By Special Request: Gluten-Free Limoncello Dark Chocolate Cheesecake

My oldest son, one of our children who cannot eat gluten, chocolate limoncello cheesecake 2recently sent (via text message, naturally) a special request. He discovered Perugina Dark Chocolate Limoncello candy bars, a flavor combination he thinks sounds pretty delicious. The candy bar’s ingredients, however, are as follows: sugar, chocolate liquor, cocoa butter, natural flavors (wheat), sunflower lecithin, artificial flavor. Could I, he wondered, come up with some dark chocolate, limoncello treat that is also gluten-free? Perhaps cheesecake, he added? Those proverbial wheels started spinning in my mind and I drew from various cheesecake recipes I’ve made in the past to come up with the dark chocolate limoncello cheesecake I made for his birthday this month.

chocolate limoncello cheesecake

I made the cake twice, actually. The first time I made it, the limoncello presence was so strong that the cake actually had that sharp bite that accompanies the a sip of undiluted liquor. The cake baked well and its texture was creamy, but we agreed that it could do with a less aggressive limoncello attitude. The second time I baked the cake, I used 1/3 cup less limoncello and achieved that undemanding, yet pleasantly noticeable, flavor of limoncello. I also had to use a different gluten-free chocolate cookie than I usually use for the chocolate crust. For some reason, I couldn’t find any Pamela’s Extreme Chocolate Mini-Cookies (which are apparently now called Simple Bites Extreme Chocolate), and I checked stores in two cities (ATX and SATX). I used Glutino double chocolate chip cookies instead. The crust turned out as delicious as ever.

chocolate limoncellow cheesecake 3

I used Paula’s Texas Lemon (an award-winning locally bottled and distributed limoncello) for both cheesecakes. In the past, however, I’ve used Paolucci limoncello. Both are gluten-free, (according to email answers I received from each company in response to my query about whether the companies use wheat or potato-based distilled liquor to make the drink).

paula's texas lemon

As always, I covered the bottom of my springform pan with foil, then sprayed the bottom and sides with coconut oil to prevent the cake from sticking to the pan (even though I have a non-stick springform pan), and to allow for easy removal and transfer of the cake from the bottom of the springform pan to an attractive platter when I’m ready to serve it.

Gluten-Free Dark Chocolate Limoncello Cheesecake


1 8 oz package of Glutino double chocolate chip cookies (an 8 oz
package of Kinnikinnick chocolate animal cookies will work, as well).
4 tbls melted butter

-Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
-Place a pan of water on the lower rack of the oven (to keep the oven environment moist while the cheesecake is baking).
-Prepare an 8.5 inch spring-form pan by lining the bottom with  foil, then placing snapping it into the pan sides.
-Grease the bottom and sides of the pan with butter or oil (do this
step even if you are using a non-stick pan).
–In a food processor, process the cookies until they form
fine crumbs.
–Add the melted butter, and stir together until well blended.
–Press the cookie / butter mixture into the bottom of the pan.
–Place the pan in the oven and cook about 10 minutes.
–Let cool.

Cheesecake Filling

2 8 oz packages of 365, Challenge, Horizon, or Organic Valley cream
1 cup organic sugar
8 oz of sour cream
4 eggs
1 cup of limoncello

-In a food processor, blend the cream cheese, sugar, and sour
cream until smooth.
-Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.
-Using the food chute on the food processor, drizzle the
limoncello slowing into the cream cheese batter while
steadily operating the food processor.
-Process until the mixture is well blended.
-Pour the batter onto the baked crust in the pan, then place
the cake pan onto a cookie sheet or larger pan to catch any
drips that may fall during baking.
-Bake at 350 degrees until the edges are set but the middle is
still a little shiny but still a little jiggly.
-Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.

Hint: This batter is very wet so the cake may take at least an hour to bake.

Dark Chocolate Ganache Topping

4 oz 63% or 70% bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tsp unsalted butter

-In a small pan, heat the cream and butter until hot and at
the point of boiling, but not boiling.
-Remove the cream from heat; place the chocolate pieces in
the cream and let sit for a minute.
-Stir the melting chocolate into the cream until the
chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth.
-Pour the ganache evenly over the top of the cheesecake.
-Place the cheesecake in the refrigerator and let cool for
several hours, or over night, before removing from the pan
and serving.



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