Thursday, April 14, 2011

Almond Cheesecake

If you don't love this cheesecake then you may not be human.  It's the richest cheesecake I've ever baked.


Honestly, the hazelnuts on the top are a ton of work and don't add much to the cheesecake.  I would recommend not bothering to make them, but have included the recipe in case you'd like to try.

Ingredients


  • Crust
    • 18 chocolate graham crackers, divided
    • 10 tbsp melted butter, divided
  • Filling
    • 2 cans (8 oz. each) almond paste
    • 5 packages (8 oz. each) cream cheese @ room temperature
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 1 cup heavy cream
    • 5 large eggs
    • 2 tsp vanilla
  • Hazelnuts
    • 18 whole hazelnuts
    • 2 cups sugar
    • 1/4 cup water
    • 1 tbsp corn syrup
  • Ganache
    • 16 oz. semisweet chocolate
    • 2 cups heavy cream
    • Chocolate chips will work
    • 2 tbsp butter

Directions


  1. For the crust, process 9 graham crackers in until only crumbs remain.  Add five tbsp of melted butter and process until the cookies are wet.
  2. Line the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper.  Press crumbs into the bottom and 1 cm up the side of the pan.
  3. Repeat step #1 for the remainig crackers & butter.  Press into sides & bottom of eight spots in a muffin tray.
  4. Bake the crust at 350ºF for 10 minutes.
  5. Put the almond paste and cream cheese in a stand mixer and mix until smooth.  This will likely take a while and a lot of scraping the sides of the bowl.
  6. Add the sugar, cream,  eggs, and vanilla.  Mix well until smooth.
  7. Pour the filling into the springform pan and fill to the top.  Pour the reamining filling into the eight muffin crusts.
  8. Bake the cheesecake in a water bath @ 320°F for 70 minutes.  Cool in the over with the door open, still in the water bath.
  9. Bake the muffin cheesecakes in a water bath @ 320ºF for approximately 30 minutes.  Cool in the oven with the door open, still in the water bath.
  10. When cooled completely, store in the refrigerator.
  11. For the hazelnuts, use wooded skewers and stick each nut.  Lay newspaper on the floor under your countertop and get a large, heavy cuttingboard to suspend the skwereded nuts.
  12. Combine the sugar, water, and cornsyrup in a small saucepan.  Heat until boiling without stirring.  Once it starts to caramelize, remove from the heat and let sit for ten minutes.
  13. Dip each nut in the caramelized sugar and then suspend over the newspaper.  Let stand until set.
  14. For the ganache, heat the cream until it starts to steam (but not yet boiling).  Remove from the heat.
  15. Add the chocolate & butter.  You can carefully stir, but don't whip it.  You don't want to beat any air into it.
  16. Let it sit, stirring occasionally, until the it's just above room temperature.
  17. Remove the cheesecake from the springform pan and put on a cardboard round that fits the bottom precisely.  If needed, trim it down.  You don't want any overhang of cardboard below the cake.
  18. Place the cake on a wire rack.  Pour ganache over the top to coat the top & sides completely.
  19. Remove the muffin cheesecakes.  Again, place on a wire rack and pour ganache over them to coat the top & sides.
  20. Decorate the top with the hazelnuts.  Let the cheesecake sit until set.
  21. Store in refrigerator.















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