Cinnamon Roll Cheesecake

A cheesecake recipe on a Monday, Rachel? Seriously? Um, yes 'seriously.' You do realize that this is a cinnamon roll cheesecake recipe and that cinnamon buns + cream cheese + breakfast, and that you should always eat breakfast on a Monday? You see my logic? Also, let's be honest: cheesecakes take a little bit of forethought due to all that cream cheese buying and overnight chilling. I want you to be prepared. I want you to make this Friday night so that come Saturday morning, your brunch situation can get serious real fast.
I'm not saying you should definitely make this cheesecake this coming weekend, but I'm saying you should definitely think about making this cheesecake this coming weekend. I don't know. Just my advice.

This whole thing began Friday afternoon when I had four orphaned packages of cream cheese lying about in the fridge. I didn't want them to get picked off one by one for use in bagels or something lame like that so cheesecake was the obvious option. What happened next was a sort of puzzle piece. I found this recipe from The Girl Who Ate Everything for cinnamon roll cheesecake and I knew it had to happen. Upon closer inspection, though, I decided that her ratio of cheesecake filling to "cinnamon bun" (more of a cookie-like vanilla cake) was not weighted enough to the cheesecake side for my preferences. That led me to this recipe for Junior's cheesecake which (you probably won't remember but is true) I brought from Times Square (ish) all the way to Columbus Circle for my breakfast last time I was in New York. When combined and further improved (adding pecans, decreasing brown sugar), the final product was mind-blowing. When I tasted it my reaction was predictable for such a cobbled together recipe:
"What am I eating? Is this heavenly cheesecake? Is this mind-boggling coffee cake? Is this a cinnamon bun that has gone on vacation to NYC and brought home some goods?
The cheesecake is light without being airy and tart without being sour. If the texture of...a good chocolate mousse pie that met a package of cream cheese, lost its chocolate flavor, and had a baby. That baby would be this Okay. Maybe we'll try that again in a more reasonable frame of mind: this cheesecake is everything I dream of when I imagine my ideal cheesecake: depth, heart, quality, and a good sense of humor. No, wait. That's what I want in a man. Wow. Tell me again why it's so much easier to find an attractive, solid, sweet, substantial cheesecake than it is to find an attractive, solid, sweet, substantial man? Oh yeah, because (unlike men) if all the good ones are taken, you can just make another one from scratch. So there's that.
Anyway. This epitome of "perfection" may have come about because I accidentally pitched an extra eight ounces of cream cheese into the batter and didn't realize the based-off recipe didn't call for it till I was typing up this post. Some of the best inventions have come from mistakes, right? Either way, make this swinger, stat. What are you waiting for?

Cinnamon Roll Cheesecake
makes one massive 9" cheesecake

cake batter:
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 egg
1/2 cup whole milk
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped pecans

4 8-oz packages full-fat cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/3 cups sugar
3 Tablespoons cornstarch
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, room temperature
2/3 cup heavy whipping cream

cinnamon crumb:
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 Tablespoons cinnamon

1/2 cup powdered sugar
several Tablespoons heavy whipping cream

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Wrap the exterior of your cheesecake pan in several layers of tin foil (preparing for the water bath), then grease the inside of the pan.
  2. In a large bowl or stand mixer, prepare the "cake batter" by whipping together the butter and sugar until fluffy, about three minutes. Add the egg, milk, and vanilla. Beat for another minute, then scrape the sides of the bowl. Add in dry ingredients and mix on low speed till thoroughly combined.
  3. Spread half of cake batter into the bottom of the cheesecake pan and reserve the rest for topping later by scooping it into a small bowl.
  4. Wash your stand mixer (or bowl) thoroughly and begin the cheesecake filling by beating 1/3 cup of sugar with one package of cream cheese. Beat well, then scrape down beater and sides of bowl. Add in the next package, then scrape the sides of the bowl. Repeat for remaining two packages of cream cheese. Beat in the remaining sugar and the vanilla. Then beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl between each. Finally, add the whipping cream, mixing only till fully incorporated and being careful not to over-mix. Pour into the cheesecake pan.
  5. In a small bowl combine the brown sugar, butter, and cinnamon. Sprinkle over the top of the cheesecake batter, then follow by dotting the top of the cheesecake batter with the reserved cake batter. Swirl with a knife, cutting deep, but carefully.
  6. Place your cheesecake in a deep roasting pan and add water to the roasting pan until it comes about an inch up the side of your cheesecake. This is a French method called a "bain marie," or water bath and helps the cheesecake cook evenly and helps prevent cracking.
  7. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or and hour and a half until the center of the cheesecake just gently wiggles when you shake it. Check your cheesecake at the 45 minute point and make sure that the top "cake" isn't browning too quickly. If it is already golden brown, cover the cheesecake with foil and continue cooking.
  8. Remove from oven, remove the cheesecake from the water bath and foil, and leave completely alone for 2 hours. When cooled a bit, chill the cheesecake in the fridge overnight or for at least four hours. When chilled, mix glaze ingredients together and drizzle across the top.
Though there are a few more steps to this recipe than I generally prefer to show on this blog, the end result is so charming and so delicious that it is worth every bit of the work. Don't be intimidated by the length of the recipe - each step is simple and I've tried to make the directions as straightforward as it truly is! Just read through the recipe, give yourself plenty of time, and enjoy those ultimately delicious results.


  1. I LOVE THIS SO MUCH! I have been really craving cinnamon rolls but I didn't want to make them. SUCH A GOOD IDEA!

    The Adored Life

    1. Haha! Well I hate to crash your wonderful eating regime but ya know, at least it doesn't involve yeast dough. Haha.

  2. I am LEGIT drooling at these photos. This sounds like a perfect dessert and I need it right now. :)

    1. Haha! Thanks, Mia! That's the trouble with cheesecake, isn't it? You always want it 24 hours after you ought to have begun to make it. :P

  3. Oh this post is not looks HEAVENLY. I didn't know I was craving cheesecake but now I am *definitely* craving cheesecake and when Friday rolls around, I WILL BE PREPARED! Thank you so much for this. Looks delicious!!