Topeka Cheesecake

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Last week, we visited dear friends in Laguna Beach. We enjoyed hot, open-faced crab sandwiches as we gazed down at the charming village and the pounding surf. The gorgeous view was rivaled by the arrival of dessert, a creamy cheese pie, marbled with chocolate and scented with orange. I unashamedly begged for the recipe on the spot. When we returned home, I immediately emailed poor Jim and Jan, reminding them that I “needed” their recipe!

Other than increasing the amount of orange zest, this recipe comes straight from our friends up north. It dates back many years to when both Jim and Larry were completing their residencies in child psychiatry at the Menninger Clinic. Always one to tinker with a recipe, I couldn’t resist renaming it for its roots in Kansas: “Topeka Cheesecake”.


TIP: leave the cream cheese on the counter overnight to insure room temperature.

Serves 8


  • 9 whole graham crackers
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 pinch kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Add the crackers, oats, brown sugar and salt to a food processor. Pulse to break into crumbs.

2. Add the melted butter and vanilla. Pulse until crumbs form.

3. Press into a 9-inch pie plate.

4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.


  • 1 cup low-fat sour cream
  • 3 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Combine the sour cream, sugar and vanilla. Set aside.


  • 12 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 square unsweetened baking chocolate, melted

1. Using a standing mixer with a beater attachment, combine the cream cheese, sugar, eggs, orange zest and vanilla. Beat on medium speed until smooth.

2. Remove 1 cup of filling and place in a small bowl. Add the melted chocolate and mix well.

3. Pour half the plain filling into the crust. Smooth on half the chocolate filling.

4. Pour remaining plain filling into the pie. Smooth on remaining chocolate filling.

5. Bake 30 minutes.

6. Remove pie from oven and spread with topping. Bake 10 minutes more.

7. Cool on a rack, then refrigerate for a minimum of 4 hours before serving.

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17 Responses to Topeka Cheesecake

  1. Elizabeth April 2, 2012 at 8:10 am #

    I just love cheesecake and rarely indulge. You have peaked my desire. What a great recipe.

    • lizthechef April 2, 2012 at 8:43 am #

      It isn’t as rich as “real” cheesecake – treat yourself!

  2. TasteFood April 2, 2012 at 10:20 am #

    I understand why you asked for this recipe. What a great combination of flavors.

    • lizthechef April 2, 2012 at 10:55 am #

      There’s a piece left with your name on it 😉

  3. Wendy Read April 2, 2012 at 10:47 am #

    Beautiful photo Liz! I adore cheesecake and this one only uses 12 ozs of cream cheese which is excellent 🙂 I believe the squares of baking chocolate are 2 oz…I just might sub some dark chocolate I have in the cabinet…this looks so good. It is on my list to make, and thanks so much for posting!

  4. Oui, Chef April 2, 2012 at 12:34 pm #

    Chocolate and orange are among my favorite flavor combos….good for you, snagging this recipe, Liz!

  5. Jayne April 2, 2012 at 1:28 pm #

    This looks great, I too love chocolate and orange together! (do you get Terry’s chocolate orange in US?) I also love cheesecake so this sounds like a must!

    • lizthechef April 2, 2012 at 2:20 pm #

      Not certain what Terry’s chocolate orange is but it sounds good – I buy those chocolate oranges around the holidays. My Mom always put one in my stocking.

  6. Averie @ Averie Cooks April 3, 2012 at 8:00 am #

    Gosh, this looks amazing, Liz! I had to make a pie for a cooking group I’m part of (recipe to follow next week) and this sort of reminds me of that, but in a much more streamlined way and with orange. I bet it’s heavenly!

    Glad you were able to spend time in Laguna!

    • lizthechef April 3, 2012 at 2:57 pm #

      Looking forward to your pie next week!

  7. sippitysup (@sippitysup) April 4, 2012 at 8:44 am #

    Where ever it’s from it’s a beauty. As is Laguna, you lucky soul you. GREG

    • lizthechef April 4, 2012 at 10:48 am #

      Gorgeous place high in the hills – we were above the fog for a while – welcome home, Greg!

  8. Su C July 19, 2013 at 1:41 pm #

    I want to try this dessert out – but on the crust’s directions, step 2 says to add melted butter – but on the ingrdients – there is no butter. Am I missing it? How much do I add?

    • Liz July 19, 2013 at 2:28 pm #

      My recipe is not “Topeka Cheesecake” – so you must have the wrong site. Hope you sort it out OK.

    • Liz July 19, 2013 at 2:34 pm #

      You are right! It was an older post I had forgotten and yes, I missed listing the melted butter. I can’t find my recipe just now but will search for it and get back to you.

    • Liz July 19, 2013 at 2:36 pm #

      It is 5 tablespoons of melted, unsalted butter – I will fix the recipe on my post right now.

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