Chocolate Beer Cheesecake With A Pretzel Crust

Choosing a beer for a recipe isn’t as arbitrary as it may appear. It also isn’t difficult, but it does require thought and planning. Substituting your favorite beer in a recipe isn’t always a good idea, and may result in an end product that is nowhere near the intentions of the recipes author.

Where do you start? The recipe or the beer?

A fair question, and it’s a toss up. Which ever way you begin, the recipe or the beer, make sure to be mindful of the flavors. Dark beers go well with “dark” recipes. If that beer you want to cook with is a stout, look for a recipe that calls for “dark” ingredients: chocolate, beef, bacon, etc. If the beer you love is a Pilsner, look for a recipe with “light” ingredients, lemon, chicken, fish, etc. There is some room to move around with this rule, but finding complimentary flavors is the key to success when cooking with beer.

Don’t cook with IPA’s. It’s incredibly difficult to cook with high hop beers due to the fact that the hops reduce to a very bitter product. If you are in love with an IPA, or another high hop beer, save it for drinking and look for another beer to cook with. If you absolutely MUST cook with that IPA, against my stern warnings, strong starches and sugar mellow hops a bit. Try a pumpkin muffin, or a sweet potato pie. But you’ve been warned.

If the recipe is where you want to start, make note of the flavors and try to find a beer that mimics those. If you want to bake a chocolate dessert, for example, look for a beer with chocolate notes, or coffee, or malt. Look at the list of flavor notes that the beer has and try to imagine those in your dish. Most large chain retailers of craft beer (like BevMo or Total Wine) have cards near the beers that explain the flavors in that beer and give you a fairly accurate flavor profile. If you are making a chicken soup, for instance, you might look for a beer with lemon or basil notes, not a beer with coffee and caramel notes.

Now that you have had your crash course in beer recipe development, please, go cook your beer loving hearts out. And don’t forget to share.

For this recipe, I choose Lagunitas Wilco Tango Foxtrot. I had four craft beers, mostly stouts, that were in the running for this recipe, and all would have made great choices. Stouts work well with chocolate desserts because most are made with malted barley, a great addition to baked goods. In the end, it came down to a gut feeling. Lagunitas WTF won out, although loosly categories as a “brown? ale” and more hops that I would generally recomend to cook with, the flavors of chocolate and malt were an incredible fit for this recipe. This is a beer to keep an eye out for, it’s smooth and bold and fantastic.

If you can’t get your grubby little hands on some WTF, a stout with notes of chocolate would make a great substitution.

Chocolate Beer Cheesecake With A Pretzel Crust

For the Crust:

4 standard sized graham crackers

1 cup pretzel rods

2 tbs brown sugar

3 tbs melted butter, unsalted

For the filling:

7 oz dark chocolate (60%)

1 cup Languanitas WTF Beer (or malty, chocolaty stout)

3, 8 oz packages of cream cheese, softened

1 1/4 cup sugar

3 eggs

2 tbs flour

1/3 cup cocoa powder

1/2 salt

1 tbs espresso powder

For the Sour Cream Topping:

1 cup sour cream

1/4 cup powdered sugar

2 tbs Lagunitas WTF

Place one oven rack in the middle position, with one rack below. Preheat oven to 350.

In a food processor add the graham crackers, brown sugar and the pretzels and process until it’s the consistency of crumbs. Turn the food processor on, remove the stopper from the lid and slowly add the butter and process until it resembles wet sand.

Coat the inside of a 9 inch spring form pan with butter. Pour the crust into the spring form pan. Using the bottom of a heavy, flat bottom glass, press the crust very well into the bottom of the pan until well compacted.

In a pot over medium high heat, add the beer and the chocolate, stir until melted and remove from heat. Allow to cool.

In the bowl of a stand mixer add the cream cheese and the sugar and mix until smooth. One at a time, add the eggs, scraping the bottom of the bowl between additions. Pour the cooled chocolate into the mixer and beat until well combined. Lift the head of the mixer and sprinkle the flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder and salt over the batter, stir on low speed until just combined.

Pour the batter into the pan over the crust.

Place the pan in the oven in the middle position. Place a baking dish on the rack below the cheesecake, fill with water.

If you have experience with a water bath, feel free to use that technique. In my experience, the water leaks into the pan, making the crust soggy. Placing a basin of water below the cheesecake has a similar effect without the soggy crust.

Bake the cheesecake until the center no longer jiggles when you shake the rack, about 45-50 minutes. This isn’t a situation where a tooth pick inserted in the middle should come out clean, you just need the center to set and it will continue to set as it cools. Remove from oven.

For the sour cream topping: add the ingredients to a bowl and whisk until well combined. Top the cheesecake with the sour cream topping and return to the oven for 8 minutes. Remove cheesecake and chill in the pan until ready to serve, at least 3 hours.

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23 responses to “Chocolate Beer Cheesecake With A Pretzel Crust

  1. I’ve got to keep this one in the books! I appreciate your warning about cooking with IPA’s – though the warning came a bit too late for me! I made a valiant attempt to make a macaroni and cheese with IPA and the flavors clashed sooo much, it was *almost* too bitter to enjoy. Back to the drawing board on that one! The cheesecake looks absolutely fantastic!

    • Thank you! IPA’s just need to stay in the glass, great for drinking but so hard to control in the kitchen. Glad you like the cheesecake!

  2. Holy! Look at that cheesecake. Excuse me while I go wipe drool off my keyboard. And those tips are super-handy…I’m so pinning them in my notebook.

  3. Dogfish has an amazing chocolate stout bacon cheesecake (I know, right?) on their menu that is out of this world. Have wanted to re-create it at home, but was unsure where to start. This seems about perfect!

  4. My favorite stouts to bake with (and drink) are Terrapin’s Moohoo and Left Hand’s milk stout (the nitro milk stout by left hand is delicious as well). Great recipe. I can’t wait to try it. I hope you don’t mind if I pin it.

    • Sounds great! Milk stouts have been hard for me to find, I even had a beer seller at one of those large chain beer retailers tell that they didn’t exist. I had to pull a few up on my phone for him to believe me.

      • What city/state are you in? That is pretty surprising the a beer person wouldn’t know or that they don’t carry them. I’m in Atlanta and it did take awhile for Georgia as a whole to allow microbrews in from the other side of the Mississippi or to allow craft brewers really. Luckily they have now so our beer scene is exploding.

  5. To start: this is the most amazing thing i’ve ever seen. And the pictures are so beautiful I want to print them out and frame them.

  6. Pingback: Mini Chocolate Stout Cheesecakes with Pretzel Crust and Sour Cream Pearls | | Cook Shoot BlogCook Shoot Blog·

  7. Woah! my girlfriend made this for me for my birthday and it was so amazing. my favorite desert ever.

  8. I made this for a beer pairing party and it was a HUGE hit! Everyone devoured and it and I had to go online and print the recipe for people to take home. I added a bit more sugar because the stout I used seemed particularly bitter. It was perfect and amazing, great texture! Thanks so much for the awesome recipe.

  9. I love this! I own a bar and we participate in a brew week. I am planning to make this cake with our Ompa Lompa (chocolate stout of course) beer. Have any recommendations for a blueberry beer? I would like to make a second dessert from that beer too!

    • That sounds like fun! Where is your bar?
      My first thought is to do a tart and try and reduce berries, sugar, cornstarch and maybe 1/2 cup beer until thick and then bake it in a tart crust. Serve with lemon pilsner ice cream? Obviously, that’s a rough start to a recipe, but there isn’t a ton of beer recipes out there to go off of, so some experimentation has to happen! The second thing would be a berry crisp with a similar method of reducing a standard crisp recipe filling (like this one: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Plum-Berry-Crisp-239245 ) on the stove with some beer before continuing with the rest of the recipe. But adding sugar and tasting as you go to make sure it isn’t TOO bitter. If you wanted to go savory, I would start with this Blueberry Onion Pork Tenderloin recipe and just replace the wine with beer and maybe add a bit more (1/3 or 1/2 cup total?) http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/cooking-live/blueberry-onion-sauced-pork-tenderloin-recipe/index.html

      Have fun and let me know how it goes!

      • Thank you!! That gives me plenty to start and I am going to turn my kitchen into a science lab today to see what happens!
        It’s a small bar and grill in Athens, Ohio called The Pub. Our patrons will be grateful!

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