First, I need to let you know that my inaccurate cutting led to these being more rectangular than the title of this recipe would lead you to believe, but we’re going to pretend that isn’t the case – may the odds of even cutting be ever in your favor!
Second, I have some seriously talented friends! This week two different friends shared baking related things that made my mouth water — these Black Bottom Black Bean Brownies by my pal Lindsay and a Ferrer Rocher Cheesecake by my friend without a blog (that I know of), Toni. Both made me crave something sweet involving chocolate and cheesecake and since I had a day off coming up, I figured it was great timing!
Hazelnut is one of my favorite flavors – for coffee, cupcakes, candy, anything! The hazelnutty crust in this recipe and the decadent Nutella swirls throughout each bite of creamy, rich cheesecake ensure that this will be a recipe I use for future potlucks and get-togethers – it’s simple and easy but it tastes like it was made in a restaurant!
For the Crust
1/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cup vanilla wafers (if you like peanut butter, you can crush the same amount of Nutter Butter cookies and use make a Peanut Butter-Nutella Cheesecake!)
3 tbsp finely ground hazelnuts
1/4 cup Nutella
1/8 tsp hazelnut extract (optional)
For the Cheesecake
16 oz of softened cream cheese
2 whole eggs
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp honey
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp finely chopped hazelnuts for topping
1/3 cup of Nutella
4 Ferrer Rocher chocolates (chop these into chunks or halves)
Pre-heat your oven to 350 F degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.
While the oven is pre-heating, pulse the vanilla wafers and hazelnuts until finely ground. Melt the butter and combine it with the ground wafer/nut mixture. Add the hazelnut extract, and make sure it’s all really evenly incorporated! It should be slightly crumb-y but not so much so that it doesn’t stick together.
Scoop the mixture into your lined baking pan and use a spatula to press it down firmly and evenly into a smooth layer. Make it as compact as possible and make sure it’s filled to the edges! Once it’s set, put it in the preheated oven and bake for 10 – 12 minutes. Keep an eye on it – the crust may heat and bubble! If this happens, just give it a quick poke with a fork and it should settle back down. 😉
Once it’s finished, allow the crust to cool completely. Don’t remove it from the pan, just leave it alone so it can chill out somewhere and wait to be useful. Lower the oven temperature to 300 F degrees and start making your cheesecake filling!
In a large bowl, use a mixer (or a fork / handbeater, but a machine is a bit easier and less exhausting) for about 2 minutes on medium-low settings to whip your 16 oz of cream cheese. Slowly stir in your sugar, and beat for another minute until the sugar is fully mixed. Add the eggs, honey and vanilla extract one by one, mixing for about 1 minute in between. Your end result should be very smooth, without lumps or bubbles, and a very light off-white sort of color. Let this sit in the refrigerator for a couple of minutes while you get to work on your next step: layering!
Spoon your 1/4 cup of Nutella set aside onto your now cooled and baked crust. Spread it across the top in an even layer – your crust shouldn’t crumble at all but if it does, try placing the pan in the oven for 30 seconds to a minute to warm the Nutella up so it’s easier to spread.
Once your crust and Nutella base are finished, it’s time to add your cheesecake filling! Take this out of the fridge and scoop it into your baking pan, using all of the filling and smoothing the top with your spatula.
Scoop the remaining 1/3 c of Nutella into a microwave-save dish and heat it until it’s semi-melted, and then pour it into a Ziploc baggy. Seal the bag, snip a tiny corner off of it and then pipe the Nutella onto the top of your cheesecake. I made hearts for Nick and zig-zags for the swirls! You can use a toothpick or a knife to drage through the cake for the swirls, and sprinkle the remaining chopped hazelnuts and your Ferrer Rocher chocolates on top!
Bake for 45 – 50 minutes at 300 F degrees. Once it’s done, let it cool completely (for over an hour) and then place it in the fridge to chill – at least 5 hours, but up to overnight so you can make these ahead for parties, dinners and events!
I cut these into bars, but left a large square with the heart in it for Nick as a special surprise when he got home from work. 🙂