Junior's Rocky Road Cheesecake

I’ve never been to New York City but if I ever do get there, one of the places I want to visit is Junior’s, home of the #1 New York cheesecake (at least that is their claim!). They now have a book, Junior's Cheesecake Cookbook: 50 To-Die-For Recipes for New York-Style Cheesecake. I got the book about a year ago when I joined a cookbook book club and I’m just now getting around to trying one of the recipes.

I love cheesecake, especially chocolate cheesecake, so the first recipe I’ve attempted is the Rocky Road Cheesecake on page 125. This was a hard choice because all of the recipes look fantastic. A unique feature of this cheesecake is the crust – it is not the traditional graham cracker crust but a sponge cake crust. More time consuming to make but worth it in the end.

Okay, so this entire recipe is time consuming! All the recipes in the book are very precise and the authors discuss every detail that goes into their world-famous cakes - from the type of pans they use to the ingredients - all basic stuff. Was it worth the time and effort? You bet! It was creamy and rich (a small piece goes a long way!), and one of the best I've made. This is a high quality cheesecake that will impress your friends and relatives. I can't wait to try another recipe.

• Junior's Dark Chocolate Sponge Cake Crust
• 1/3 cup sifted cake flour
• 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
• Pinch of salt
• 2 extra-large eggs, separated
• 1/3 cup sugar
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
• 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
• 2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and generously butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan (preferably a nonstick one). Wrap the outside with aluminum foil, covering the bottom and extending all the way up the sides.

2. In a small bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together.

3. Beat the egg yolks in a large bowl with an electric mixer on high for 3 minutes. With the mixer running, slowly add 2 tablespoons of the sugar and beat until thick light yellow ribbons form, about 5 minutes more. Beat in the extracts and the melted chocolate.

4. Sift the flour mixture over the batter and stir it in by hand, just until no more white flecks appear. Now, blend in the melted butter.

5. Now, wash the mixing bowl and beaters really well (if even a little fat is left, this can cause the egg whites not to whip). Put the egg whites and cream of tartar into the bowl and beat with the mixer on high until frothy. Gradually add the remaining sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form (the whites will stand up and look glossy, not dry). Fold about one-third of the whites into the batter, then the remaining whites. Don't worry if you still see a few white specks, as they'll disappear during baking.

6. Gently spread out the batter over the bottom of the pan, and bake just until set and golden (not wet or sticky), about 10 minutes. Touch the cake gently in the center. If it springs back, it's done. Watch carefully and don't let the top brown. Leave the crust in the pan and place on a wire rack to cool. Leave the oven on while you prepare the batter.

For the cheesecake:
• 8 oz. bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate
• Three 8 oz. packages cream cheese (use only full fat)
• 1 1/3 cups sugar
• ¼ c. cornstarch
• 1 TBS. pure vanilla extract
• 2 extra-large eggs
• ¾ c. heavy or whipping cream
• ¾ c. dr-roasted peanuts (preferably unsalted), coarsely chopped

For the Rocky Road topping:
• One 7.5 ounce jar Marshmallow Fluff
• 1 c. miniature marshmallows
• ¼ c. whole dry-roasted peanuts (preferably unsalted)
• 2 oz. bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate, melted

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Generously butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Wrap the outside with aluminum foil, covering the bottom and extending all the way up the sides. Make and bake the cake crust and leave it in the pan. Keep the oven on.

2. Melt the 8 ounces chocolate and set aside to cool. Put one package of the cream cheese, 1/3 cup of the sugar, and the cornstarch in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer on low until creamy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the bowl several times. Blend in the remaining cream cheese, one package at a time, scraping down the bowl after each one. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat in the remaining 1 cup sugar, then the vanilla. Blend in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after adding each one. Beat in the melted chocolate, then the cream, just until completely blended. Don’t overmix! Stir in the chopped peanuts. Gently spoon the batter on top of the crust.

3. Place the cake in a large shallow pan containing hot water that comes about 1 inch up the sides of the springform. Bake until the edges are light golden brown and the top is slightly golden tan, about 1 1/4 hours. Remove the cheesecake from the water bath, transfer to a wire rack, and let cool for 2 hours (just walk away-don't move it). Then, leave the cake in the pan, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until completely cold, preferably overnight or for at least 4 hours.

4. To serve, release and remove the sides of the springform, leaving the cake on the bottom of the pan. Place on a cake plate. Spread the marshmallow fluff over the top and down the sides – but stop before covering the sides completely. Be sure to leave some of the chocolate peeking out near the bottom. Scatter the marshmallows on it, then the whole peanuts. Fit a pastry bag with a small round tip (#2 or #3), spoon in the melted chocolate, and pipe continuous swirls of lines on top, making the lines about 3/8 inch apart. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Slice the cold cake with a sharp straight-edge knife, not a serrated one. Cover any leftover cake and refrigerate or wrap and freeze for up to 1 month.


  1. This looks like a party about to happen.

  2. Quite the pie Phillip! It must taste divine! I might survive a sliver being allergic to cow dairy. Luckily my imagination is not susceptible. Wonderful portrait. You must get NY, NY one spring.

  3. Such a beautiful dessert! We love choc and peanuts in our house, but I'm not sure about the marshmallow -- is it an achingly sweet dessert, or does the chocolate & sponge cake balance that?

  4. When I see a desert like that I'm not thinking just one slice. Nope, I'm thinking the whole lot!!!

  5. All I can say is YUM. I hadn't heard of Junior's until I watched Throwdown with Bobby Flay. I was very surprised that BF won, especially since his assistants didn't even think he'd win. The judges were competitors perhaps?? hmmm Your cheesecake turned out beautifully.

  6. Phillip, CONGRATULATIONS on your photo pick over at Fine Gardening. Beautiful picture!

  7. Phillip, I came upon your blog by way of Di's "Voice in the Garden" and I see that not only are you a Master Gardener; you are a Master Chef, as well.

    This cheesecake is "to-die-for" and you prove it through your photo. I lived in New York City for 16 years and had the good fortune to go over to Juniors a couple of times. What can I say, but very fulfilling and great cheesecake!

    You have a wonderful blog here and I look forward to reading through it some more. Many thanks for posting this wonderful recipe.


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