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This Neapolitan Cheesecake is a triple threat! The classic ice cream flavor combo is perfectly transformed in this three-layer masterpiece of a dessert – chocolate brownie, creamy vanilla cheesecake, and fluffy strawberry cream topping, topped with a crown of chocolate ganache.

Can we just talk about inspirations for a sec?

This whole blogging journey of mine began small, with an early adopter Pinterest account.

I used to scroll through snapshots both low-and high-quality of the most delicious recipes at the dawn of Pinterest. More often than not, I found myself drooling and wondering how the folks behind the camera made their food look so damn good.

And then I tried it myself. I’d recreate some of their recipes, just for fun. And then, I pulled out the fancy camera Abe had gotten me two Christmases prior…and that was the spark that launched my blog.

How many Pinterest recipes have you recreated? I’d say my count is up in the dozens, but my own recipe development is very often inspired by the very bloggers from my Pinterest lurking days.

I have followed Dini Kodippili’s blog The Flavor Bender for a couple of years now, and her recipes simply blow me away. I’m an especially big fan of her stunning cocktails (her Color Changing Lemonade Slushie is what got me all hot and bothered about butterfly pea powder…leading to last summer’s Maui Mule.)

Her desserts definitely get my attention, too, because – well, we all know I’m a sucker for a pretty cake.

When I found out she was writing her first cookbook, I knew I had to have it. Especially when I heard the name.

Secret-Layer Cakes.

It makes me all tingly.

Like, what’s the secret to her delicious recipe creations? Would it be in the book???

Indeed, it is. 60 recipes, full of all kinds of secrets. Secret fillings, secret flavors, surprises inside every dessert. From cheesecake to layer cake to ice cream cake to the most unexpected dessert mashups. She’s got it all covered, and her flavors! OMG.

(I’d bet money you’ve never had a Breakfast Cheesecake before this book.)

I started off with a classic, the Neapolitan Cheesecake, because I’ve always been a sucker for the stripes. Actually, as a kid, I usually avoided the strawberry part in the carton of Neapolitan ice cream. I have no idea why since, as an adult, it’s the flavor I look forward to the most.

The combination and ratio of chocolate brownie to vanilla cheesecake to strawberry whipped cream in this beauty is spot on. I ended up taking it to a good friend’s son’s birthday party the day I shot these photos just to get it out of the house (something I often do with large desserts because – I mean, come on. Temptation covered in ganache.)

The kids ate Funfetti ice cream cake. The grown-ups enjoyed this Neapolitan cheesecake. It was definitely a win for all, and I’m definitely looking forward to my next Dini kitchen recreation.

I definitely might not share the next one, though.

Things you’ll need to perfectly recreate this Neapolitan Cheesecake…
A kitchen scale. The ingredients in the cookbook are measured using the metric system…which aren’t always terribly easy to convert to the standard weights system we use in the U.S. The easiest way to get the perfect cake is to use a trusty kitchen scale – you might find yourself using it all the time like I have been!
A springform pan. Nothing beats a solid springform pan for cheesecakes, mousse-based cakes, or any other dessert that needs to look polished and professional on a cake stand.
Gelatin powder. The gelatin in this recipe helps to set the strawberry topping, but you’ll be able to use the rest to make homemade Jello, chocolate mousse, or lovely mirror glazes.
Vanilla bean paste. My very favorite way to vanilla all the things! Basically the same as vanilla extract, VBP has the added bonus of vanilla bean flecks inside – meaning everyone will know how delicious your vanilla cheesecake will be just by looking at it.
A copy of Secret-Layer Cakes by Dini Kodippili! Because after a bite of this cheesecake, you’re going to want to make everything in the book!

This Neapolitan Cheesecake is a triple threat! The classic ice cream flavor combo is perfectly transformed in this three-layer masterpiece of a dessert - chocolate brownie, creamy vanilla cheesecake, and fluffy strawberry cream topping, topped with a crown of chocolate ganache.

Yields one 8-inch cake ADJUST SERVINGS

Preparation 60m
Cook Time 75m 


Chocolate Brownie
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
4 ounces unsalted butter
5 ounces granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
3.3 ounces all-purpose flour

Vanilla Milk Cheesecake
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
8 ounces mascarpone cheese, softened
2 teaspoons cornstarch
3.5 ounces granulated sugar
1/4 cup whipping cream
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste
3 eggs

Strawberry Topping
6 tablespoons water, divided
1 teaspoon powdered gelatin
1 pound strawberries, hulled (fresh or frozen)
5.3 ounces granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup whipping cream, chilled

Chocolate Ganache
6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup whipping cream
Pinch of salt


Chocolate Brownie:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line the bottom of an 8-inch springform pan with a circle of parchment paper, then butter & flour the pan and paper. Set aside.
Melt the chocolate and butter in the microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring in between to prevent burning. Allow to cool.
When mixture is cool, add the sugar, salt, and vanilla and whisk to combine. Next, add the eggs, one at a time, whisking each in completely before adding the next. Fold in flour until just combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. Bake for 15 minutes, then remove from the oven and let cool for 10-15 minutes. Lower oven temperature to 300 degrees F.

Vanilla Milk Cheesecake:
While the brownie layer is baking, prepare cheesecake.
In a bowl, use a hand mixer and whip the cream cheese, mascarpone, cornstarch, and sugar until smooth and creamy. Add the cream, salt, and vanilla bean paste and mix on medium speed until well combined.
Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix on low until fully incorporated. Do not overmix.
Pour the cheesecake batter over the cooled brownie layer. Tightly double wrap the bottom of the cake pan with aluminum foil. Place the cake pan in a larger roasting pan, then place the roasting pan in the hot oven. Carefully pour boiling water into the roasting pan until it reaches halfway up the sides of the cake pan, being careful not to splash the water into the folds of the foil.
Bake for 60-70 minutes, until the cheesecake is set, but slightly jiggly in the middle when shaken. Turn off the oven, prop open the door with a wooden spoon handle, and let the cheesecake cool for 20-30 minutes as the oven cools.
Remove the cheesecake from the oven and water bath, and remove and discard the foil. Allow it to cool to room temperature, about 4 hours. 
Gently loosen the cheesecake from the pan, running a thin butter knife around the edge if necessary. Cover the cheesecake with plastic wrap and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.

Strawberry Topping:
Place 3 tablespoons of water in a small bowl and evenly sprinkle the gelatin over it. Set aside for 10-15 minutes to let the gelatin bloom.
Place the strawberries and sugar in a saucepan. Heat over medium heat, stirring frequently to melt the sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil and let it simmer for 20 minutes (less for fresh strawberries), until the strawberries have softened and liquid is syrupy.
Dissolve the cornstarch in the remaining hot water. Add this to the strawberry syrup and let it cook for a few more minutes until it has thickened. Remove the saucepan from the heat and add the bloomed gelatin. WHisk to completely dissolve the gelatin in the residual heat. Place the mixture in a bowl to cool.
When the filling has cooled, prepare the whipped cream. Add the chilled whipping cream to a cold bowl and whip until you get soft peaks. Fold the whipped cream into the cooled strawberry mixture until just combined.
Stread the strawberry topping evenly over the cheesecake. Chill until set.

Chocolate Ganache:
Place the chocolate chips in a heatproof bowl. Add the cream and salt and microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring in between, until the chocolate has melted.
Mix to make sure the ganache is smooth and let cool to a thick but spreadable consistency.
Once the strawberry topping has set, spread the chocolate ganache over the cake. Let the ganache set and serve.
by Erica

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