Nutella Polka Dot Cheesecake with a Chocolate Hazelnut Crust
* This recipe can easily be doubled and baked in a 9 or 10-inch spring form pan for a larger/standard-sized cheesecake. Baking time may need to be increased a little.
* To toast the hazelnuts, place on a baking sheet and bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes; the skins will loosen, the nuts may split a little, and they will become very fragrant.
Preheat the oven to 350. Wrap a small spring form pan (7 inches in diameter, with 2 1/2 inch-high sides) with heavy foil (the foil will prevent the water from the water bath from leaking into the cake). Spray the inside bottom and sides of the pan with non-stick spray.
Prepare the crust:
In a bowl, combine the crushed graham crackers, toasted and crushed hazelnuts, cocoa powder, sugar, espresso powder and salt. Drizzle the melted butter over the crumbs and toss with a fork to moisten. Press the crumbs into the bottom and halfway up the sides of the pan.
Freeze crust in the pan for 10 minutes, then bake for 10 minutes. Set aside while you prepare the filling.
Reduce the oven temperature to 300.
Prepare the filling:
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese for 3 minutes until smooth and creamy. Add the sugar and vanilla, and beat for 4-5 minutes until light and smooth. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition. Beat in the sour cream and heavy cream. Scrape the sides and bottom and beat for several more minutes for a very light and airy batter.
Scoop out 1/2 cup of the batter; transfer to a small bowl. Whisk the 1/2 cup of batter with the Nutella and cocoa powder until perfectly smooth. Scrape into a plastic bag, with one corner snipped off and a round tip fitted into the hole.
Take the remaining plain batter; scoop half into the pan over the crust and smooth out the top. Squeeze dollops of the Nutella batter over the first layer, randomly or in a pattern, whatever you like; use just half of the Nutella batter. Now pour the rest of the plain batter into the pan - carefully so that you don't swirl the Nutella - and smooth out the top. Squeeze the rest of the Nutella batter into dollops over the 2nd layer of batter. The dollops will settle into the batter as it bakes, so don't worry if they stick out above the surface of the cake. The pan should be full almost to the top.
Place the spring form pan into a baking dish or roasting pan. Pour boiling or very hot water into the baking dish, so that it comes halfway up the sides of the pan. Bake for 1 hour, until the top is a pale golden brown and a crust has formed on top and the cake has risen very slightly (the cake will still seem jiggly if you shake it, though). (Note, I baked mine in a convection oven, which tends to over-brown delicate baked goods due to the close quarters - a conventional oven should yield a paler crust on top, or place a piece of tented foil loosely over the top to keep it from over-browning.) After 1 hour, turn the oven off, and let the cheesecake sit in the warm oven for 1 more hour. Transfer to a wire rack on the counter, cover loosely with a clean kitchen towel, and cool for several hours. Then cover with plastic and refrigerate overnight.
Before serving, take a sharp knife and run it around the edges to loosen the crust from the pan. Remove the sides of the pan. Serve the cake on its base, or if you're careful, you can slide a large spatula under the crust to transfer it from the base to a serving plate.
Yields 6-8 servings
Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen