Are you sitting down? Good.
This recipe was inspired by a carton of Dreyer’s Spumoni ice cream that was given to me (and promptly devoured) over a year ago. That chocolate/cherry/pistachio combination—it haunted me. Melodrama.
(Side note: That was my first experience with spumoni. And it wasn’t even authentic spumoni. Apparently I need to get out more.)
This cheesecake is the product of several months of dreaming and planning and putting off and dreaming some more. I’m proud to report that I finally buckled down, found an occasion, and put this thing together.
Sometimes the best-laid plans…can actually work. No kidding!
Expectations exceeded. Beyond exceeded.
Don’t let the idea of triple-layered cheesecake scare you off. It’s just cheesecake divided by three, with a few extra things thrown in. We’ve been over cheesecake basics before, and I’ve repeated them in the directions—which is why the directions might look long and intimidating. I’m just walking you through it all. I reallyreallyreally want this to turn out perfectly for you. You can do this!
You should also be aware that this cheesecake will take more time to prepare than a normal cheesecake, because each layer has to spend 30-45 minutes in the freezer before pouring the next layer over the top. Give yourself plenty of time to put this thing together. I promise it’s worth the wait!
Triple-Layer Spumoni Cheesecake
1-1/2 cups finely crushed graham cracker crumbs (about 9 graham crackers)
3 tablespoons sugar
6 tablespoons butter, melted
5 (8 oz.) packages of cream cheese, room temperature
1-1/2 cup sugar
5 eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons ground pistachios (unsalted)
1 tablespoon pistachio instant pudding mix
green food coloring, optional
1/2 teaspoon cherry extract
2 tablespoons chopped almonds
1/3 cup chopped maraschino cherries
pink food coloring, optional
5 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
Prepare the crust first. In a small mixing bowl, thoroughly mix graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter. Press the mixture firmly onto the bottom (and up the sides, if you want) of a greased 10-inch springform pan; set that aside while preparing the filling.
(Note: I used a 10 x 3-inch springform pan, and the cake batter baaarely fit. I may have had an aneurysm as I watched it bake and prayed that it wouldn’t overflow. A 12-inch pan would be much safer, but I really wanted a tall, dramatic cheesecake, with each layer nice and thick and visible. If you don’t incorporate too much air in the batter by overbeating after adding the eggs, you should be fine with a 10-inch pan. But just in case, it’s never a bad idea to place your springform pan on a baking sheet while it’s in the oven.)
Next, prepare the filling. In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth; add sugar and vanilla, and beat until completely incorporated and all lumps are gone, scraping the sides frequently. Add the eggs all at once and beat just until the eggs are incorporated, no more than about 10 seconds. (Over-beating at this stage can cause your cake to puff up too much, possibly overflow, and crack.)
Divide the batter evenly into three bowls.
In the first bowl, add the ground pistachios, instant pudding mix, and enough green food coloring to create a light green color. Fold gently until evenly mixed.
Pour the green batter into the springform pan. Place the pan in the freezer (make sure it’s sitting level) for 30-45 minutes, or until the batter has stiffened significantly.
In the second bowl, add the cherry extract, chopped almonds, chopped cherries, and pink food coloring. Fold gently until evenly mixed. Pour the batter slowly and gently over the green layer, being careful not to disturb the surface. Put the pan back in the freezer for another 30-45 minutes so the pink layer can stiffen.
While you’re waiting, partially melt the chopped chocolate in the microwave on LOW (or in a double boiler on the stove). Stir until completely melted. Set aside until the pink layer is ready.
In the third bowl, add the melted chocolate and fold gently until evenly mixed. Pour the chocolate batter gently over the pink layer, again being careful not to disturb the surface.
Place the springform pan on a baking pan and bake for 50-60 minutes, or until the edges are puffy and slightly browned, and the center no longer looks liquidy when the pan is gently tapped (checking it too early can cause your cheesecake to crack).
Remove the cheesecake from the oven and let it cool on a wire rack at room temperature for one hour. Do not release the springform pan yet. Cover and refrigerate for 8-10 hours or overnight. When you’re ready to serve, release the springform pan. To get clean slices that showcase each layer, slice the cheesecake with a warm knife, cleaning the knife thoroughly with warm water between each slice.