Who has two thumbs, sticks candles in a cheesecake and calls it her birthday cake?  This girl.  Yep, I’m another year older, and we marked the occasion with this divine dessert.  Normally I treat my birthday cake selection as a matter of great importance.  There are numerous possibilities that I consider, taking the whole thing far too seriously.  This year for whatever reason, there was no debate.  I realized I hadn’t made a cheesecake in probably close to two years, decided it most certainly had to be chocolate, and that was that.  Case closed.

I can’t say I regret the decision in the slightest.  In fact, I’m going to say that this is the best birthday selection I’ve made since the chocolate overdose cake.  (Are you seeing a pattern here?)  You really can’t go wrong with a chocolate cookie crust, rich and silky cheesecake filling, and glossy ganache topping it all off.  Andrew has been really into birthdays lately – whose birthday is next, etc., and he selected these birthday candles for me.  What can I say?  He’s got great taste!  He was very excited to help me blow them out.  Even though this was a birthday cake in our house, I’m sharing it now because I think it’s ideal for Valentine’s Day.  V-day desserts typically fall into one of three categories:  red/pink, heart-shaped, or super chocolatey.  At least for me, the latter wins my heart every time.


For the crust:
1½ cups finely ground chocolate cookie crumbs*
3 tbsp. sugar
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

For the cheesecake: 
½ cup sour cream
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. espresso powder or instant coffee granules
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
3 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
3 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
¼ tsp. salt
1¼ cups sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature

For the glaze: 
3 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
6 tbsp. heavy cream
1 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature

*Most recipes call for Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers but I can never find them.   I generally use Oreos and scrape off the cream filling.  


  • 01

    To make the crust, preheat the oven to 400˚ F.  Line the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with a round of parchment paper.  In a medium bowl combine the cookie crumbs, sugar, and melted butter.  Stir with a fork until all the crumbs are moistened.  Add the crumb mixture to the springform pan and gently press about 1 inch up the sides of the pan.  Press the rest of the crumbs into an even layer over the bottom of the pan.  Bake for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.  Reduce the oven temperature to 300˚ F.

  • 02

    To make the filling, combine the sour cream, vanilla, and espresso powder in a small bowl.  Whisk to blend and set aside.  Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave (in short intervals, stirring frequently) until completely smooth.  Set aside and let cool slightly.

  • 03

    In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the cream cheese, cocoa powder, and salt.  Beat on medium-high speed until smooth and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Beat in the sugar and continue mixing about 2-3 minutes more, scraping down the bowl as needed.  Add the cooled chocolate to the bowl and mix on medium-low speed.  Beat in the sour cream mixture just until evenly blended.  Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing each just until incorporated.  (Don’t over-beat once the eggs are added or the cheesecake will puff too much.)

  • 04

    Pour the filling into the cooled crust.  Bake until the center jiggles very slightly when nudged, about 50-60 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for 1-2 hours.  Then cover and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, at least 8 hours or overnight.  (In my opinion, the greatest disservice you can do your cheesecake is not chilling it long enough.  Always let it chill completely through.  I promise, it will be worth the wait!)

  • 05

    To make the glaze, place the chopped chocolate in a small heatproof bowl.  Bring the cream to a simmer in a small saucepan or in the microwave.  Pour over the chocolate and let stand briefly, 1-2 minutes.  Whisk just until a smooth ganache has formed.  Whisk in the butter until completely incorporated.  Pour the glaze in an even layer over the chilled cheesecake.  Chill thoroughly.

  • 06

    To serve, carefully unmold the sides of the springform.  Run a sharp knife under hot water to warm the blade, and wipe dry with a towel.  Slice cleanly, wiping the blade between slices and reheating as necessary.  Serve chilled.


  • Alex C

    Happy Birthday Annie! The cake looks amazing. Hope you had a great day :)

  • The Hungry Housewife

    Happy Happy Birthday!!! Love the cake!

  • Kristin

    Happy birthday! Mine is right around the corner, & that cheesecake is very tempting.

  • Happy birthday! That cake looks absolutely positively amazing!

  • Emilie @ Emilie’s Enjoyables

    Looks amazing, happy birthday Annie!

  • Happy Birthday and this was a great dessert choice. I think I will try this over the snowy weekend or for the fourteenth (celebrating the engagement that started it all). Good choice on the candles, very elegant!

  • Happy Birthday! I hope your day was full or fun and love.

    Also- Andrew really did do a marvellous job on the candle selection, so pretty.

  • Looks like a slice of heaven! Happy Birthday to you, Annie! Thanks for blessing our taste buds and tummies with your time and talents!

  • A fine choice for a birthday cake, hope your day was a good one!

  • Michele Morningstar

    Happy birthday Annie! :) Thanks for sharing these lovely recipes, all the best !!

  • Happy birthday!! MMM I’d say you have amazing taste in birthday cakes!!

  • Heather W.

    Happy Birthday! This cheesecake looks yummy!

  • Lisa Grant

    Happy happy birthday! Yummy cake!

  • That looks amazing! I’m a big cheesecake fan, but I haven’t made one in quite a while. I’ll definitely save this recipe for the next time a big chocolate craving hits!

    Happy Birthday :)

  • Claire

    Happy Birthday! What do you do with all the leftover cream filling? :)

  • Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar

    It’s like you baked this for ME!

  • Angela

    Happy birthday! You have excellent taste, as always! May your new year bring you peace and joy.

  • Kelsey

    I’ve been waiting for your birthday cake selection. What a beauty, Annie!

  • This looks divine!! I’m looking for a super rich chocolatey dessert to make for Valentine’s Day and this might be the winner!

  • Happy belated birthday, Annie, and WOW what a way to celebrate! This cheesecake is so lovely and your photos are, too. Especially that last one – love the smooth, glossy glaze. Here’s to another year older and wiser!

  • Ashley @ FromDahliasToDoxies

    Bon anniversaire! Have a lovely day. :)

  • Adam Bowling

    I would just leave the cream filling on the oreos and reduce the sugar and butter in the crust. The filling is just fat and sugar after all.

  • Alyssa

    Happy birthday Annie! Thank you for all of your wonderful posts. You are so inspiring! Also, this cheesecake looks fabulous!

  • Happy Birthday! That looks like it would totally melt in your mouth!

  • Amanda V

    Happy Birthday!!

    Ohhh my! Chocolate cheesecake is my favorite and yesterday was my birthday! Perfect :)

  • Happy Birthday!!! What a perfect dessert! I would love this for my birthday, too :)

  • This looks divine. Happy birthday Annie!

  • Shellanor

    Happy birthday! How did you get your cake off the bottom piece of the springform pan and parchment paper? Did you wait until it was completely chilled and then flip it over? Thank you!

  • It’s beautiful! Happy Birthday!

  • Happy Birthday : ) This cake looks phenomenal!

  • Mommy2jands

    Happy Birthday Annie! The cheesecake looks divine! I like how you use a chocolate glaze. It’s forgiving in case your cheesecake cracks!

  • Krysten

    My hubby and I made a chocolate cheesecake almost identical to this last weekend – only ours had MORE chocolate in it!! This looks fantastic though, hope you enjoyed your birthday cake :)

  • I am always afraid to take on a cheesecake challenge because it always cracks right in the middle. Do you have that problem at all?

  • Llsieg

    OK, THIS I have to try.

  • Elizabeth

    Happy birthday, Annie! Feburary is the best month to be born. I just celebrated the day of my birth last week with mango cheesecake.

  • This looks fantastic!! Chocolate overdose, in the best way possible! Happy Birthday!

  • Happy birthday, Annie!

  • I’ve always loved you, Annie. But, with this post, you’ve won MY heart all over again! Great birthday selection and you can bet I’ll be making this soon! ;)

  • Virginie

    Happy birthday Annie ! This cake looks good and beautiful…

  • Sara Chenery

    Yesterday I was just wondering, “What does Annie make for her birthday?” Or, if it was even kosher to bake your own cake — but now I know.

  • wow these pictures are making my mouth water so much!!

    the long candles so pretty, really love them in the photos!

  • Jessie

    Happy birthday, Annie! Our birthdays are just a week apart :) This cheesecake looks fantastic.

  • Susie Homemaker MD

    Happy birthday, Annie! The cheesecake looks divine!! Hope you have a fun and relaxing weekend :)

  • Suzanne Perazzini

    This cake looks good enough to eat right off the screen.

  • anjali

    belated birthday wishes Annie…hope you had a great time..:)

  • Lizanakata

    Happy birthday, Annie! What a delicious dessert to behold! I knew your birthday cake selection this year would be nothing short of spectacular!

  • Oh man this looks wonderful! It’s just beautiful!!

  • Mary

    Yummy! I like the way you think! For my last two birthdays, I’ve made myself a triple chocolate cheesecake. I’m going to have to give this one a try now. Thanks for posting it, and Happy Birthday!

  • Bunny

    Happy birthday!
    Wow, that first picture is gorgeous. and the cake looks D-ivine.

  • Amviola87

    Happy belated birthday!

  • I think I can confidently call myself a chocolate lover too :) I love that you didn’t just settle for chocolate cheesecake, but went for it–that glaze is perfection. Because really, you can’t have a birthday cake without a little frosting. Happy Birthday!

  • Nan

    I made myself the best chocolate dessert I have ever tasted for my birthday in November- killer cake (recipe from the Commissary Restaurant in Philadelphia). As for the Nabisco wafers, I can usually find them where they keep ice cream toppings! Strange place I know but look there next time. My DD requested I make a chocolate cheesecake for a friend of hers last May- it was similar to yours and I managed to get it off the springform pan safely!

  • Happy Belated Birthday Annie!!! That cheesecake looks ah-mazing. I ONLY like *chocolate* cheesecake, and this looks totally up my alley. I would love to try this recipe soon, sounds so so so yummy!

  • Cassandra

    Looks delicious! You can find Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers at Kroger near the ice cream in the frozen section — they’ll be by the ice cream toppings (not in the cookie aisle)!

  • Tina

    Happy BDay Annie!

  • Anonymous

    Hey Annie,Happy Birthday….!!

  • Anonymous

    Annie i have started the vanilla extract project…its already smelling awesome.Thanks for the tip on the cheap beans from Amazon.Now if only i can find a cheap source for Dutch process cocoa..those tiny tins at williams-sonoma are outrageously expensive…im sure u must be going through pounds of them…where do you buy urs from?

  • RikiTikiTembo

    ohh what a perrrfect way to celebrate your birthday! I hope it was a wonderful one:) This one has def made my list!

  • I am a cheese-cake-aholic! (I maintain my weight by giving at least half of every cheesecake I make away to grateful friends!) This one looks amazing and I must make it. The sooner the better. Tnx

  • Kristina

    Can i just hang out with you? and we can make/eat chocolate things all day? i don’t even like cheesecake too much but i’m going to make this!!!

  • Nicole

    made this last night, let it chill alllll day today, and the first piece is AMAZING! i always thought cheesecake was difficult to make, but after making this one its so easy…i will never buy one again! great birthday choice, thanks for sharing.

  • Anonymous

    I have bought it in a few places, most often online from either King Arthur Flour or Penzey’s Spices in 1 lb. quantities. I sometimes go to the Penzey’s store but unfortunately ours isn’t super close. I agree, those small jars are outrageous!

  • Anonymous

    That’s what I’ve heard but so far I haven’t seen them there. Thankfully the oreos work for me.

  • Anonymous

    I think if you love to bake, it is wonderful to make your own cake! I get way more joy out of the process of baking it than anyone else ever would :)

  • Anonymous

    I would definitely never recommend flipping a cheesecake. I just used a thin spatula, slid it underneath and transfer the cake to the platter. It should definitely be very well chilled before you attempt moving, otherwise it may break.

  • Anonymous

    True! Although, this cheesecake had a perfectly smooth top and would have been lovely without the glaze. I just like any opportunity to add more chocolate :)

  • Anonymous

    I personally think that cracks are due to a poor recipe. I have never made a cheesecake that cracked, but I think that’s because I have used very reliable recipe sources. Have no fear in the kitchen. Being afraid doesn’t get you anywhere!

  • Anonymous

    I’ve done that quite a few times but I think the shortening in the filling creates this kind of greasy residue on the crust that isn’t appealing. It isn’t horrible, but I prefer it when I don’t have the filling in there. Usually depends on if I’m feeling lazy or not :)

  • Anonymous

    I threw it away.

  • OMG, now this is my kind of cake. Pure decadence!

  • Happy birthday!!! Looks like the perfect way to celebrate :)

  • Hey Annie, happy birthday! My birthday is just around the corner. I am a lot of fun and am thinking I would really like to get on your birthday party list next year!!! What a gorgeous cake-I gained 5 pounds just looking at it!

  • I know I told you this over the weekend, but these photos are seriously gorgeous, Annie!

  • Christine

    Happy belated birthday, Annie!

  • Martha

    Annie, this looks amazing! For anyone else who cannot find the nabisco wafers, and does not want to scrape all the filling out of oreos, I have had (delicious) success with chocolate teddy grahams — much less work! Although it can feel a little barbaric whirring them around in a food processor, they are just so cute.

  • Anonymous

    That’s a great idea. Thanks for the suggestion!

  • you’ve inspired me to be fearless when it comes to cheesecakes, I will try this recipe soon :)

  • Jray67

    I have used chocolate Teddy Grahams in place of Nabisco’s Famous Wafers in other cheesecakes and the crust turned out just fine.

  • I love that you’re honest about those Famous Wafers. Before I moved to Nashville, I could not find them at all. Then I could, but I refuse to pay $5 for a sleeve of cookies. Your idea is SO much better. (I love your blog, by the way!)

  • Happy belated Birthday, Annie! Your cake choice is fabulous. I don’t think there is anything wrong with sticking candles in a chocolate cheesecake and calling it a birthday. :)

  • Jen @ Jen’s Favorite Cookies

    Oh, WOW! This cheesecake looks like… love. Or death. Or heaven. Or something really, really big! I NEED to try it. I’m too big a chocoholic to let it go to waste. But I wonder how it would be without the espresso powder? I’m not much of a coffee fan, and I never have it in the house. Think it would be okay if I just left it out?

  • Anonymous

    In any recipe like this, the coffee or espresso simply acts to enhance the chocolate flavor and you can’t taste it independently. It’s your prerogative to omit it of course, but it’s probably better left in. Enjoy!

  • i’m making this right now! it’s in the oven and i can’t wait to break into it tomorrow :)

  • Rachel

    This was an amazingly incredible dessert. Thank you so much for the clear directions. This is a recipe I know I will make again and again – one that friends and family will request of me for their special occasions, I hope!

  • Farmgirl

    I made this cake on the weekend for my birthday! It was delicious! My company loved it! I will definitely be making this cake again! It turned out perfect!

  • Vanessa

    I am def. going to try this! I made a chocolate cheesecake for my brother’s birthday this weekend and although it was good it was not great! I am looking forward to giving this one a try soon :)

  • Lindy

    I make a Mocha-Chocolate Cheesecake that is very similar to this one. I can never find Chocolate Nabisco Chocolate Wafers anymore either. But I have found that if I use my food processor to finely chop Oreo’s, it doesn’t matter if you don’t remove the frosting. Sounds strange I know, but they chop so fine it’s like the frosting doesn’t even exist.

  • annieseats

    I have also made many Oreo crusts without removing the filling. While you can’t tell it’s there in texture, I do think it leaves a greasy film coating the crust so I prefer to remove the filling.

  • Madisonpbear

    Can you sub Greek yogurt for the sour cream, fat-free cream cheese for the cream cheese, egg whites for the eggs, and margarine for the butter? I don’t know how the chemistry in cheese cakes work, but I want to reduce the fat!

  • annieseats

    Can you? Sure. Will it still be any good? Doubtful. Please see the FAQ page for more info regarding substitutions. Cheesecake is a fattening food – period.

  • Julia

    Dear Annie,

    I have been lurking around your blog for a while but was never brave enough to try your recipes.
    But this weekend I made the chocolate cheesecake for a birthday and everybody is asking me for the recipe! :o)
    (Even though I ruined the crust with too much butter and the cake did not stick together and had to be served upside down!!!)
    but I have already made some notes on what to do different next time and this will definately be a keepsake recipe in my house!

    thank you!

  • Bridgette Baugher

    This cheesecake is delicious – I made it for the 2nd time this weekend just because I was craving it again.

    I have a question though – how do you make the ganache look so pretty and perfect? I am guessing you are going to say that it just takes practice, but Im curious to know if you have any tricks or tips. I am planning to make your tuxedo cake for mothers day, and that looks even trickier to get right!

  • annieseats

    I don’t really think there is any special technique needed. I just make sure the ganache is totally smooth and then pour it over the top (or in the case of the tuxedo cake, let it cool 10 minutes and then pour it over the top). I don’t smooth it with a spatula or anything because that would create lines. Enjoy!

  • My mother made this for my brother’s birthday and it was amazing. Rich but so light! :)

  • Jessalyn

    Hi, Annie! Do you think it’s feasible to adapt this recipe to fit a 9×13? I woudl like to be able to cut the cheescake into bars and serve on cupcake liners for an informal gathering we are having. I noticed the proportions of cream cheese, eggs and sour cream are nearly the same as the Oreo Cheesecake Bars. Obviously, I would reduce the baking time from this original recipe. Just curious to know your thoughts! Thanks in advance. ;)

  • annieseats

    You can bake any batter in any size pan, but baking times will likely vary. I haven’t tried it myself so you’ll have to experiment to see what works. Good luck!

  • annieseats

    Hi Bridgette,
    Sorry for the delay. I tried responding to this comment quite a while ago but I guess my reply was lost somehow. Anyway, I don’t have any special tricks for making the ganache smooth, and I don’t even think it takes practice. Basically as long as you just pour it on, rather than spreading with a spatula, you’ll get a smooth surface. The tuxedo cake is very simple – just make sure you follow the directions and let the glaze cool some before you pour it. Enjoy!

  • Jessalyn

    I made the recipe into cheesecake bars over the weekend and thought I would report back. I actually halved the recipe and baked it in an 8×8 for 25 minutes (yield was about 16 small bars). Everyone loved them. Thanks for sharing!

  • I just made this last night. While it tastes delicious, I had to up my bake temperature in order for it to get done. I was looking for a slight jiggle, and even after an hour and 45 minutes, it was still completely runny. So I turned the oven up to 350, and it finally reached the proper point.

    I am just wondering if 300 is the proper temperature to bake this cheesecake at….?

  • annieseats

    Yes, cheesecake should be baked at a low temperature. It’s possible your oven is off a bit. Sometimes it just needs more time.

  • Don’t know if it has been mentioned on here or not but you can just buy a box of oreo baking crumbs. :D

  • Kathryn Simons

    Mum has baked this cake for two different birthdays this year and it is delicious every time. It’s rich but not too rich.
    Thanks for the wonderful recipe, Annie!

  • Making it for my Valentine baby for her birthday! Can’t wait for tomorrow! Thank you for the amazing recipe and the great pictures!

  • Bonjour Rae

    This looks so delicious!

  • Vish

    Hi Annie,
    Just wanted to confirm something about the ingredients – so it is 24oz total cream cheese? or the 3 packages total to 8oz? I am in Australia so unsure what the package size is in US (maybe its like the sticks of butter :P).

  • annieseats

    Yes, 24 oz total. Enjoy!

  • Rossini

    Looks So tasty <3 wonderful recipe!!!

  • Mary

    I have a strange question…is this a dense or light cheesecake? Thanks!

  • annieseats

    That’s kind of a subjective question so it’s tough to say, but based on the triple chocolateness, I’ll say dense.

  • Helena

    Cheesecake is a rare treat in our house and this was a wonderful finale to our Easter meal. Inspired by Smitten Kitchen’s PB cheesecake I added some melted chocolate to the base – definitely recommended!

  • Levanah

    Not a strange question to a NY Jew! That’s always the first thing i wonder when i see a cheesecake recipe. I am *hugely* partial to what i assume you mean by “dense.” This actually has nothing to do w/the amount of chocolate, which i think is an answer to a different question: is this “intense?” To my mind (& the majority of NY-deli-goers) “dense'” means literally that: if I stick a fork deeply into the center of a slice of this cheesecake, will it remain standing upright for a rather lengthy, if not indefinite, amount of time?…or will it slowly – or (groan!) even rapidly – list to one side & topple over?

    Is that what you meant, Mary?

    And please – can you tell *me*? 8^) Thanx!

  • Levanah

    Annie –
    Please see my question just above, under Mary’s. Thank you!

  • annieseats

    This is definitely an excellent dense cheesecake. You would approve :)

  • Mary

    Hi Levaneh, yes, I meant exactly what you described; a fork would stand up if left in it. This is the only kind of cheesecake in my book! I didn’t try it so I can’t answer your question. I will bow to Annie on that one. If you try it, will you please post?

  • Danielle

    How many oreos does it generally take to make the crust? A whole package? More than a package? (They sell them in 14 oz packages here, approx 36 cookies) Thanks!

  • annieseats

    I believe 1 package is usually enough. Enjoy!

  • Mary

    That is exactly what I mean! I love dense cheesecake and don’t care for the light, creamy versions. Thoughts?

  • Desiree

    I like this recipe and want to make it in cupcake sizes if I half the recipe will it give me enough for 12 cupcakes?

  • annieseats

    I haven’t tried that so I can’t say for sure. You’ll have to experiment. Good luck!