Habanero Cheesecake Recipe

A spicy dessert from Food Network chef Nadia G. "This is one of the best desserts I ever created. What I love most about it is that it’s a fantastic basic recipe for any kind of cheesecake. Replace the key lime juice with melted chocolate, espresso, or keep it simple with just vanilla bean seeds, then top it with fresh berries."


1-1/2 cups chocolate wafers
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup water
1-3/4 cups raw sugar
1/2 cup key lime juice
1/3 cup candied hibiscus flowers (or dried cranberries as alternative)
5 egg yolks
1 tbsp grated key lime zest
1/2 red habanero pepper, minced, no seeds
2 cups whipped cream cheese, softened
1 cup mascarpone cheese
5 egg whites
3 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp white vinegar

Resealable plastic bag
Medium mixing bowl
Springform pan
Small pot
2 large mixing bowls
Hand-held electric beater
Large roasting pan



Step 1: Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Step 2: Put the chocolate wafers in a resealable bag and crush them into fine crumbs.

Step 3: Pour the crumbs into a medium sized bowl and add the melted unsalted butter; mix.

Step 4: Mold the crust onto the bottom of a springform pan, about 1/4″ thick. Bring it up the sides a little bit, about 1/2″.

Step 5: Bake for 8-10 minutes. Let it cool on the counter in the springform pan.

Key Lime Syrup

Step 1: Bring the water and 3/4 cup of raw sugar to a boil in a small pot over medium heat.

Step 2: Add 1/4 cup of key lime juice and the candied hibiscus flowers; stir. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for 10 minutes, until slightly reduced.

Cheese Filling

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Step 2: In a large bowl combine the egg yolks, 1 cup of raw sugar, 1/4 cup of key lime juice, key lime zest, and habanero, and whisk together.

Step 3: Add the cream cheese and mascarpone; then mix with an electric beater for another 15 seconds. Set aside.

Step 4: In another large mixing bowl, using clean blades, whip the egg whites with the granulated sugar and the white vinegar until stiff peaks form. Delicately fold the meringue into the cheese mixture for 15-20 seconds. Don’t overmix. Pour evenly into the springform pan, over the chocolate crust.


Step 1: Place 2 layers of aluminum foil in a large roasting pan. Place the cheesecake in the middle of the foil. Bring the foil up the sides of cheesecake to create a barrier wall around the cake; do not cover the top of the cheesecake. Pour water into the roasting pan, halfway up the sides of the cake (hence the impermeable foil barrier). Bake for 1 to 1-1/2 hours.

Step 2: Allow the cake to cool completely on your countertop; then refrigerate overnight.

Step 3: Serve each slice of this cheesecake drizzled with a tablespoon or two of key lime syrup.

See more recipes by Nadia Giosia.

Reprinted with permission from Nadia G’s Bitchin’ Kitchen: Cookin’ For Trouble (2011 Ballantine Books).

Ryan Szulc