¼cupKahlua(may be substituted for additional espresso if choosing not to use alcohol)
Whipped Mascarpone Topping
1 ¼cupheavy cream,chilled
Preheat the oven to 325℉. Prepare a 10-inch springform pan by spraying the sides with cooking spray and set aside.
In a food processor, blend the vanilla wafers and ladyfingers until they are fine crumbs, and then add the melted butter and pulse together. This should resemble damp sand.
Pour the crumb mixture into the prepared springform pan and press evenly into the pan. Use the bottom of a flat glass or a flat measuring cup to really press it in well and get a nice, even crust.
Bake for 8 minutes and allow to cool completely.
Add the softened cream cheese to the mixing bowl of a stand mixer and beat with a paddle at medium/high speed for about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and beat for 30 seconds more.
Add the mascarpone and sugar and mix at medium/low speed until just combined. Scrape the bowl again and mix for 30 seconds.
Add eggs and beat on low speed until combined, about 30 seconds-1 minute. Scrape the bowl again.
Add espresso, Kahlua, and vanilla extract. Beat until just combined. At this point, your batter should be smooth and fairly runny.
Prepare The Pan
Using 18-inch heavy-duty aluminum foil, carefully wrap the outside of the springform pan with four sheets of foil. You can use regular foil, but it may take a couple more sheets to ensure the water does not get into the pan.
Place the wrapped pan in a deep roasting pan. You can alternatively use a baking sheet, so long as the sides are about 2 inches deep.
Add ½ of the cheesecake batter to the springform pan on top of the cooled crust. Quickly dip both sides of the ladyfingers into the brewed coffee and layer them across the cheesecake batter until it is mostly covered. Top with the remaining half of the cheesecake batter.
Bake The Cheesecake
Using very hot water, add water to the baking pan until it reaches halfway up the pan. Carefully move the pan to the center rack of the oven.
Bake for 1 hour before checking the cheesecake’s consistency. A slight jiggle of the pan (while still in the oven) should tell you if it’s ready or needs more time. The cheesecake should be jiggly but not liquid. If it seems very liquidy still, give it 15 more minutes and check it again.
Once the cheesecake is set yet still jiggly, turn the oven off but leave the cheesecake in the oven for another hour or so until the oven has cooled down. Resist the temptation to open the oven during this time! The purpose of this step is to allow the cheesecake to cool slowly as the oven cools. Doing this will prevent it from cracking, as one of the biggest reasons cheesecakes crack is the drastic temperature change going from the hot oven into the much cooler kitchen.
Once the oven and the cheesecake are cooled, remove from the oven and carefully remove the foil lining the pan. Chill in the fridge for at least 6 hours.
Before serving, run a knife around the edge of the pan to ensure an easy release when the springform is removed.
Whipped Mascarpone Topping
In a large bowl, beat the cold mascarpone cheese until smooth. Slowly add in the heavy cream until incorporated and not lumpy. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.
Add the powdered sugar and vanilla and switch to the whisk attachment. Whip the mixture until fluffy and medium-stiff peaks form.
Either smooth the cream or pipe it over the top of the chilled cheesecake and dust it with cocoa powder. This cheesecake is best served right after topping. If waiting to serve, do not dust with cocoa powder until ready to serve.