5 from 3 votes

Maida Heatter Bull’s Eye Cheesecake

Bull's Eye Cheesecake with a chocolate graham cracker crust on a glass cake stand

The title of Maida Heatter’s new book sums up why I love my job, Happiness is Baking. When I am sad, I bake! When I am celebrating, I bake! No matter where my mood starts out, I’m always carried to a place of joy as I make my way through a recipe.

Maida Heatter has lead me on so many journeys in the kitchen that they are literally countless. I have nearly all of her books and was so thrilled to find out that at the happy age of 102, she has a new one for all of us bakers to enjoy.

I went to a classic recipe, the Maida Heatter Bull’s Eye Cheesecake, because it is so striking and delicious. I believe she developed this recipe for one of her first books in 1974. The recipe stands alone and needs nothing but a plate and fork, but sometimes I just can’t leave well enough alone and I draped the whole thing in a glossy ganache. 

Bull's Eye Cheesecake with a chocolate graham cracker crust on a glass cake stand, draped in ganache.

You can watch me make the Maida Heatter Bull’s Eye Cheesecake and pour the ganache over the top for a perfectly smooth finish in my instagram videos. Maida Heatter and her publisher have graciously allowed me to share the recipe, which is below.

You can also find my Show Stopping Cheesecake Class on Craftsy, where I show this technique and all kinds of other simple and fancy cheesecakes. Check out my essential cheesecake making equipment in my Amazon shop.

Bull's Eye Cheesecake with a chocolate graham cracker crust on a wire rack.
Bull's Eye Cheesecake with a chocolate graham cracker crust on a wire rack, draped in ganache.
Three slices of Bull's Eye Cheesecake with a chocolate graham cracker crust, draped in ganache.

Thank you to Maida Heatter for graciously sharing her wisdom and this recipe. Thank you to her publisher Little, Brown and Company for sending the book!

Bull's Eye Cheesecake draped in ganache on a cake stand with wooden pie server

Bull’s Eye Cheesecake

This beautiful bull's eye cheesecake recipe is by Maida Heatter, a true legend. She and her publisher graciously allowed me to post her recipe here. I used my chocolate graham cracker crust recipe for a little more substance and also went a step further, draping the whole thing in chocolate ganache.
5 from 3 votes
Author: Maida Heatter


Chocolate Graham Cracker Crust (Zoë's Recipe)

  • 9 (140g) full sized graham crackers
  • 4 tbsp (57g) unsalted butter melted
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • pinch salt

Cheesecake Batter (All Ingredients Should be at Room Temperature)

  • 2 lbs (907g) cream cheese*
  • 1/4 cup (60g) sour cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract make your own
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup (150g) sugar for the white striped batter
  • 2/3 cup (150g) brown sugar for the chocolate striped batter
  • 1 tsp instant espresso or coffee powder
  • 2 tsp dark cocoa powder I used 1 tablespoon for a more intense color and flavor

Zoë's Ganache (Optional)

  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tbsp brewed espresso or 2 tsp espresso powder
  • 1 lb (454g) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate finely chopped
  • ~1/4 cup (57g) solid coconut oil




  • In a Food Processor, pulverize the graham crackers until they are powdered. Add the remaining ingredients and blend until the mixture is coated evenly with the butter. Firmly press the crust in the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for about 12-15 minutes or until it looks dry. Allow to cool as you prepare the batter.

Cheescake Batter

  • Beat the cream cheese until smooth with the paddle attachment of your stand mixer, on medium-low speed. Mix in the sour cream, vanilla and almond extracts and salt. Scrape the bowl often and make sure the mixture is smooth before continuing. Add the eggs, one at a time.
  • Divide the batter into two bowls. Add the granulated sugar to one bowl, mix well until sugar is dissolved. Add the brown sugar, espresso and cocoa powder to the second bowl and mix well until sugar is dissolved.

Layer the Batters

  • Pour 3/4 cup of the cocoa batter onto the center of the cooled crust. Pour 3/4 cup of the white batter into the center of the cocoa batter in the pan. Pour 3/4 of the cocoa batter into the center of the white batter in the pan. Repeat this process until you've used all the batter, going back and forth with the two colors. The batter will spread and some of the stripes will be submerged, but you will end up with a bull's eye pattern on top and striped when it is cut. You can watch me make this in my Craftsy Cheesecake Class.
  • Place the cheesecake in a water bath, tent and vent with foil. Bake for about 90 minutes or until the top is set and slightly puffed up. Remove from the oven, run a knife around the cake and allow to cool in the water bath, so it cools slowly. See this process in my Craftsy Cheesecake Class.
  • Remove from pan by waving the pan over the open flame or hot coils of your stove, run the knife around the edge again and invert the cake on to a plastic covered flat disk (cardboard round or the false bottom of a tart pan work well). Invert the cake onto an 8-Inch Cardboard Cake Circle that fits the bottom exactly. If you are not covering in ganache, you can invert directly onto the serving plate. Refrigerate until ready to cover in ganache.


  • Heat the cream and espresso until simmering, turn off heat. Add the chopped chocolate and coconut oil, swirl until the chocolate is submerged in the hot cream, allow to sit for 3 minutes. Gently whisk until smooth. Allow to cool until thick and just about room temperature. 
  • Place the cheesecake on a cooling rack, over a parchment lined baking sheet and pour the ganache over the cake. See my instagram or Craftsy class for instructions on how to pour it into a perfectly smooth sheet.
  • Allow to sit several minutes before moving, then refrigerate the cheesecake still on the rack. Run a knife or spatula under the cake and move to a serving plate. Keep refrigerated until ready to cut and serve.


*Philadelphia is Maida’s go-to cream cheese brand and mine too!
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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277 thoughts to “Maida Heatter Bull’s Eye Cheesecake”

  1. What a beautiful dessert—and then a surprise inside\ when cut. It would make such a wonderful presentation. Nice touch to add the chocolate ganache–adding chocolate is always good!

  2. I went to your instagram page but couldn’t find this recipe on it or the cheesecake removal. The links took me to your page but didn’t know how to find the ones you mentioned.

  3. This is so beautiful! That ganache?! Those dreamy cheesecake swirls ??! Would love to win a copy of the gorgeous book as well.

  4. What a gorgeous cheesecake! Adding ganache is a brilliant idea. Maida Heatter’s books were some of my first cookbooks.

  5. Wonderful that Maida has a new cookbook coming out. This recipe looks like a keeper—simple yet impressive. Thank you!

  6. Looks scrumptious… as well as beautiful! Everything you do is so artistically gorgeous! I walk away thinking I need to make that… and definitely eat it. Ha! Thank you for sharing!

  7. Cheesecake is definitely my Achilles Heel!

    I’ve never tried brown sugar in cheesecake but I can see how it would enhance the flavor of the chocolate swirl. I will have to try this recipe for sure.

    Thanks for this chance.

  8. I mentioned her name to my mom this morning and lo and behold she conjured up three cookbooks that I could have! I can’t wait to get started on trying out some of her recipes.

  9. I don’t see a link to her new cookbook? Am I missing it? Are these all new recipes except the cheesecake you show from 1974? I have all her books, but I don’t want to buy a book of the same that I already have. It’s hard to believe, (I do love her), that she is still developing new recipes at over 102!

  10. You always make it look so easy, Zoe! I’ve loved Maida Heatter and her recipes for decades. Those Gingerful Biscotti!

  11. Your anecdote in the beginning of this post was such a reminder to me about why I love to be creative in the kitchen!
    Also harkened a scene from the movie Waitress to mind, when Keri Russell is baking a bunch of pies and they all flash by as she’s telling us why she bakes and her unique names for the creations, it’s a film that makes me cry. And that’s such a beautiful book, the cake is a looker too! How amazing to still be writing and baking, doing all the things that bring her joy at 103 years young??!! Incredible. Thank you for sharing your talents and passion with us (the sometimes faceless void that feels like the interwebs). And, it’s funny, my salty Gramma Iris ALWAYS says let’s eat dessert first!!!

  12. So beautiful! Maida Heatter’s recipes were a part of my childhood. Her new book will be a gift to the world!

  13. Your baking is always so inspiring Zoë! I definitely do some baking already, but would always love to do more, thank you for inspiring me!

  14. This is absolutely beautiful! You never cease to amaze me!
    (Sorry if this is a duplicate, I’m not sure if my first comment went through)

  15. I love how unique and whimsical the cheesecake looks on the inside! Also, thank you for posting Instagram stories showing how-to’s of your recipes. They’re very helpful and inspiring to watch!

  16. I’ve never seen a cheesecake like this before! Nor have I seen one baked in a regular pan before. You’ve given me a lot to think about

  17. I feel the same way about baking. I bake when I’m happy, I bake when I’m sad, I bake when I’m stressed.

  18. So inspired by all of your creations! Stunning! Can’t wait for my new kitchen to be finished so I can try more of your recipes. Missing being able to bake right now!

  19. I accidentally stumbled upon your site & ended up staying up late, marveling over your beautiful pastries. What an inspiration! 🙂

  20. Wow, I was just thinking yesterday to make cheesecake but went with regular cake instead. This looks like a winner recipe to try next.

  21. This is absolutely gorgeous and that ganache looks divine! One of my favorite things about you is how you find a way to take a recipe to the next level. Wow!

  22. Absolutely love this technique and visual effect to the cheesecake. And the ganache truly makes it elegant!!
    Maida Hatter is an icon and pastry arts! I would love to add her book to my collection ..

  23. Your bakes make my mouth water just looking at them! Your son is a lucky one to be able to pop in and grab a bite of something delicious whenever you bake 🙂 thank you for sharing your skills and for always including such lovely photos and videos to follow!

  24. Dear Zoe
    So wonderful that another Maida Heatter book is out! And that you have taken her gorgeous cheesecake to another level ! The world is a better and sweeter place with dessert cuisine masters like you and Ms. Heatter bringing us these beautiful creations. Although she has had many honorifics, I happen to like ‘Queen of Cakes’ …. and it works for you too!

  25. It looks amazing (like everything you make actually ). I love watching your videos as everything seems always so easy.

  26. This looks absolutely amazing!! I can’t wait to try it! Love watching you bake, u always have great music

  27. Maida is my baking guru and has been since I found her baking books many years ago. I grew up with her instructions. I would love a copy of this book. Maida means the world to me

  28. My family loves cheesecake! I have read some of Maida Heatter’s recipes. Would love to have one of her books.

  29. Okay, that confirms it. You are now my go-to-girl for baking recipes. You are inspired and inspiring! Thank you for honoring the craft of baking and elevating it to an art while still making it fun and unintimidating! Let’s make a pact to still be baking when we’re over 100!

  30. What a superstar dessert! Can’t wait to try it, because you make it look easy! Would love to win the book.

  31. I have love Maida Heatter’s books for nearly fifty years. My copy of her first book was a paperback and ended up falling apart with use. Her recipes always work well. It’s impossible to pick a favorite. I’m delighted that she has a new book.

  32. This cheesecake looks divine. I love how elegant a simply ganache can create on a dessert.
    I’m beginning to dabble in the world of baking and have never heard of Maida Heatter. However that will change soon with a bit or research. Thanks for sharing one of her recipes!

  33. I am so happy to recently have found your Instagram anand website. I love all of your creativity and how you pay hommage to your “greats.” Thank you for sharing and doing this giveaway!

  34. So impressive. Can’t wait to make it. I was also intrigued by a recipe in the book for David’s Cookies. Great giveaway!

  35. This looks soooo good! So smooth and simple on the outside but has a surprise on the inside. I want to make this for my family

  36. When I was 18, I was lost and unsure what to do with life. After finishing high school, and before entering college, I took on my first full-time job. It was an incredible experience and one I was glad to have had before entering college. That first job was also my gateway into cookbooks and a passion for cooking. Next door to my job was an antique-shop where I stumbled across a 1977 version of Maida’s Book of Great Cookies. Through Maida’s words I fell in love with cookbooks; the places they could take me and the lessons they could teach me about life and world and those inhabiting it.

  37. Wow, what a cool looking cheesecake. It kind of had a beatnik vibe. I would love to make it for my next family gathering. We all love cheesecake and always have at least one on hand. I’ll have to check out your Instagram to see how it’s made. Thanks so much to both you and Maida for sharing the recipe and the giveaway.

  38. I stumbled upon your Instagram page and fell down the rabbit hole. Immediately made your chocolatrly chocolate cake with Vietnamese coffee whipped cream. Unbelievable. Wasn’t quite as perfect as yours do making again for my three boys this week. Thanks for all your beautiful work and inspiring videos.

  39. I’ve never been very good at baking but I’m sure going to give some of your recipes a try. I’m so excited about finding your blog! Thank you for sharing!

  40. Maida’s Baking books were some of the first I purchased! Delicious, classic recipes with great recipe titles. And your added flourish of the ganache topppig is perfection!

  41. I was drooling the moment I saw this cake on IG. I love that you finished it with the ganache! I took your Artisan Breads in 5 Minutes class when you just released the book, way before we could learn online!!

  42. Kudos to Ms Heatter for being the ‘Queen of Cakes’ and gracing our dessert lives for so long! I am a decades-long fan of hers and also have been following you Zoe for years! What better accoutrement for the fabulous Cheesecake than a robe of chocolate!! Thank you Thank you!!

  43. This looks yummy! I’ve made a chocolate marble cheesecake for years, and this looks just as good.

  44. I agree with your first statement that the cake is delicious without any adornments but there is no such thing as too much chocolate!

  45. Cheesecake is one of my favorites, and this recipe is definitely on my to-make list. Thank you for this terrific give-away.

  46. I really need to up my ganache skills. I can make a perfect Sacher cake for my husband’s birthday, but I just cannot nail the ganache. This looks like a good way to practice without dirtying quite as many bowls as a Sachertorte!

  47. I have several of her cookbooks and love them. Her instructions are very clear and specific, insuring success.

  48. I have always loved Maida Heatter’s books – I have never made this cheesecake, but that is about to change! So excited to hear of her new book. And inspired! The ganache topping is exquisite!

  49. Can’t wait to make this recipe. Thank you for a great give-away
    (My second post – after 1/2 hour first one didn’t appear)

  50. Oh my, such a wonderful cheesecake. The way Maida gets the bullseye is reminiscent of doing acrylic pouring techniques in painting. Only here you can eat your “yummy creation”. The ganache just makes it more decadent and delightful!

  51. Looks amazing. I am new to your newsletter and am glad I found you. I took your kitchen Instagram tour. I love your kitchen! Good luck to everyone.

  52. The ganache does add a lot of elegance to the cheesecake. Can’t wait to try it. I have your cheesecake class but haven’t had time to watch it yet. I am hoping to watch and try before my daughter comes home for a visit from Hawaii since she loves cheesecake!

  53. I have been using the grace of the internet to bake but I hope now I Ccan start using cook books!!!

  54. I have been using the grace of the internet to bake but I hope now I Ccan start using cookbooks! Love your insta tutorials

  55. She is the Julia Child of pastry! To this day, revert to her books for pastry for family and dinner guests………..

  56. What a pretty cheesecake! It would be fun to win a copy of the book – I agree with the title that “Happiness is Baking”!

  57. What an amazing cheesecake and what an awesome giveaway! I always look forward to recipes from you and light up every time I see an email from you 🙂

  58. I just got the new Maida Heatter book, ‘Happiness is Baking’, from the library for review – prior to purchasing. An outstanding book. This cheesecake and the method for creating the design sound like fun to create. Your addition of the ganache looks marvelous. I have also taken your Cheesecake class on Craftsy, now Blueprint, last year. An outstanding class. I am a practiced cheesecake baker but I learned several new things as a class participant – Thank you.

  59. I am a newbie subscriber having found your interview on Kitchn to which I have been subscribing to for some time.
    I was blown away with your interpretations in desserts. As we all know we eat with eyes first and you succeed 10 fold without me lifting the fork to my mouth!
    I have not heard of Haddie but I was equally impressed she created another recipe in addition producing another cookbook at the tender age of 102. I look forward to trying both you and Haddies recipes!

    Continued success to both of you!

  60. The Maida Heatter cookbook would be treasured by my granddaughter who loves to bake with me. What an inspiration this amazing lady is. We love to try new creations in the kitchen when she spends some time with me.

  61. The surprise of cutting into that ganache covered cheesecake and finding that bull’s eye/swirl would be wonderful.

  62. I didn’t think it could get much better than a Maida Heatter cheesecake, but you’ve raised the bar once again, Zoë’. Amazing!

  63. Eat dessert first is my life philosophy. I have 2 of Maida’s baking books that I bought used. Her book of Great American Desserts and her Cakes baking books had been loved by others before coming to me to love them anew. They are classics and contain tested recipes that can be trusted. I love a little background with recipes I make. That’s another layer of interest that draws you in to making a dessert – when a recipe has a little history, explanation, or description of when it was served and to whom. I read baking books like novels and love when there’s more than just a recipe.

  64. I can’t get enough of Maida Heatter! Th his beautiful cheese cake is just a TEASE of her new book. Love, love,love!

  65. Hi Zoe,
    I’m in love! The bulls eye cake is gorgeous. It is a showstopper. Thinking of the variations: red, white and blue, for the Fourth. Red and Green for Christmas.It is so original. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  66. This looks delicious and has me craving desert at 5am. It helps that I’m 7 month pregnant and already had a sweet tooth. I think this looks delicious with or without ganache. Can’t wait to bake for a celebration.

  67. Holy Cheesecake! What a beautiful, delicious use of simple ingredients! She’s truly “Master of Confection,” planning on making this beauty this weekend! Thank you for sharing the recipe!

  68. Looks fantastic! Love your recipes, they’re so inspiring and really get me started baking. Thank you for sharing your expertise!!

  69. I think that I might actually have the magazine article that this was first posted in! Now, I shall have to go through my old clippings and check, otherwise it will bug me! Thank You for sharing this recipe!

  70. I have all of Maida’s cookbooks and literally learned to bake from her since I’ve been married….almost 40 years! My husband even replaced 3 of the most used, dog eared books one year! I would love to win her newest book to complete my collection! Thanks for appreciating all that she is and for your changes that look amazing for this cheesecake!

  71. This cheesecake (and it’s many variations) is always the hit of the party and I often get not-so-subtle hints to bring it to the next gathering. Sour cream is a new addition – not in my old edition, but I’ll bet it tastes great. My friends and family will happily taste-test another one.

  72. What an absolutely beautiful cheesecake. I’ve never attempted making anything this pretty before.

  73. Looks gorgeous and delicious. I love the technique of pouring the two color batters, one “inside” the next to make the rings. Easy but makes for a WOW when served.

  74. This sounds positively delectable. And me with such a cheesecake fetish. I definitely have to try this.

  75. Maida Heatter’s cookie cookbook has a place of prominence on my book shelf. I still make the recipe for Supremes when I need a big batch of chocolate goodies to share. So very pleased about a new cookbook from this master treat maker!

  76. Sounds devine and perfect for my BFF 50th Birthday afternoon tea. I’ll make it anyway but would love to win a copy of that wondrous cookbook.

  77. I love cheesecake and this one looks delicious! Don’t have a pan like the one you used but will order it now.

  78. I have her very first book (and several others). I never got the last one . Always love your posts here and Instagram!

  79. I literally just made a cheesecake yesterday! Now planning to give that one away and go back to the grocery store so that I can make this one – it’s so gorgeous!

  80. I had never heard of this baker but can’t wait to try this recipe. I am a home baker and I love little challenges! I’d probably make it without the ganache so we can taste the layers and different flavors of cheesecake properly. And of course I would love to win the book! Thank you for sharing the recipe.

  81. 5 stars
    Thank you so much for sharing the recipe for this Cheesecake. My sister and I had a great time and the cake was just delectable!

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