Woodland Forest Cheesecake
A rich, creamy, dense beautiful woodland forest cheesecake that's simply stunning and easy to make! An "edible moss" graham cracker base, ultra smooth chocolate cheesecake, and tree stump bark come together for fairy gatherings.
This cake is a celebration of the wonders and magic found in nature. From delicate flowers to wondering creatures, to mushroom picking in the forest. This chocolate cheesecake is bound to live in enchanted memories.
I just finished Rosalind Miller cake school and I am itching to make all the layer cakes. But, I know not everyone has the motivation or desire to make elaborate layer cakes and buttercream. Cheesecake comes together much more easily, but I wanted to give it a woodland effect.
Why you'll love this cheesecake:
- It's super easy - and no water bath or special equipment is needed!
- It's not overly sweet - This cake is rich and decadent, but less sweet than say a buttercream cake, and the amazing flavor and texture is simply wonderfully rich and delicious.
- The edible moss cheesecake crust is delicious and stunning - Made from crushed graham crackers, a little green food coloring, optional nettle tea and some melted butter, it teleports me right to the forest and tastes exactly how a cheesecake crust should, but it's prettier!
- We adapted a classic - this recipe is adapted from King Arthur's classic chocolate cheesecake, it's fool proof and perfect!
Before starting, it's very important to bring your eggs and cream to room temperature in cheesecake recipes, because cold ingredients don’t come together smoothly, and you want a smooth, luscious cheesecake! So take the time to bring your ingredients to room temperature before starting to make your cheesecake. I like to take mine out first thing in the morning and measure out everything else in advance.
FOR THE MOSS CRUST:
- 1 14 oz sleeve of graham crackers or similar light colored cookies, I've also used digestive biscuits.
- ½ 1 oz bottle (standard size) of liquid food coloring in green
- ¼ cup loose nettle ground tea (optional)
- 4 tablespoons (57g) butter, melted
FOR THE FILLING:
- ½ cup (113g) milk
- 2 cups (340g) quality dark chocolate
- three 8-oz packages (680g) cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 cup (198g) granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
FOR THE CHOCOLATE BARK:
- ½ cup chocolate chips or quality dark chocolate
How to make it:
START WITH THE CRUST:
- Preheat oven to 375 F or 176 C and lightly grease a 9" springform cheesecake pan.
- Add your full sleeve of graham crackers into a food processor and grind them up. If you don’t have a food processor, crush up the graham crackers in a plastic bag, but just be sure to get things nice and crushed. You want them to be finely processed.
- Add your graham cracker crumbs to a large bowl and add in your food coloring. This recipe does require quite a lot to get it a nice dark green color. Start with ½ bottle and add more if needed. Use gloves to mix it up with your hands without staining them.
- Add the melted butter, processing briefly or stirring until the mixture is evenly crumbly. It should be the consistency of wet sand. Press the moist crumbs into the bottom and partway up the sides of the prepared pan. Place the pan on a baking sheet, to catch any potential drips of butter.
- Bake the crust for 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, and set it aside as you make the filling.
Note: Depending on the type of cookies you use, you might need slightly slightly more butter than listed in this recipe. Start by adding the recommended amount of butter, incorporate it completely into the cookie crumbs, and if you need more, add it very slowly until you reach the consistency of wet sand.
NOW MAKE THE FILLING:
- Reduce the oven heat to 350°F.
- To make the filling: Combine the milk and chocolate in a small saucepan or microwave-safe bowl or large cup. Heat, stirring frequently, until the chocolate melts and the mixture is smooth. Remove from the heat, and set the mixture aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat together the cream cheese and sugar at low speed, until thoroughly combined. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl, and beat briefly, just until smooth.
- Add the eggs one at a time, beating to combine after each one.
- Stir in the vanilla, then the flour.
- Add the chocolate/milk mixture, beating slowly until thoroughly combined. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl; beat briefly, just until smooth.
- Pour the batter atop the crust in the pan. Place the pan on a baking sheet; this will make it easier to get the cake in and out of the oven safely.
- Bake the cake (remember, the oven temperature should be 350°F) for 45 to 50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the cake 1" from the outside edge comes out clean. A digital thermometer, inserted at the same point, should read 175°F. The center may not look set; that's normal!
- Turn off the oven, crack the door open several inches, and allow the cake to cool in the oven for 1 hour. Remove the cake from the oven, and set it on a rack to finish cooling. When it's completely cool, cover the cake, and refrigerate it until ready to serve. You’ll want to refrigerate for at least 6 hours in the fridge before removing from springform pan, slicing and serving. Otherwise it’ll won't set properly.
- Garnish the top of the cake with the reserved "edible moss" crumbs
MAKE THE CHOCOLATE TREE BARK WHILE YOUR CAKE BAKES:
- Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper
- Heat your chocolate in microwave or sauce pan, stirring frequently, until the chocolate melts and mixture is smooth.
- Remove from the heat, and pour onto your prepared baking sheet over parchment paper
- Let it sit in the refrigerator for 10 minutes, or until it's slightly cooled but not solid
- Roll it length wise into a log shape and transfer back to the fridge to solidify, for about an hour
- When you unroll it it will look like three bark
- Use a toothpick or sharp tool to draw lines into the chocolate for a bark-like effect
- Insert into the top of your cake once it's done baking and chilled
Expert tips for perfect cheesecake:
- Make sure all your ingredients are at room temperature – this is particularly important for the cream cheese, yoghurt and eggs (or other add-ins if you’re making another type of cheesecake).
- Turn off the oven while the cheesecake is still wobbly in the middle. For this cheesecake, this is around the 55-60 minute mark. The remaining heat of the oven will fully set the cheesecake without over-baking it.
- Finally, you’ll want to be sure you chill your cheesecake in the pan until it’s at room temperature, and then refrigerate for at least 6 hours in the fridge before removing from springform pan, slicing and serving. Otherwise it’ll won't set properly.
Frequently asked questions:
How long do cheesecakes last?
If you tightly wrap the cheesecake in plastic wrap or store it in an airtight container, it will last up to 3 days in the fridge.
Can you freeze cheesecake after it's baked?
Yes you can, here is how we freeze cheesecake to ensure it's just as tasty as when we put it in the freezer
- Let the cheesecake cool and set completely.
- Remove it from the springform pan and place it in the freezer for one hour.
- After one hour, wrap it tightly in plastic cling wrap
- Place the wrap in aluminum foil or a bag, dated.
How to garnish this fairy cake:
I kept it simple and used these mini mushroom figurines and some organic pink roses. You can learn all about garnishing with food safe roses in my post about: Where to find edible flowers for cakes!