from refrigerator. Pour warm ganache in center of top and spread with an offset spatula until it just begins to run down the side.
  2. Refrigerate 10 minutes to set ganache.
  3. Remove cake from refrigerator and drizzle with caramel sauce. Sprinkle lightly with flake sea salt.
  4. Refrigerate until about two hours before ready to serve. Let come to room temperature before serving.
Cheesecake Black Chocolate Salted Caramel Cake

Cheesecake Black Chocolate Salted Caramel Cake