This chocolate cheesecake pie was my brother’s favorite pie, and he always requested it for his birthday dessert.

Read on to learn more about the wonderful person my brother Greg was and to get the recipe for his pie. It truly is delicious. Several people have contacted me to tell me they made it in his honor, and I am always so touched by these messages.

Enjoy this pie that is part cheesecake and part chocolate pie. And read about Greg, because as long as there are people to remember him and hear his story, he will live on.

For more cheesecake resources and recipes, please check out my Cheesecake Recipes page.

A collage of photographs of my brother and me, taken from overhead, with the uncut chocolate cheesecake pie towards the top of the frame.

What Might Have Been

My brother would have turned forty-six today. I am certain that he would still be living in Charlotte, so we would have driven over and had a wonderful meal with my mom and dad, him and his wife and kids. We’d have played with his dogs—he surely would have had two or three—and checked out his newest gadgets.

He would have worshiped at the Apple alter. Or maybe he would have been an Android guy. Google Glass? He’d have loved it. He would have had the newest, most bleeding edge technology that he could hunt down.

Greg never had the chance to be the wonderful father and husband that I know he would have been. My brother only lived to see thirty-one birthdays, and he was sick for the last three that we celebrated together.

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Closure? Is There Such a Thing?

We grew up in a household where if you didn’t talk about the bad things and just pretended everything was copacetic, then things would be copacetic. We lived by The Law of Attraction’s more pessimistic cousins, The Laws of Selective Attention and Willful Ignorance.

All during Greg’s illness, we never discussed—or at least the two of us never discussed—the “what if you don’t make it” scenario. We hung out on Friday nights, watching movies and listening to Guns N Roses. To this day, I cannot hear Paradise City without thinking of my brother and the whiplash I used to give myself doing the Axel Shuffle, whipping my head around and belting into one of the handles of Greg’s nunchucks.

Even towards the end, when he no longer had the strength to tie his own shoes and his vision was deteriorating, we never had The Conversation.

Even when the head of the bone marrow transplant team stopped visiting him to see how he was doing because he was obviously going to be just another casualty along the road to better and more successful bone marrow transplants, a data point on a graph, we still talked about the future and ended every conversation with “I’ll talk to you tomorrow.”

A photo of a girl and a boy sitting together on a carpet-covered bench. Taken in 1971.

Were we being optimistic, or were we intentionally avoiding what was looming? I think the latter. Part of me wishes that we had had some closure.

A frank discussion, an exchanging of I love yous and a chance to say how much I would miss him when he was gone.

I would like to have that conversation locked away in my memory so I could take it out on occasion and look at it in the light.

The New Car

Just a short few months before he died, he bought a new car. We were all stunned and heartened by the apparent optimism that purchase signaled. His choice was between a sweet little BMW 325i and a Bonneville.

I scratched my head when he drove home the Bonneville, but once he was gone, it became obvious to me that he made his choice with my mom in mind. He must have known she wouldn’t have felt comfortable in the small BMW, so he bought her car and broke it in for her.

She still drives that Bonneville. I think she always will. (Mom now drives an Elantra. She kept the Bonneville for years and years, but she finally let it go.)

I Was a Sister. I Am a Sister.

Driving back to my parents’ house from the hospital on that last day, I remember so many good, Southern people were already at our house, chatting in hushed tones and waiting for us to come home so they could place aluminum foil-wrapped tins and trays into our hands along with the damp-eyed and heartfelt Oh we are so sorry’s.

I found myself in a conversation with a few folks in which we quietly debated which was worse: someone cut down in an instant, or someone who lingers and whose life slowly leaks out, like water from a rusted bucket. We decided that neither way was good.

I found out later that those people had no idea who I was. I was Greg’s sister for all of his 31 years. That is who I was.

Memorial Tattoo for Greg of a guitar and text reading "I hope you had the time of your life!".

That is still who I am, even after all this time.

The first few times I dreamed about my brother after he died, he had That Look about him. The simultaneously bloated and emaciated look of cancer patients on steroids. His hair was stubble. There was still a huge, sutured scar on one side of his head where the surgeons had gone in to try to understand why he was blind.

They never did find an obvious cause.

When I finally was able to dream past the shell of his illness and see Greg as he was before his diagnosis, I woke up smiling. And now, when I see him in dreams, he always looks as he did before I had to learn that BMT didn’t mean Behavior Management Technician but Bone Marrow Transplant.

The vocabulary of cancer is learned quickly, and while numb, but that is another story which has nothing to do with food for the body or for the soul.

My Brother, the Self-Taught Cook

Greg was a great cook, and he helped me learn to cook. I hosted a huge dinner party in my little crack house of a duplex once for which I had made an enormous vat of sauce for manicotti. I kept tasting it and adding herbs and tasting it and adding pepper and tasting it and adding wine, and it just tasted…muddy. I called Greg in a panic and asked him to stop by on his way home from work to tell me what he thought.

He walked in, took a taste, rolling the thick red sauce around in his mouth as if he were a professional sommelier, and said, “It needs sugar.”

A slice of chocolate cheesecake pie and a fork on a plate with the rest of the pie on a pedestal and a photo of my brother and me in the background.

He was right, too.

We used to make elaborate, multi-course meals for mom and dad for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. We’d go to the library and find exotic cookbooks and copy the recipes we wanted to make, and then we’d make them. He was the chef. I was his sous.

The Chocolate Cheesecake Pie: A Magical Pie

Greg never asked for cake on his birthday. For years, his birthday cake was pie. Mrs. Cornwell’s Chocolate Cheese Pie. Two parts cheesecake, one part fudge sauce and one part sweetened sour cream topping adding up to one flavorful, rich, sexy pie.

I always looked forward to his birthday dinners because I knew they would end with That Pie. Now that he is gone, if I’m going to be at Mom and Dad’s for my birthday and she asks me what I’d like for my birthday dessert, I always ask for Greg’s pie.

What do you want for your birthday dessert? Chocolate cheesecake pie. Always.

Close up shot of a slice of cheesecake pie with fudge sauce, head on, on a plate with a blue striped napkin in the background.

Today, I make this chocolate cheese pie in memory of Greg. Of his friendship and his kind, steady, gentle spirit. I love you, brother, and while I most often think about you with a smile, I will miss you for the rest of my life.

If you decide to make this chocolate cheesecake pie, I would love it if you’d let me know. Knowing people love and enjoy this recipe makes me so happy.

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03/07/2024 05:03 pm GMT
A half-eaten slice of chocolate cheesecake pie with a bite on the fork.
Cheesecake, fudge sauce and sweetened sour cream all tucked into a chocolate crust. The best pie in all the land.
a slice of chocolate cheesecake pie

Chocolate Cheesecake Pie

Jennifer Field
This chocolate cheesecake pie is exceedingly rich. And exceedingly tasty. You might be tempted to slice yourself a large wedge, but please don't. Cut a small wedge and enjoy every single bite. You will absolutely need a deep dish pie pan to make this pie. If you don't have one, you could certainly make this in a 9" or 10" spring-form pan.
4.92 from 12 votes
Tried this recipe?Please give it a star rating!
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 5 minutes
Course Cheesecake Recipes
Cuisine American
Servings 12
Calories 575 kcal

Ingredients

For the Crust

  • 2 cups chocolate graham cracker crumbs (I used cute bear-shaped Teddy Grahams)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons espresso powder
  • heavy pinch of fine sea salt
  • 4 oz melted butter

For the Cheesecake

  • 2 8 oz blocks cream cheese softened
  • 4 large eggs
  • ¾ cup to 1 cup sugar (to taste)
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt or to taste
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla paste or 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

For the Fudge

  • 6 oz heavy cream
  • 1 Tablespoon corn syrup
  • 6 oz 60% chocolate chopped finely (or your favorite dark chocolate or chocolate chips)
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla paste or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of fine sea salt

For the Sour Cream Topping

  • 1 ½ cups sour cream
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla paste or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • scant 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

Instructions
 

For the Crust

  • Whir up the cookies in the food processor along with the espresso powder and salt. Make sure the crumbs are nice and fine.
  • Drizzle in the melted butter and process again for a few seconds until the butter is evenly distributed.
  • Press evenly in the bottom and all the way up the sides of a deep dish pie pan (or a good 2″ up the sides of your spring form).
  • Bake at 350F for about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.

For the Cheesecake

  • On low speed, beat the cream cheese until smooth.
  • Add the sugar, and continue to beat until smooth.
  • Add the eggs, salt and vanilla and mix until well incorporated.
  • Pour into your pie crust and bake until all but the very center is set, about 45 minutes.

For the Fudge Sauce

  • Bring the cream, corn syrup and salt just to a boil.
  • Pour over the chocolate and vanilla. Let sit for a minute or two.
  • Whisk slowly until your ganache is lovely and emulsified.
  • Pour/spread evenly onto your just-out-of-the-oven cheesecake.

For the Sour Cream Topping

  • Whisk all ingredients together. Let sit for about 5 minutes so the sugar can dissolve.
  • Whisk again and check to make sure the sour cream mixture is smooth.
  • Carefully spread on top of the fudge sauce, trying not to mix the two layers.
  • Put the pie back in the oven for another 5-10 minutes to set the sour cream.
  • Let cool to room temperature and then chill at least 6 hours or overnight before slicing and serving.

Did You Make Any Changes?

Notes

I’ve done a bit of tinkering to the original pie. The original does not call for any espresso powder. It also calls for a vanilla wafer crust, half as much cheesecake filling, and a jar of fudge sauce for the fudgey part. Feel free to make this either way.
 
In the updated photos, I baked the pie in a 9″ push pan, and it worked out beautifully. Think of it more as a shorter cheesecake than a pie. It works just as well in a deep dish pie pan. If you want to make it in a regular, shallow pie pan, make half as much cheesecake mixture and you should be fine.

Nutrition

Calories: 575kcalCarbohydrates: 47gProtein: 6gSaturated Fat: 22gCholesterol: 151mgSodium: 339mgFiber: 1gSugar: 37g
Keyword chocolate cheese pie, chocolate cheesecake pie, chocolate pie, pie
Did you make this recipe?Please tell us what you loved!

Consider making this chocolate cheesecake pie in honor of someone you love. It is truly excellent. Greg did have impeccable taste.

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110 Comments

  1. Aww, what a beautiful tribute to your brother. I am so sorry for your loss…I wish I knew you all back then because I also jammed out to Guns N Roses :-).

  2. This is just a lovely tribute to your brother. I have an older bother I adore who has just gone through some health issues, that I’m not sure are over. Time will tell. But, besides my hubby and kids, he’s my only family left. The pie looks amazing as well. XO

  3. Jenni,
    I too have a sibling that left us too soon and now I’m full of tears. I will make your brother’s pie (which sounds freakin’ amazin’) for my husband’s family next weekend. I will make it in memory of all those who leave us too soon and leave us with full yet aching hearts. My sister didn’t live long enough for me to find out if we would have been baking buddies as adults. I like to think we would have been a duo like you and your brother.
    Thank you for sharing the story behind the pie. My brother and sister’s best baking fiasco was making Gingerbread Cake for our mother one Mother’s Day when they were young and just being allowed to use the oven. One read the instructions and one mixed. One of them read one 1/4 cup of flour when it should have been 1 1/4 cups of flour. They made Gingerbread Sauce! Our mother had to come down eventually after too many calls up to her (supposed to wait in bed) of “when is it done again?”.

    1. Oh, Sarah, you have made me well up! I am sorry for your loss, truly.

      I hope your family enjoys this pie Very Very much and that it helps to connect you to those gone too soon.

      I love the gingerbread sauce story! lol xoxo

  4. I don’t normally read the stories to a recipe but for some reason I can’t explain I began to read yours. I was deeply moved as I lost my brother to cancer in 2009 so I know how you feel. There are recipes he loved and every time I make them I think of him. Your story is very similar to mine and paying tribute to him by creating this beautiful pie is very touching, I hope in heaven they get to eat their favourite foods, I’m going to make this and call it ‘Heavenly Greg Pie’ thank you for sharing your story and this recipe. Bless.

    1. Thank you so much for commenting, Nova. I am sorry you lost your brother, too. I really hope you enjoy Heavenly Greg Pie and that you think of your brother as you make it and share it.

  5. Jen – I had no idea you lost a Greg too. I am so very very sorry that we have this in common but I am glad I got to know you and love you virtually before this additional connection. Hope we can meet in person and cook and cherish our lost Gregory’s sometime very very soon XOXO

  6. 5 stars
    What a lovely tribute Jenni, I’m in tears as I remember my brother who also died of cancer. His favorite was cherry pie — I’ll bet they are both enjoying slice after slice these days. You two are so darling in the photos, I’m glad you included them so we get to know Greg a bit better. Hugs to you sweet friend!

    1. Thank you, Jane. It’s so weird to lose a contemporary, you know? We expect our parents to die before we do, so while it’s sad, it’s the way things are “supposed to” be. But when someone you’ve grown up with dies, it is just so wrong. He was a wonderful brother and a wonderful person. Maybe he has found your brother and their trading pies and stories of their bratty sisters. 🙂 xo

  7. 5 stars
    Jenni, what a beautiful message to your brother. I read this while I was at my hair appointment today, and my crazy hair dresser kept watching me wipe tears from my eyes. I am sure she thought I was even crazier. I do not know what it is like to lose a sibling, and can only imagine the bond that you feel all the time. Thinking of you as your celebrate your brother’s life, his memories that live on forever and of course pie.

    1. Aw, Denise. You made me get all welled up. <3 I feel like every time I share this post, more folks get to know him a little bit and keep his memory alive. Makes me very happy.

  8. Jenni, what a beautiful tribute to your brother! He is clearly with you and I am sure that there are many favorite recipes you make in the kitchen knowing Greg is peering over your shoulder.

    I love this pie, too, and look forward to giving it a try!

    HUGE HUGS!!!!

    xoxo

  9. 5 stars
    Thank you for sharing your story about your brother. You brought tears to my eyes and you made me think about my nephew”s daughter who lost her brother to cancer this week. He was only 11 and she is 9. Of course, we are all concerned about how this will affect her over her life but hopefully she will have some wonderful memories of him like you do of your brother.
    The pie looks delicious!

    1. Heartbreaking for your family to lose a child so young, Linda. I too hope she has some lovely memories of him. The pie is delicious–I hope you give it a try sometime. Very rich–and worth every calorie!

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