layered mocha cheesecake

Last Friday at 3 pm, when we had dinner plans at 6, I decided it had been too long since I’d gotten myself into a right mess of a baking project and decided to make my husband a cheesecake for his birthday — which we were already 14 hours into. I’d been dawdling because despite having 11 cheesecake recipes on this site, I find cooking things I’ve already made before boring, and was working up the courage to tackle a harebrained idea for a cheesecake that had thin stacked layers.

made it in a food processorpar-baked crustseasiest cheesecake batterflavoringsespresso batterchocolate batter

[Does Deb have a thing for thin stacked cakes? I don’t know. Judge for yourself.]

[I also decided to share it on Instagram Stories because your comments always crack me up when I’m elbows-deep in my latest terrible idea.]

baked!stack the two sheetstrim edgesdivide then stackhelps smooth the sidesa little extra chocolate on top

While most cheesecakes have crumb crusts, I wanted something thinner and more sturdy for stacking purposes, so I made wafer cookies, hoping to press the dough raw into thin layers to line the pans. It didn’t work (they just couldn’t be stretched enough with fingertips) so I rolled them out between two sheets of parchment (as we do here), froze them for 5 minutes so they’d be firm, and then lined the baking pans with them. It’s definitely an annoying step but I figured I wasn’t going to write up this recipe (because it was going to flop) so I only had my own complaining (which was significant) to deal with.

From there, however, things went surprisingly smoothly. While the wafer crusts baked, I made the cheesecake base I like so much here, divided the batter, mixed melted chocolate into one, instant espresso into the other, baked them quickly, (bakers who care about technique, cover your ears) shoved them into the freezer to cool them down really fast because it was like 5pm by now and then carved up and stacked and trimmed the layers and then whoa. I mean, I didn’t think the cake was going to taste terrible or anything (see also: cheesecake, buttery wafer cookies, chocolate, coffee) but I didn’t think it was going to be so ridiculously handsome. How fitting (aw).

layered mocha cheesecake

As this site approaches its 14th (!) year of churning out wordy, full-color food content, I want to tell you something. Every on-a-whim kitchen experiment only goes one of two ways: it’s either heavily photographed and well-documented and ends up being a bomb, or I take no photos or photos and it turns out a freak favorite. This was the latter. So, this week, I made this entire crazy cake again and took pictures and wrote it down. For you. No seriously, come pick it up. We are way over our cheesecake quota for the month and it’s just not safe for it — or us — here.

layered mocha cheesecake


One year ago: Fried Rice with Zucchini, Tomatoes and Parmesan
Two years ago: Chile-Lime Melon Salad and Chocolate Peanut Butter Icebox Cake
Three years ago: Frozen Hot Chocolate
Four years ago: Cold Noodles with Miso, Lime, and Ginger, Apricot Pistachio Squares and Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake
Five years ago: Strawberry Lime and Black Pepper Popsicles and Kale Salad with Pecorino and Walnuts
Six years ago: My Favorite Brownies
Seven years ago: Hazelnut Plum Crumb Tart
Eight years ago: Everyday Chocolate Cake, Zucchini and Almond Pasta Salad and Raspberry Limeade Slushies
Nine years ago: Asparagus with Chorizo and Croutons, Sour Cherry Slab Pie and Cantaloupe Salsa
Ten years ago: Blueberry Crumb Bars, Napa Cabbage Salad with Buttermilk Dressing, Key Lime Meltaways and Grilled Eggplant with Caponata Salsa
Eleven years ago: Brownie Mosaic Cheesecake

And for the other side of the world:
Six Months Ago: Korean Braised Short Ribs
1.5 Years Ago: Small Batch Tiramisu
2.5 Years Ago: Miso Black Sesame Caramel Corn and Hot and Sour Soup
3.5 Years Ago: Chocolate Oat Crumble and Oven-Braised Beef with Tomatoes and Garlic
4.5 Years Ago: Chocolate Hazelnut Linzer Hearts and Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake

Layered Mocha Cheesecake

  • Servings: 10
  • Print

The wafers here are the same we use for this icebox cake. They’re adapted from King Arthur Flour.

  • 1 1/2 cups (195 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup (20 grams) Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup (20 grams) black cocoa powder (just use more Dutched cocoa powder if you don’t have it)
  • 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea or table salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup (115 grams) unsalted butter, cold is fine if using a food processor
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
  • Cheesecake
  • 1 1/2 pounds (3 8-ounce packages) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup (60 grams) sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
  • 4 ounces (115 grams) semi- or bittersweet chocolate, chopped, or chips (2/3 cup), (melted and cooled slightly
  • 2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
  • 1 teaspoon molasses
  • To finish
  • 3 ounces semi- or bittersweet chocolate, chopped, or chips (1/2 cup)
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons (15 to 20 ml) heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) corn syrup (optional, but makes it glossier)
  • 1 tablespoon black cocoa powder
  • Gold dragees, if you wish

Prepare pans: Line two 9×13 cake pans or quarter-sheet pans (what I use) with foil. You really don’t want this foil to tear; a trick I like is to press it over the outside of the cake pan first to mold the shape of the foil. Then, when you flip it over and line the inside, it’s easier to press tightly against the walls without tearing. Lightly coat the foil with nonstick cooking spray. Line the bottom of the pan, on top of the foil, with a fitted rectangle of parchment paper. While it’s not absolutely necessary, consider it a layer of security that makes it easier to move your cheesecake layers later.

Heat oven: To 350°F.

Make wafers:

…in food processor: Combine flour, cocoa powders, sugar, salt, and baking powder in the work bowl of food processor, pulsing until mixed. Cut butter into chunks and drop into work bowl; run machine until butter disappears into mixture, which will be powdery. Add egg and vanilla and run machine until the dough begins to clump/ball together.

…with an electric mixer: Beat butter and sugar together until combined. Add egg and vanilla and beat until smooth. Add baking powder, salt and cocoa and beat until combined. Add flour and mix just until it disappears.

Shape wafers: Roll dough between 2 large pieces of parchment paper until very, very thin and roughly the size of a half-sheet pan (13×18 inches). Slide onto board, the back of a baking sheet, or large cutting board (parchment paper and all) and place in freezer for 5 minutes, until firm. Once firm, peel back top piece of parchment paper (it should now come off cleanly, pull it back slowly), then lay it loosely back on the sheet of dough. Flip the sheet over and do the same (gently, slowly peel back the second parchment sheet) until the dough is now loose between them.

You can use the rectangles of parchment from the bottom of your baking pans to give you an idea of the sizes you’ll need for each wafer base, but you basically want to cut the sheet of dough in half. Carefully lift each dough halves into a prepared pan. Patch it where needed so that it fully covers the bottom, pressing it with your fingertips into an even layer, and out to the edges if it fell short. It’s fine if it goes up the sides a little — we’ll trim them after it bakes.

Bake wafers: For 10 minutes — they’ll be mostly, but not fully, baked. [Get started on the cheesecake batter while they bake.] Once the wafers are done, if you have any wafer edges that went up the sides of the pan, gently cut them away, which should be easy when they’re hot, but be careful not to cut through the foil. Leave oven on. Enjoy your wafer snacks.

Make cheesecake batter:

…in a food processor: (Yes, this really works.) Wipe the food processor you used for the wafer layer out so that no crumbs remain. Place sugar, then cream cheeses into the work bowl and blend until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, blending between each, then sour cream and vanilla, blending until smooth. Scrape down bowl and blend another few seconds until smooth.

… with an electric mixer: Beat cream cheese with sugar until fluffy, then beat in eggs, one at a time, until thoroughly mixed, scraping down the sides and bottom of your bowl between each addition. Beat in sour cream and vanilla.

Both methods: Divide cheesecake batter in half, into two bowls. On my scale, each half weighed 565 grams. (I’m sorry I didn’t measure it in cups. Next time!) Slowly drizzle melted chocolate into first half, whisking until fully smooth. Pour batter into first wafer pan — it’s totally fine if it’s still warm/hot from parbaking.

Add espresso powder and molasses (which makes the color magically coffee-like) to the second bowl and whisk until smooth. Pour second half of batter into second prepared pan.

Bake cheesecakes: Bake both pans at the same time, rotating them mid-way because few oven racks are perfectly level, for 15 to 18 minutes, until cheesecake is set but slightly jiggly.

Cool cheesecakes completely: I am always in a rush and let them rest at room temperature on a rack for 5 minutes and then put them in the freezer to quick cool (this takes 15 to 25 minutes, depending on the freezer). You can also cool it over a couple hours in the fridge.

Assemble your layered cheesecake: When cheesecakes are fully cool, carefully pull the foil sling lining the pan onto your counter, taking the cheesecake with it. Gently pull the foil away from the sides of the cheesecakes so that their sides are fully exposed. Next, you want to remove the parchment paper under your coffee cheesecake layer. Use a thin, long offset spatula to run it around under the wafer layer, making sure it isn’t sticking in any places. Slide the parchment paper out carefully. (Usually you would invert your cake layer onto a rack here to remove the parchment, but I don’t think this is a great idea with soft cheesecake!)

Here is the scariest part: Gently begin lifting your coffee cheesecake from the edges with your fingertips until you can slide both hands underneath it, palms up, fingers spread for maximum support. Give it a practice lift up a half-inch, then inch, before taking a deep breath and moving it quickly on top of your chocolate cheesecake layer. The first time, mine broke. I moved the pieces back into place. It was far from perfect but nobody could tell by the time it was assembled.

Dip a sharp serrated knife in hot water — this is the only thing that gives it a passably smooth edge, trust me — and trim the sides of the cheesecake block so that they’re even. Wipe the knife with a towel and dip it again in water between each cut — trust me. Using the same wipe-then-dip knife method every time you cut into this cheesecake, including when you serve it.

Cut your cheesecake block into 3 equal rectangles. Once you’re done trimming, your cheesecake is usually about 7×11 inches and you want to cut it along the longer side, so each third is going to be 3 2/3 inches, but I highly recommend you use a ruler and not eyeball this. Once again, use a thin spatula to carefully separate the bottom layer of the cheesecake block from its parchment paper (you haven’t done this yet for the chocolate layer) before using your hands to lift and stack thirds of the cake into a 6-layer brick-shaped cheesecake. As you’re lifting, if you notice that your cheesecake is thicker on one side than the other (this totally happens due to aforementioned uneven oven racks and is more noticeable because the cake is so thin), simply turn your layer around so that the final stack is relatively flat.

Trim the edges again if needed, so that they are smooth. To smooth them further, I found I could press a piece of parchment paper against each side and gently peel it back (see 12th photo).

To finish: (You’re at the finish line!) Melt chocolate, 3 tablespoons of the cream, and corn syrup together and then whisk until smooth. Whisk in cocoa powder until smooth. I’m using black cocoa here to darken the color of the glaze so it looks better with the cheesecake. You want your final glaze to be thick but pourable. Add the last tablespoon of cream if needed to achieve this. Pour over top of cheesecake and use an spatula to smooth it and also push some over the edges for a drippy effect. Finish with sprinkles and refrigerate until needed.

To serve: Once again, a wet serrated knife makes the cleanest cuts. Thin slices are best because cheesecake is so rich. Leftovers keep in the fridge almost *too* well, heh.

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150 comments on layered mocha cheesecake

  1. sallyt

    SO impressed. I have a special thing for rectangular desserts – tarts, cakes, etc. I’m guessing in a pinch I could use the Famous Chocolate Wafers…?


    Deb, I cant’ imagine I will ever make this cake even though I am drooling over the ingredients and the photos. I am duly impressed that a) you even thought up this recipe and b) you pulled it off for the Birthday Boy in less than 3 hours and c) you recreated it in all it’s glory less than a week later. I wish you lived next door to us.

    1. Amy

      Yes, be honest, Deb: do your neighbors just adore you? Do you hear them quietly squabbling in the hallway, hoping you’ll accidentally open the door with leftovers to share?

      1. deb

        I don’t know my neighbors very well, except one, but she doesn’t eat carbs. But my husband’s coworkers got the second cake today. I hear they hated it. :)

          1. Bentley

            This was delicious! I have been scheming to make this when I don’t have to hear leftovers calling me and I finally found an excuse. I did find the wafers too crumbly to roll but that made it easy to press in so no loss. Don’t skip the parchment! I won’t next time,, I found it very nerve-wracking to make sure I didn’t leave any minute ripped foil pieces stuck in between layers. And I might try semi-freezing it all as suggested by someone above because I got a tad sloppy during assembly. But overall, a smashing success!

            1. Jill

              I had a problem with the crust. I thought I didn’t use enough butter, but I followed the recipe exactly as written. It was very crumbly.

        1. Avra

          I had to read the instructions several times – not sure what was confusing however the results were amazing presentation beautiful and of course delicious

  3. Elaine

    This is absolutely beautiful! I can’t imagine I’d ever make it either, because I hate both the taste and smell of coffee, and I don’t much like chocolate either. But it gives me some great ideas for other flavors to make a gorgeous layered cheesecake. Thank you!

      1. Allie S

        I just made it with Gluten Free Flour- it is a bit grainy but still very tasty. Pretty standard for GF flours. It was hard to roll out as thin though.

  4. MV

    Do you think this could be made with egg replacer or an egg substitute? I eat everything but am newly dating someone who can’t have eggs at all and my baking flexibility is being challenged and how else can I show that I care if I can’t bake?! Heh heh.

    1. deb

      There are probably vegan cheesecake recipes out there worth checking out, but off the top of my head, my feeling is that this is not a project I’d try out an egg replacer on without maybe auditioning it at a smaller scale. A cheesecake is essentially a baked custard cake, where most of the structure comes from the eggs, so it might be less forgiving than a banana bread or simple cookie might be.

    2. Kate

      According to the interwebs, aquafaba will successfully replace eggs. I haven’t done this, but there seems to be a lot of evidence

      1. Lil

        I‘d say use an egg replacement for the wafers but Go Full on gelatin– or agar–set for the cheese cake filling. I don‘t think it will set otherwise.

  5. Laura

    The timing for this is impeccable. I’ve been trying to find inspiration for my kiddos first birthday cake next month for our Hoot Owl themed party (

    I was thinking that I could do this but in a square and put the finishing chocolate on the top and one side to look like a book – and then figure out a way to illustrate the cover of the book ontop. Do you think I’m nuts to try to lift square layers? I’m thinking 10x10ish?

    1. Sonia

      This larger sized cake crossed my mind too. I haven’t tried this yet, but I’m guessing you could try cutting each layer to approximately the correct size, and putting them in the freezer just to harden them enough to make them easier to lift.

      1. Laura

        I ended up doubling the recipe and doing roughly 8×8 squares and it worked out beautifully. My mom came over to help me assemble the cake so we had two sets of hands and it worked well. I used two long flat spatulas to lift and had no issues at all.

  6. Pam

    This is so beautiful.

    I’m imagining this with ice cream layers, because I can’t eat dairy anymore, and fake cream cheese is pretty bad, not worth the calories. Coconut ice cream, however, is delicious and has the right texture.

    But the cake layers would have to be softer, so you could cut it…

    1. Deanna

      I’d try her hot fudge ice cream cake instead! It’s the perfect ice cream cake (and it still has crunchy chocolate wafer bits!).

  7. Deanna

    I watched this on stories and was hoping for a recipe! My other half isn’t a coffee fan (I know, character flaw), so I might have to turn the coffee layers into peanut butter layers. There are worse problems in life to have.

    1. Chrissi

      And that might be the perfect solution. I am in the same situation and was wondering what else it could be changed to. Might end up as salt caramel. I JUST WANT IT MOCHA but my waistline says i must share it.

      1. JP

        I also do not use coffee, but I think the chocoate layers and very vanilla layers would be delicious and still a pretty presentation.

        1. I was hoping someone in the comments would come up with suggestions on flavors other than coffee!! But, choosing between these is almost impossible! Peanut butter might win.

    2. stacey

      a raspberry cheesecake layer would be great in place of the coffee. vanilla bean or orange too!
      of course, I can’t understand why anyone wouldn’t like coffee ;)

  8. Pia

    This is such an amazing idea. I want to make it with carrot cake and alternating plain/lemon or pineapple curd cheesecake layers!

      1. Laura

        I didn’t realize I was out of molasses until I went to pdut it in. Since it was for the coloring I mixed the chocolate first and then mixed the espresso in the leftover chocolate bowl. The color came out perfectly and you couldn’t taste any chocolate at all.

  9. Hillary

    Kudos for keeping is oh so NOT boring on SK. Yeah, this is one of those recipes that make me drool and envious of your patience to push thru knowing that the closest I would ever come to enjoying it is a dinner invite from you 😀.

    That’s why you’re the trailblazer!

  10. Juliana

    “a trick I like is to press it over the outside of the cake pan first to mold the shape of the foil”

    Because of course! This is a trick that would make life so much easier!!

    1. deb

      I’d think so. You could make one pan with all of the cheesecake batter and just do three thicker layers. Would only need half the wafer volume.

      1. Talia

        I tried this method today (using one 9×13 pan) and it worked great. I did a half recipe of the wafers, then layered the chocolate and coffee cheesecake batter in the one pan. Baked for about 30-35 mins, cooled, cut into three pieces and stacked. Worked fine. Tastes SO GOOD! :)

  11. Grace Chris

    Uh oh! Where does the sour cream go in? I’m making this right now and don’t see where it’s added! I’m guessing with the cream cheese? HELP!

  12. Sami

    Awesome recipe. We made this yesterday between three people and it’s gone in less than 24 hours. We’re not as well equipped or skillful so we made a few modifications which ended up working out nicely:

    —Rolling the wafers out was hard; we split the batter in half and plopped it down on the greased aluminum foil directly. We covered with a sheet of parchment paper and rolled out with a glass rather than a rolling pin.
    —We only had ~15×12” pans, so we used those. This made thinner cakes so shorter cooking and cooling times (~80% of recipe times). We also cut into quarters rather than thirds and ended up with 4 thin layers of each flavor.
    —Out of pure cowardice we cut everything before layering. It was very easy to assemble and even out the layer thicknesses.
    —the cake was delicious the night of but absolutely incredible the next morning after sitting out at room temperature. No clue why

  13. Super, this could not come at a better moment, I just wanted to “start” looking for this year’s birthday cake for my ‘I-don’t-need-a-birthday-cake-but-this-tastes-awesome’-husband. It is getting harder and harder to top the previous ones (salted caramel & chocolate; malt whisky, espresso & dark chocolate) but thanks to you, Deb: check. A big THANK YOU with drum-roll, confetti & multicolored sprinkles. Nicole

    Just in case:

  14. lp

    omg we’re on the same wavelength. i just made something super similar (i used black cocoa brownies rather than wafers).

    i’m writing here to let folks know that if you completely freeze the cheesecake it makes it super easy to pick up/manipulate, etc. i have really shakey hands so i can’t rely solely on a sling and a prayer, without risking the whole thing falling on the floor.

    the cheesecake, once defrosted, was still delish and it didn’t seem to impact the texture (and i’m pretry picky about that).

    happy baking!

  15. Sue Fluhr

    Why are the gold dragees labels as not edible? Seems a lot to ask to have guests scrape these off. Rather pointless. The ingredients look like they are food grade.

    1. JP

      Apparently, in the U.S. gold dragees are considered inedible by the FDA because they contain “minute quantities of heavy metals”- however, they go on to state that they are non toxic and eaten in many other countries. It is hard to believe that the 15 (approx.) dragees per slice would be harmful if eaten. Personally, I am no fan of their crunch, but they do look decorative and I would not be worried about consuming them, given the chance.

      1. Bridgit

        They are so beautiful, but I think I will stick to some finely chopped pistachios, since my family loves them and they’re beautiful.

  16. Sande Bautista

    I plan on making this later this week but I want to make sure I have the right size pan. I see you refer to the 9×13 or a quarter sheet pan. I have a sheet pan and a half sheet pan and a 9×13. The quarter sheet pan, which I don’t have, I think sounds smaller than a 9×13, given the size of a half sheet pan. I just need some idea of the actual dimensions you went for. Thanks! Can’t wait to try it because it looks divine!!!!

      1. Sande Bautista

        It turned out great!!!!! I can always count on you to give great instructions. I’m a visual person so I was very nervous about all these directions but, as always, your directions were perfect.

        Note to others, make sure your cookie layers go all the way to the edge of your pans. Mine shrunk while baking but I was able to press it back while they were warm. Also, definitely use a ruler when slicing into thirds!

  17. Janyll

    Deb, do you ever use non-stick foil? I find it to be a better alternative to parchment paper, as it can be molded to fit and really, truly doesn’t stick to anything. It’s become indispensable in my kitchen.

  18. june2

    Yikes. Those black wafer cookie layers between coffee and chocolate seal the deal. I can taste the whole thing already, therefore I don’t know if I will makes this actually. For obvious reasons, lol. But it is Lovely to look at. Who knows.

  19. Andrea

    I made this for a buddy’s birthday at work yesterday. It’s ahhhh-mazing! And held up incredibly well, even sitting at room temp all day. Something with the ratio of cheesecake to crust, I suppose.
    I didn’t do the rolling out of the crust, but too a hint from a genius poster above and just patted the crust directly into the two prepared 9×13. Way easier and worked great!
    My mind is spinning with other combos; peanut butter and chocolate, raspberry and chocolate, the list goes on!!!

  20. C

    Hi, Deb. Did you hear about the Cuisinart blade recall? I don’t know which model you have but see the blade has rivets. The recall site is It says “The riveted blade may crack and a piece of the blade could detach, which may result in a laceration hazard.”

    1. deb

      I did but I had been using mine for 15 years by then and ignored it. Then I fully replaced my Cuisinart a couple months ago so everything is new. (And I hate it, of course.)

  21. Allie S

    I love that this was do-able in one go- not hours of waiting for slow cooking and cooling. Do you think if I added some flour to the cheesecake batter it would come out more cakey? This was a bit denser than I like in my cheesecake.
    Also, switched espresso powder for peanut butter and it is delish!

  22. Kacie

    I’m thinking about making this, but I think it would be far easier to measure and pre-cut the three rectangles than to try to move one entire cheesecake on to the other. It would less nerve-wracking to remove the parchment, too. Once you have three separate double stacks you can easily trim them up to be square before stacking them all together.

    That said, I thought I knew what my birthday cake would be, but now I see this…

  23. AwesomeAliceCom

    This looks so delicious! I think I may make this for my daughters birthday next weekend, or maybe just for myself as a treat :D

  24. Stephanie

    Oh my, Deb. I made this today for a get together. It’s amazing! I had a bit of a hard time with getting the crust spread thin enough, but it was totally worth the extra effort. Thanks so much for sharing!

  25. Cat

    Wow.. The New York Times! I was so excited that almost spit out my wine as I scrolled through the headlines and saw your byline. Congratulations.

  26. Maggie Iribarne

    HI Deb! I’m a huge fan! I’ve got your dry rubbed sweet and smoky ribs recipe in oven! This is such a great recipe! There are so many recipes of yours I turn to as my go-to! Plus I just love reading anything you write.

    Question, totally not related to above recipe. What would be your food plan for a one or two week beach rental? I’m trying to plan but get overwhelmed!

    Hope this is not an annoying question.

    I am so sorry about your father’s passing.


    1. deb

      Oh man, it would be really hard for me to figure out for someone else. I’d just look at the list of the things you are craving and pick five of the simplest things and shop for them. I feel like simple is really important so you’re not packing or buying a ton of minor ingredients.

  27. Andrea

    Oh my gosh, your cheesecake recipes are always amazing so I couldn’t wait to try this! I made it yesterday; the hubs and I split a piece last night and I took the rest to work this morning and it got rave reviews. I thought the flavors were even better today, especially after sitting out of the fridge for a bit. Very impressive looking but straightforward, and I love how the thin layers make for short baking and cooling times. I agree with the other reviewer, leaving the cakes in the freezer until super cold made for easier layering. Plus I used my Nordic Ware cake lifter to help support during transfer. Next time I will probably skip the ganache – the cheesecake is already so rich, plus I want to taste more of the coffee flavor. Maybe just a little decorative drizzle of chocolate on top, hmmm, only one way to decide!

  28. Alexis

    The results do not disappoint! This is a treasure of a recipe! It’s a keeper. Thank you Deb for your creativity ❤️❤️❤️!

  29. Roberta Sprague

    Hi. I made this today. I found that taking the layers off the parchment before cutting them a challenge. I ended up taking the cut in half layers back in the freezer (still between layers of parchment) for close to 10 minutes. I was then able to peel back the parchment and flop the wafers easily into the 9 x 13 pans. They needed just a little stretching but were basically intact. I used a Wilton cake layer lifter to help move the layers on to each other.

  30. Sandrine Bohbot

    Would love to make this for the holidays coming up – how much in advance do you think I can prepare and do you recommend freezer or fridge ?

    Thank you.

  31. For all out there still doubting whether to make this: this recipe is great. It sounded way too daunting at first, but then I read some comments of people who had pulled it off and decided I should try as well. And it was great! I only have a tiny freezer drawer, so I had to wait overnight for the layers were cool. Also, I don’t have sheet pans, so I used three round cake tins instead. As per other comments I simply put my base dough into the tins and pressed it out there (with my hands) instead of rolling it out very thin and then trying to get it into the tin. This worked liked a charm. Since I am not a coffee fan, I heated one or two tablespoons (not sure) of peanut butter au bain marie and mixed that through 1/3 or my cheesecake batter. I didn’t make the ganache, found it pretty (and tasty) enough without.
    Next, I want to try orange flavoured (and carrot-coloured), already excited for it.

  32. Andrea

    I made this exactly as written except using glittery sprinkles instead of gold decorations on top. It was fantastic and everyone loved it. I had a few minor challenges with the rolling & parchment, and the transferring of the cheesecake layers, but it was totally worth it. I did the glaze as well, and I thought it contrasted well with the cheesecake sweetness. (the glaze was less sweet due to the cocoa powder). For GBBO fans, my kids told me it was a “messy bake” since I didn’t trim the sides but then my son said he was glad I didn’t trim so I didn’t waste any of the wonderful dessert – he’s 11. Totally worth a weekend splurge in baking!

  33. fionamanonn

    This looks really tasty and amazing. I read your recipe thanks for sharing.
    I will try this at home hope this will work.
    Great Work.

  34. fionamanonn

    this layered mocha cheesecake is amazing. your recipe is helpful for bake this cake thanks for sharing information.
    Great Work!
    Keep it up!

  35. Joy D.

    I made this last night on a whim, and it was totally worth it.

    I only had 15.25″ x 10.75″ sheet pans so that’s what I used. It was pretty tricky to roll out the wafer dough thin enough to cover the pans. I ended up doing handfuls of dough, rolling it out between two sheets of parchment paper, and patching it up in the pan. Baked the wafer layers for 9 min. In the end they looked about 1/8″ thick. I didn’t bother trimming any that might have looked a bit higher on the sides.

    I used the food processor for everything, and that worked out quite well.

    I took out the cheesecakes from the pan (leaving them in the foil/parchment. I cut each sheet into thirds. I used a large spatula to put the layers together. Worked really well!

    After the layers were on, that’s when I trimmed the sides.

    This is so pretty and decadent and totally worth the effort.

    1. AJ

      Freaking delicious….and beautiful.

      I’m hindsight, I should have rolled the wafers into the sheets that they bake in, it was difficult rolling out one big sheet (wafer kept splitting), find freezer space for the big one, and then cutting again…I ended up pressing a lot of it back together when I moved them to separy sheets to bake.

      I also completely froze my cakes before layering and that made them very easy to work with – although my cutting was difficult, maybe because the water was still frozen (palm to face).

      We also added espresso brava salt top. Yum town all around.

  36. Jessica

    I followed the recipe as written, substituting only the cocoa powder (I used all King Arthur Double Dutch cocoa, a blend of Dutch processed and black powders). My wafer dough was very powdery and as a result, difficult to roll out and trim. Wondering if the consistency of the blended cocoas might have something to do with it? It shouldn’t, but I can’t really imagine another reason why. Nevertheless, I taste tested the trim and the flavors are delicious. Can’t wait to serve it later tonight!

    1. deb

      It could be heavier measuring or just more dry where you are and it needed a little extra smidge of butter or drop of water to come together? Glad it was still delicious.

  37. Frances

    Made this for my son’s 19th birthday last week. I was reviewing the recipe when it first came out and he looked over my shoulder and said, “Make that for my birthday.” I did not roll out the wafer. Just spread it out in the pan. I admit it wasn’t as thin as it should have been because I was adding more wafer to cover the bottom of the pan. I did need to make more wafer for my second pan. Take Deb’s recommendation and add the parchment. It was definitely the reason I was able to achieve the layers. I consider myself a novice baker, but had great results. Take your time with each step and you will have an elegant dessert.

  38. Yesssss. I made this today for my daughter’s 20th birthday. I had to adjust it just a bit because I only had a half sheet pan. Instead of two distinct flavors, I just swirled them into the one big pan. It still turned out to be freaking amazing (and the flavors did stay distinct). I was initially skeptical of dark cocoa, but I’m glad I used it (thank you Amazon Prime).
    Oh, and because the pan was so much bigger, I ended up stacking them into eight layers (more of a square shape rather than a rectangle end product–definitely sturdy, too). Holy cats it looks cool with that many pretty layers. Overall, it’s really not a difficult recipe. Just had to stay hyper-focused and the pay off was huge. Striking presentation and unbelievably tasty.

  39. Ketki Phatak

    If I use regular cocoa instead of the Dutch processed for the wafer, should I use baking soda instead of baking powder

  40. Jenna

    I made this today & it turned out great! It’s so quick for something that looks pretty complicated. I watched Deb make it on Instagram stories and it made me much less intimidated to try it then I think I would have been had I just seen these beautiful pictures! I found I needed an extra egg when making the wafer bases to make a cohesive mixture in the food processor. I used all dutch-processed cocoa rather then some black cocoa so that might be why. Either way – it turned out delicious AND very pretty. Thanks to Deb for the great recipe & detailed explanations!

  41. Carrie

    I made this to rave reviews last week. I couldn’t get the sides to be even, so I made half again as much of the glaze and covered the sides fully to hide my shamefully pokey-out edges – and it was glorious. The wafer crust was an excellent touch.

  42. Marahak

    I would love to try this today but I’m one package of cream cheese short. Can i substitute one 8 ounce cream cheese package with mascarpone? Will it affect the structure a lot?

  43. Alison

    I made this and it was great! Kind of a pain only because I don’t own two 9×13 pans, so I made the layers one at a time, but definitely worth the effort. As others have mentioned, I put half of the wafer dough in the pan and rolled it thin with a glass, and found this worked super well. I didn’t have black cocoa so I used all Dutch. I think I’ll have to make this again sometime!

  44. Not a question but just have to say ooh la la..the layers look just yum. My husband and I both are die hard fans of coffee. Was looking for inspiration to bake a home made cake on his birthday..I think I just found one :)

  45. Sonia

    I fail-baked my way through this recipe and it still turned out beautifully. I couldn’t roll the cookie base thin enough to cover two 9×13 inch pans without shattering it to pieces, so instead I made just one (very thick) cookie layer. I increased the baking time by about 5 minutes to account for the extra thickness. With only one cookiefied pan, I had to layer both cheesecake mixtures in the same pan. I put the chocolate mixture on the bottom, hoping the extra weight from the chocolate would keep the coffee mixture on top from sinking through, and baked the whole thing for 23 minutes. The layers stayed nicely separated, and the final product was very easy to cut and stack (because I got to skip the scary step of placing the coffee cheesecake on top of the chocolate one). I was afraid the thick cookie layers would be unpleasant, but they were thankfully nice and tender. Thanks for a delicious (and flexible) recipe!

  46. ingarinne

    I made this and it worked beautifully. Even better if both your pans are exactly the same size! which mine weren’t so some trimming was involved. Make sure you trim edges of the wafers otherwise you end up with uneven layers. One side of my cake was a little lower than the rest. I used the ganache to hide most of it!

  47. Jennifer

    I wonder if — heresy!!! — one could just as successfully substitute the already-made-and-waiting-for-me-at-the-grocery-store chocolate wafer cookies (usually on the very top shelf, in a thin yellow cardboard sleeve??) instead of making the wafers from scratch ? I mean, if one were in a desperate hurry ? Or lazy/impatient? or imagining that the recipient would not notice any difference in quality???

    1. Jen

      You probably could make it work. It would make moving layers more precarious, but if you chill and cut the sheets down to thirds before stacking (instead of moving a whole intact layer,) you might pull it off.

  48. Andrea

    Mine totally fell apart after stacking! :( is the culprit underbaked layers or not fully cooked or both???

    I’m so sad.

  49. Jen

    I did it! hoo boy. That was a whole Sunday’s project. I made mine white chocolate and strawberry instead of chocolate and espresso. White chocolate is a straight forward substitution; for the strawberry, I pureed enough frozen strawberry (in the vicinity of 2 to 3 cups frozen slices) to make about 1/2 cup strained puree, which I cooked down to about 1/4 cup. I added a little red food colour.

    I think I’ll cook my cheesecakes a bit firmer next time. They were quite soft for slicing, and I did not manage to lift the white chocolate layer without it cracking in two. I also semi-dropped the white chocolate layer on the way to the cooling rack, and thus had to trim off edges with a wider margin, but there was still plenty of cake.

    1. Jen

      for rolling out my cooking layers, I traced two outlines of my pans onto a sheet of parchement and then split the dough by weight. (I used the food processor, and it needed a few drops of water to come together; glad I saw a previous comment about that.) I chilled the dough briefly, and then rolled each half between two parchement sheets. As bits got outside the outlines, I’d cut them off and fill in the corners, and rolled and cut and rolled and cut until I filled out the whole outline. They seem thin and delicate then, but were fairly sturdy for handling to place into the pans after chilling again as directed.

  50. mahri

    I just made for a friend as a birthday cake – a big hit. My secret to layering? Fish spatula to the rescue! Measuring and trimming the layers to size was more difficult than layering.

  51. phyllis

    H…. I printed this recipe and read all the comments…. thank you all…. but cannot figure out how to print a picture of the actual cake, bc once I put it in my “to make” pile, I won’t remember (even tomorrow) what it looks like…. any suggestions?
    thank you

      1. phyllis Bienstock

        Hi…. is there a video of you making this cake? Layered Mocha Cheesecake
        I thought one of the comments mentioned that.
        thank you

  52. Miriam Lewis

    This recipe just jumped out at me–we haven’t eaten it yet, but here are my comments so far. Quarter sheet pans are too big–I ended up having to make another half recipe of the wafer and used 9 x 12 pans instead which seemed like the right size for the amount of wafer dough. 25 minutes would be the absolute minimum in the freezer–I think longer would be better. All of the scraps taste great, so we can’t wait to eat this for dessert. 2 hours? Hah, 5 hours, more like (although, I’m sure I could get it down to four if I didn’t have to make more dough).

  53. Erin Y

    This recipe was delicious! I cursed every step of the way and was convinced it was going to look awful… but it didn’t. It was beautiful and everyone loved it. I’ve said it before and I will say it again… you are a culinary genius. ;) thanks for sharing these amazing recipes with us.

  54. Eliza

    This is our second time making this and it’s as delicious as it is easy… and it is super easy! We freeze the cheesecake layers and they stack like cardboard. Definitely making it again and again… maybe with different flavors/colors for those that dont like coffee (but most of us do love coffee!).

  55. Adrian

    I encourage anyone to try this recipe. It is *so forgiving.* I made it in 3 pie plates because they were at hand. I pressed the cookie crumbles in the bottom of the pans with foil (no paper because I’m too lazy to cut it in a round shape). I didn’t even have enough cream cheese because I forgot what grams are, and the tubs are smaller in Europe. I split the cheesecake into 1/3 (coffee) and 2/3 (chocolate) and poured it into the pans. I made 2 “tasters” in ramekins with the extra cookie and a little cheesecake. Everything turned out so great.

  56. Carmen

    Came out (pat on my back) exactly like photo! My only veered ingredient was using pure Dutch process which recipe says is ok and it was spot on. Took me several casual readings and then deep mental reading to understand the physical steps, from minor steps of wrapping the foil perfectly to measuring and cutting nuances. Once I fully understood these things it all made sense! Walmart sells quarter sheets for 5 bucks and it was worth it. High quality foil was used and probably worth mentioning. Baked day before and cut and stacked day of, and prepped ganache about an hour before company arrived and let it chill in fridge. Show stopper. Super rich and recommend serving with coffee! I’m so proud given the complexity of the instructions since I’m a visual learner but Deb, you knows how to write a recipe!

  57. dr

    This is a fabulous cake, but take my advice: LINE YOUR PANS WITH PARCHEMENT PAPER, NOT FOIL. The first two times I made this, I used paper, as I usually do, and it turned out beautifully. I did have to press the wafer dough by hand to get it to cover the whole pan, but the chilled cheesecake layers released without a problem.
    When I made it again this year (it’s gone into annual birthday rotation), I consulted the recipe and took Deb’s advice to use foil. When I started to peel the wafers off the foil, it tore in a million places. Know what it’s like to be an art restorer watching a priceless painting disintegrate every time you touch the canvas? Now I do, too. I ended up cutting the whole thing into chunks and layering them in a loaf pan, trifle style. Still delicious…

  58. This recipe is outrageously delicious, elegant and surprisingly doable….. IF you freeze the layers, overnight. I used a bench scraper, dipped in hot water, to cut the layers. Refrigerated until an hour before dessert time. Another brilliant Smitten Kitchen keeper.

  59. Kathleen

    This was amazing! I made vanilla layers in place of coffee (skipped the espresso powder and molasses, added a vanilla bean). And, I had no trouble just pressing the cookie crumbs into the pan, rather than rolling out the dough. It was easy and worked well. I froze the layers for about an hour before removing them from the pans. My one tip is to serve very skinny slices – this is wonderfully rich.

  60. Dawn

    Oh my goodness! This is crazy… my kinda crazy. Can you pleeeeeease make a strawberry vanilla wafer version? You are an evil kitchen genius!

  61. Eva

    I made this yesterday. Much easier than I expected, including the stacking of the layers. I only had 10×14″ pans. I just increased the amount of cream cheese in the cheesecake recipe to make sure those layers were not too thin and it came out very well. A big hit with the family for both visual effect and flavor. I can’t wait to try it as a chocolate and raspberry version!

  62. Anjuli

    Just made this and it is delicious! Two suggestions: weigh one cheesecake filling 4 oz less than the other, and then add the melted chocolate to that smaller one. That way your layers will be even thicknesses. And also, I found that cutting each quarter sheet into thirds, and then stacking the thirds much easier than stacking the quarter sheets and then cutting into thirds. Each piece was easy to lift on a large offset spatula. Happy baking!

  63. JRS

    I was very intimidated by the work/directions to make the thin wafer layer. It was hard to roll it out to the right size and even when I put it in the freezer I got one side of parchment off but the other wasn’t coming off cleanly. Ended up having to just put some on one parchment paper…roll it thin and put it with that parchment in the pan…also had to pat a lot of it in by hand. I didnt have 2 identical size pans to use and ended up using a pyrex rectangular dish. BUT after the stress of the wafer layer….cooking and making the cheesecake filling was easy. Put the 2 cooled pans in the freezer which made removing the coffee layer from the parchment easy and also cutting the 3 pieces and layering them. I added a bit espresso powder to the chocolate drizzle top and only used 1/2 of it to drizzle on top since the cake is so rich didn’t need a full layer on top. I LOVE Smitten Kitchen recipes and Usually Smitten Kitchen takes tough recipes and makes them super user friendly but this wafer step was quite challenging and unpleasant. Cake is stunning and taste great though. I gravitate towards desserts that have great visual appeal and this didn’t disappoint. I encourage anyone who is hesitant to try this to make the effort…well worth it.

    1. JRS

      UPDATE…Just served it to company and it was a HUGE success….everyone was completely impressed with how beautiful and delicious it was. My husband said it was the best dessert I have ever made…and I make a tremendous amount of desserts….many from Smitten Kitchen. Worth all the effort. Will definitely make again.

  64. CJ

    I just made this for husband’s birthday. Fantastic! Made it just as written. The assembly was easier than it sounded like it was going to be. I made it well in advance, so I lined a 1lb bread loaf pan with plastic wrap and popped the cake in there to protect it while in the freezer, and wrapped the whole thing in foil. It froze and defrosted beautifully. (I put the ganache on top after it had defrosted.) This is a real winner of a cake, deceptively luxurious looking and tasting; and being able to make in advance is so convenient.

  65. Caroline

    What an amazing recipe! The cake is beautiful and delicous. “Easy” to make with your always extremely detailed instructions but oh so helpful (including reminder of moment where to eat scraps!). I made the “wafer” and cheesecakes the night before and let them cool in fridge. Next morning I trimmed, assembled and glazed. Worked perfectly (perhaps the cake being cold is what made assembly/finish go smooth). ONLY suggestion; instead of cutting one (1) extra large piece of parchement and rolling entire wafer dough, I pre-cut 2 sets according to size of pans where I was making the cakes. Much easier to put into pans and cut whatever extra OR patch empty spots.

  66. Rebecca

    I made this cake for my husband’s birthday yesterday but made some adjustments aimed at my 3 year old (and my husband’s preferences). I didn’t want a more-hyper-than-normal kid after eating some cake so I cut out the coffee and instead made a caramel cheesecake. I doubled the molasses because I realized it gave a nice caramel flavor and taste to that batch. I also used a combo of pushing the crumb base into the pan and rolling with a cup. It was a bit fiddly but it did work. I also cut the caramel cake into 3 layers and put each 3rd on top of the chocolate because it seemed a lot simpler that way–worked well. Instead of topping with chocolate, I used warmed up caramel sauce to boost the caramel flavor. It turned out great!

  67. Emily

    This cake is AMAZING. This is the second time I’ve made it and it is delicious, beautiful, and super crowd pleasing. I also found the wafer layer tricky, one thing that helped this time around was that after the 5 minutes in the freezer I cut it and put each half on their own parchment. I did some more rolling to get each half thinner and bigger (and did some preemptive patching to get it more like a rectangle), and then another brief stint in the freezer. Thank you for this stunning recipe!