A rich, creamy chocolate orange cheesecake that combines the bright, citrusy flavor of orange zest and orange flavoring with a luxuriously smooth chocolate filling. This decadent cheesecake has an Oreo cookie crust and is dressed up with a decorative cocoa stencil and crowned with dried oranges. This cheesecake recipe pairs a water bath with a lower temperature bake to ensure no cheesecake cracking occurs.
Whenever I think of orange and chocolate together, I remember the foil wrapped Terry's chocolate oranges made of orange flavored chocolate wedges attached at the middle. You'd whack the orange on the counter to separate all the pieces. While novel, the quality of the chocolate never lived up to my expectations. This orange chocolate cheesecake is my way of capturing all the best parts of the chocolate orange, with none of the lackluster waxy taste.
I've always loved the combination of orange and chocolate. Dried orange slices dipped in dark chocolate, chocolate orange truffles, a simple one layer chocolate orange cake, these dark chocolate blood orange ice cream sandwiches... Juicy sweet bursts of citrus pair so well with the creamy flavor of good chocolate.
This chocolate orange cheesecake recipe has the formal presence for a holiday table, but would be equally welcome in warmer months (perhaps with a generous spoonful of orange liqueur spiked whipped cream). It's incredibly rich, yet zesty and fresh.
FOR THE CHEESECAKE CRUST
- Unsalted butter - Melted butter serves as the binder for the crust. Using unsalted butter allows you to control the total quantity of salt in the recipe. Salt content in salted butter varies from brand to brand.
FOR THE CHOCOLATE ORANGE CHEESECAKE FILLING
- Cream cheese - Cream cheese is the key element that provides the taste, tang and creaminess that we know and love in cheesecake. I use full fat cream cheese for the rich texture and flavor it provides.
- Brown sugar - adds a bit of caramel flavor along with sweetness.
- Granulated sugar - provides sweetness
- Eggs - Provide richness and thickening structure to the cheesecake.
- Sour cream - is added to cheesecake to soften the cream cheese and provide moisture content.
- Vanilla extract - For added flavor.
- Orange flavoring - I use oil based orange flavoring to add an extra boost of orange to the cheesecake filling. Orange oil is concentrated and really helps achieve a powerful citrus burst. I find it to be much more flavorful than orange extract. I often use this specific flavoring.
- Orange zest - Wash your orange and use a microplane or fine toothed grater to zest the orange. Avoid grating the white pith as it adds a bitter taste.
FOR THE GANACHE TOPPING AND COCOA DECORATION:
- Dark chocolate - The ganache topping is made with good quality dark chocolate, the kind you’d eat plain out of the wrapper while standing in the pantry. I use a 72% dark chocolate bar, which is on the darker end. Avoid using chocolate chips, as they often contain fillers intended to prevent them from melting and losing shape, and will impact the texture and consistency.
- Heavy whipping cream - For the ganache, use heavy cream or heavy whipping cream. Do not substitute with milk, half and half, or other similar consistency non-dairy milks. They don't have the fat content required to create a thick ganache.
- Cocoa powder - For creating a pretty pattern on the top of the cheesecake using a stencil. I used natural cocoa powder because I wanted a warmer, slightly more orange - red tone to compliment the oranges. Dutched or alkalized cocoa will be darker in color. Either natural or Dutched cocoa powder is fine. Dust the cheesecake with cocoa powder close to when you'll be serving it so that it doesn't begin to absorb moisture from the cake.
- Dried Orange Slices - Find the recipe for homemade dried orange slices here, complete with the option to dip them in chocolate.
See recipe card for quantities.
Make in advance
It's possible (and quite helpful) to make the cheesecake in advance and add the final touches shortly prior to serving. This will ensure maximum freshness. Here are some details regarding the timing for each element:
- You can make the cheesecake with Oreo crust several days in advance and keep it well wrapped in the refrigerator. You can also freeze the full-fat version of this homemade cheesecake after it is baked and fully cooled. Run a knife around the inside of the springform pan to loosen the cheesecake. Remove the sides of the pan. Wrap the cheesecake and cheesecake pan base carefully with plastic wrap and freeze for up to a month. To defrost the cheesecake, place in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours, or set out on the counter for 2-4 hours.
- Chocolate ganache - I prefer to make the ganache when I'm ready to pour it on the cheesecake. However, you can make it in advance and store it in the refrigerator. Gently warm the ganache over a double boiler or by 15 second increments in the microwave to return it to a just warm enough, pourable consistency.
- If using, add the cocoa powder stencil and dried oranges at most a few hours before serving to ensure that they remain fresh. If applied too early, the cocoa powder could begin to absorb moisture from the ganache and cheesecake. Once you apply the cocoa stencil, you can't wrap the cheesecake as it could mar the surface. You can store it for a few hours unexposed in the refrigerator. I wouldn't leave it uncovered overnight as it will begin to dry out and might start to crack.
- Cream Cheese - If you prefer, you can make a lighter cheesecake by substituting American Neufchatel cheese in place of full fat cream cheese.
- Sour cream is added to cheesecake to soften the cream cheese and provide moisture content. You can substitute full fat Greek yogurt in its place if you'd like.
Note that these two substitutions will lower the fat content and increase the water content of the cheesecake. If you wish to freeze the cheesecake, I recommend sticking with the full fat ingredients recommended in the main recipe.
If you have a decorative stencil on hand at home, you can use it to dust the top of the cheesecake with cocoa powder. If not, consider making one or using regular household items to stand in for a store bought stencil. I used a fine mesh air fryer tray from my countertop oven (similar to this one) to create this stencil. You can also make a design using a metal cooling rack, a piece of lace, a paper doily, or strips of parchment paper laid parallel to each other.
Hint: Take your preferred stencil for a test run by placing it on a piece of parchment paper and dusting the cocoa powder over it. There are several benefits to giving it a try first. You'll have a chance to see if you like the design. You can practice carefully lifting the stencil straight up off of the parchment. After testing a design, you can simply pour the cocoa powder back into the container and reuse it.
A hot water bath provides humidity and steam that helps ensure the delicate, egg-heavy batter of the cheesecake rises evenly and doesn't bake too quickly on the exterior. A water bath, or bain-marie, is a worthwhile step that I would not omit when baking this cheesecake.
In order to cook the cheesecake batter evenly, wrap the springform pan base and sides in aluminum foil. Ensure the foil extends up the sides as high as possible. Place the pan in the oven to bake within a larger pan filled partway with hot water.
Tip: I like to use an 18 inch (46 cm) heavy duty aluminum foil roll when I wrap the bottom of springform pans for water baths. The roll is more than wide enough to cover the base and sides with one piece. This helps avoid possible water entry via foil seams. If you only have a standard 12 inch (30 cm) foil roll, consider adding more than one layer to help ensure the foil layer is watertight.
Before serving, you can freeze the full-fat version of this homemade cheesecake after it is baked and fully cooled. Run a knife around the inside of the springform pan to loosen the cheesecake. Remove the sides of the pan. Wrap the cheesecake and cheesecake pan base carefully with plastic wrap and freeze for up to a month. To defrost the cheesecake, place in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours, or set out on the counter for 2-4 hours.
After serving, you may keep leftovers of this cheesecake in the fridge (wrapped, in an airtight container) for up to a week. If you'd like to keep leftovers longer, slice into individual portions, wrap well, and place in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months.
If you substitute Neufchatel cheese for full fat cream cheese, or Greek yogurt for the sour cream, note that these ingredients have a higher water content. Freezing the cheesecake may impact the texture.
Chocolate Orange CheesecakePrint Recipe Pin Recipe
- 272 grams (24 cookies) Oreo cookies (or similar), including filling
- 57 grams (¼ cup, 2 oz) unsalted butter, melted
CHOCOLATE ORANGE CHEESECAKE FILLING
- 678 grams (24 ounces) cream cheese, full fat, room temperature
- 110 grams (½ cup) brown sugar
- 100 grams (½ cup) granulated sugar
- 120 grams (½ cup) sour cream, full fat
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons orange flavoring (I use culinary orange oil) See ingredient notes in post for details
- 9 grams orange zest (from one large Navel orange)
- 4 large eggs, room temperature, beaten
- 340 grams (12 ounces) dark chocolate, finely chopped (I used 70%)
GANACHE GLAZE AND DECORATION
- 57 grams (2 ounces, ⅓ cup) dark chocolate, finely chopped (I used 72%)
- 105 mL (¼ cup + 3 Tablespoons) heavy whipping cream
- 20 grams (¼ cup) cocoa powder, for dusting over the top
- (optional) dried orange slices for decoration
- Preheat oven to 350° F (177° C, gas mark 4). In a medium bowl, combine Oreo cookie crumbs and melted butter until mixture resembles wet sand. Pour crust mixture into prepared pan and distribute evenly in the base. (This recipe only uses a bottom crust - there is no crust up the side of the pan). Using the bottom of a measuring cup or a smooth bottomed glass, firmly press crust mixture down until compacted and smooth. Bake for 8 minutes. Set aside to cool.
CHOCOLATE ORANGE CHEESECAKE FILLING
- Place a 10 x 14 x 2 inch (25 x 36 x 5 cm) metal baking pan, roasting pan or broiling pan (must be large enough to fit a 9" (23cm) springform pan) on the center rack of the oven and fill with ¾ inch (2 cm) of water.
- Wrap the base of the springform pan with aluminum foil to prevent water entering during baking. Set springform pan aside.
- Preheat oven to 300° F (150° C, Gas Mark 2) with prepared water bath inside.
- Make sure your cream cheese is at room temperature (about 72° F/22° C). It should be soft to the touch, like soft butter. If it's too firm, carefully microwave in 10 second bursts until soft enough. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese with the paddle attachment on medium speed until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.
- Add sugars and beat on medium-low until mixed in. Scrape the bowl again. Add the sour cream, vanilla extract, orange oil and orange zest. Mix on medium-low speed until well combined, scraping down the bowl several times to ensure cream cheese is fully blended into the mixture.
- Add beaten egg mixture and beat on low just until combined. Add melted chocolate and again, beat until just combined. Be sure to scrape the bowl well to ensure all chocolate has been well incorporated. Do not overmix. If you overmix, the cheesecake batter will contain too much air, which can cause bubbles and cracks.
- Pour cheesecake filling on top of baked crust and smooth out with a mini offset spatula. Firmply rap the springform pan on the counter several times to pop any air bubbles that have formed during mixing.
- Place springform pan directly into hot water bath and bake at 300° F for 70 minutes. The cheesecake should be slightly dull on the top, and mostly set. The center should still have a slight wobble. It will continue to bake when removed from the oven.
- Remove from oven and place onto a rack to cool completely. When cool, cover pan (but not cheesecake directly) with foil and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
GANACHE GLAZE AND COCOA DECORATION
- Once cheesecake is fully cooled, remove from the refrigerator. Gently blot up any water condensation that has formed on the cheesecake with a paper towel.
- In a two quart pot, heat cream until almost simmering. Remove from heat and add finely chopped dark chocolate. Let sit for 1 minute, and then gently whisk until all chocolate has melted and no lumps remain. Pour chocolate ganache onto top of cheesecake. Using a mini offset spatula or the back of a spoon, spread the ganache to the edges of the cheesecake but do not let it drip down the sides (unless you're aiming for the drip look, in which case, go ahead!)
- Place cheesecake back in the fridge to help the ganache glaze set. Once set, run a thin knife around the edge of the cheesecake to loosen it from the springform pan. Remove the springform edge.
- With the cheesecake on a work surface, carefully place a decorative stencil on the top of the cheesecake (for this design, I used a fine meshed baking rack from my countertop oven). Put the cocoa powder in a fine mesh sifter and dust the entire cheesecake with a layer of cocoa powder. Lift the stencil straight up off of the cheesecake to reveal the pattern.
- If desired, place dried orange slices (and possibly a fresh mandarin orange with leaves still attached) on the top of the cake as decoration.
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