INSPIRATION came this week from one of those little recipe cards one picks up at the till in the supermarket.

It was for a swirly cheesecake thing, which looked lovely. This one’s been floating about the house for weeks, and I’ve been obsessing about it all the time, thinking of what I could do to make it a little different.

Then it hit me, as I was making myself an espresso. Coffee. The very word makes me want a cup immediately. It is an amazing product, quite literally one of the global products that make the world go round. It is traded on the floors of the world’s stock exchanges as ferociously as gold or wheat. And it is drunk in almost every country in the world, and in so many ways. Think of the dark, almost impossibly sweet Turkish or Greek coffees, resting on their crunchy grounds. Or perhaps the New Orleans classic café Brûlot, thought to be evolved from the favourite drink of local pirates, scented with orange zest and cinnamon. The classic creamy Italian cappuccino (the spelling test-setter’s favourite) or its cousin, the simple, powerful espresso, whose influence has transformed the cafés of Europe and beyond. The Swedes won’t leave the house on those moonlit mornings without brewing a pot of dark roast beans, and all across North Africa, people wake to the intoxicating scent of brewing Qawah, laced with cardamom, pepper and rose petals. But when I think of coffee, I think immediately of my mum, a prodigious coffee drinker. Whether it’s a morning rouser straight from the jar of instant, a café con leche in a Spanish bar, or a layered latté in a fancy-pants coffeehouse, she adores the stuff.

Of course, it’s quite addictive, or rather the caffeine is, and several cultures, governments and religions have, at some time or other, tried to prevent its use. With little effect, it must be said, as today it’s one of the planet’s most popular beverages. I love cooking with coffee. Not only does it make one of the very best ice-creams in the world, but it lends its unique, earthy dark flavours to all manner of dishes, savoury and sweet. A spoonful of ground coffee can take game sauces into new dimensions, and the simplest dessert of a shot of espresso poured over a good-quality vanilla ice-cream is a delicious and sophisticated way to round off a meal, especially if it’s been a big one. It can be served in little cups, and is gone in an instant, but very effective.

So this week, a swirly coffee and chocolate baked cheesecake pudding, with a sweet mocha hot chocolate to accompany it. I’ve tinkered, as I am liable to do, with the ingredients somewhat, but it’s a nice easy recipe to make, and takes only half an hour or so.

I had an amazing hot chocolate at a café in Valldemossa a few weeks ago – the real thing, like they do in Spain, rich, thick molten chocolate, loosened with just a splash of milk or cream, and topped with a crown of ice-cold whipped cream. Five minutes of heaven.

So I thought it would accompany this dessert very well, either as a fancy coffee-morning concoction, or as a rather impressive dessert.

Of course, you can simply serve the cheesecake pudding on its own, or with a scoop of your favourite ice-cream, as you wish.

Aprons on!

Chocolate Base:

150g unsalted butter

200g bitter chocolate

225g unrefined golden caster sugar

3 large free-range eggs

75g plain flour

3 heaped tsps instant coffee granules or 3 short shots of espresso


300g soft cream cheese

50g unrefined golden caster sugar

2 eggs


A 20x20cm baking tin, non-stick or greased and floured

Mocha Hot Chocolate:

250g bitter chocolate

300ml full-cream milk

1/2 tbsp cornflour

1 tsp instant coffee granules or 1 shot espresso

Pinch of salt

Sugar to taste

A little whipping cream

Pinch of cocoa powder

Heat the oven to 180°C / 350°F / Gas 4. Firstly, melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl set over simmering water and keep warm.

In another bowl, whisk the eggs until pale and fluffy, then add the sugar and whisk until incorporated completely.

Sift the flour into a bowl, and whisk the melted chocolate into it until you have a smooth sauce. Add the coffee granules or espresso shots.

Fold the whisked egg into the chocolate mixture until completely incorporated.

In a separate bowl, whisk the cream cheese with the sugar until soft and creamy, and then beat in the two eggs, one by one.

Now, pour the chocolate mixture into your baking tin, then pour in the cheesecake mix in loose lines, and swirl them together quickly with a fork. Don’t overdo it – you need that definite swirly look. Bake for 30 minutes, or until it’s set on top. Cover with foil to avoid cracking and allow to cool a little before serving. It will also serve nicely when chilled.

To make the mocha hot chocolate, heat half the milk in a pan, gently, bringing it up to a light simmer, and add the chocolate, whisking until it’s melted.

Mix the cornflour with the rest of the milk, and pour into the bubbling chocolate. Whisk until thick.

Add the coffee granules or espresso shot, and a little pinch of salt to bring out the flavour of the chocolate.

Add sugar if required and keep warm until needed. Just before serving, whip the cream to a firm peak, and pop a spoonful on top of each shot. Dust with cocoa and serve.