I love how extraordinarily decadent a cheesecake is. For me, a cool, beautiful, titanic cheesecake sitting atop a cake stand is far more alluring than any cake that might occupy that throne instead. It’s the seriousness of cheesecake that pulls me in; the smooth density of flavour, the satin texture and the rich weave of cream and cheese that has been slowly polished to perfection in a long slow oven. Add coffee, chocolate and nuts to the mix and I cannot resist. This recipe blends the holy trinity of coffee, chocolate and hazelnut in a perfect symbiosis, with no one flavour outbidding the rest for prominence.
Although I avoided baked cheesecakes for years due to worries over dried out filling and cracks in the surface, this recipe is sturdy and forgiving. I left the cheesecake in around 30 minutes longer than I was supposed to and it still tasted fab. And the trick of letting it cool in the oven first is what prevents the cracks so Just Do It, no matter how impatient you might be to admire your gorgeous creation up close. You could serve it with some fruit, whipped cream or ice cream on the side for a dessert but I – breaking all polite rules for consumption of cakes and cheese in general – I like a slice for breakfast with my first coffee of the day.
Hazelnut Mocha Baked Cheesecake
250g digestive biscuits, finely crushed
100g hazelnuts, toasted, skins removed (rub the nuts in a clean tea towel when still warm to remove the skins)
120g unsalted butter, melted
250g soft light brown sugar
2 tbsp plain flour, sifted
500g cream cheese, beaten until soft
300g sour cream
300ml double cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
100g good-quality dark chocolate, melted & cooled slightly
80ml strong espresso, cooled
Cocoa powder or icing sugar, to dust
Preheat oven to 150°C. Grease and line base and sides of a 24cm spring-form pan.
Pulse the biscuits and hazelnuts in a food processor until they are fine crumbs. Add the melted butter and pulse again to combine. Press mixture into base of pan. Chill for 30 minutes in the freezer to firm up. Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs, brown sugar, flour, cream cheese, sour cream, double cream and vanilla on slow speed for 3-4 minutes until combined. Beat in chocolate and coffee to combine.
Remove tin from the fridge and pour in the batter. Tap pan gently on a flat surface to remove any bubbles. Bake for 1 ¼ hours or until set at the edges but the cake still has a slight wobble in the centre.
Turn the heat off and cool the cake in the oven for 1 hour, then chill for 2 hours. Remove the cake from the pan and dust with icing sugar or cocoa powder if wished. Before cutting, run a large sharp knife under boiling water to ensure clean slices. Freezes well: defrost at room temp for 12 hours and then in the fridge for a further 12 hours before serving. Keeps well in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Recipe adapted from What Katie Ate.