Classic Cheesecake with Chocolate Hazelnut Drizzle
First off, Happy New Year!!! It has been a complete pleasure to share my recipes with so many friends, both old and new, in the past year and I look forward to more of the same in the year ahead. (There will be a few new developments coming, too!) I thank you for all of your comments and feedback; I am truly delighted to read when you have cooked a recipe and enjoy every single comment. For those who share photos of the recipes on my Fountain Avenue Kitchen Facebook page, an extra thank you!
A few months ago, Beverley, a fabulous baker from the UK who I have come to know through our online ventures — she has a terrific page called Something About Cupcakes — posted a photo of a delicious-looking cheesecake on my page. I commented that it looked like something over which my husband would drool. He is a major cheesecake aficionado. He has one requirement though; his perfect cheesecake cannot have any sort of fruit sauce…not even a drizzle!
When I saw Beverley’s cheesecake, I commented that it would make my husband very happy. Although Beverley doesn’t often share her recipes, as they are part of her livelihood, she kindly passed this one along. The part which caught my eye was the crust. She used Digestives as an alternative to graham crackers. I became familiar with this cookie-cracker hybrid when I spent a semester in Spain years ago and thought these would add extra texture to the crust. (These are widely available in most major grocery stores in the U.S. now.) Interesting enough, the rest of Beverley’s recipe was similar to mine. She, however, adds her sour cream to the top of the cake at the end. I mix it in and then top with a sort of Nutella ganache.
As a funny side note, the first time I made a cheesecake for my husband, we were dating. I thought I would impress him with one of his all-time favorites and was so pleased with the finished product. No cracks on the top and it looked mouthwatering. Although as soon as I took the first bite, I realized I had made a mistake. I had gotten distracted while mixing the batter and forgot to add — would you believe? — the sugar! Seeing Beverley’s masterpiece reminded me that it had been quite some time since I had baked a cheesecake…and what better way to ring in the New Year with my husband and boys (who are also fans!)?
A few additional helpful notes: This is one of those recipes that is truly easy but where reading through the directions and keeping a watchful eye towards the end of the bake time will ensure success. This is also a good time to issue the all-ovens-are-a-little different warning. Also, dark-colored pans will cook faster than light-colored pans. And if you use an 8-inch springform pan, you will need to add additional cooking time yet. That said, if you follow the directions, you really should have great success. Peek early and if you notice the top of the cheesecake is starting to brown, simply drape a piece of lightly-oiled foil over the top. Turn the oven off when the cake is cooked across the top. You will, however, notice a little “jigglyness” in the center. No worries; this will firm up as the cake cools. The chocolate topping is optional but tasty. If you want to frost the whole cake with it, simply double the easy recipe. Alternatively, you could certainly top with fruit or eat plain, as it is delicious unadorned.
Do not be daunted if you have never cooked a cheesecake. To ensure success, simply read through the helpful notes above, then look at your pan and choose the cooking time and temperature accordingly. Monitor as suggested and you will know when the cake is cooked.
- 1 3/4 cups (about 12 crackers) Digestives, finely crushed (could substitute graham crackers)
- 1 1/4 cups sugar, divided
- 1/4 cup butter, melted
- 3 (8-ounce) packages Philadelphia cream cheese, softened
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 4 large eggs
- 1/4 cup Nutella
- 1 tablespoon half and half or cream
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. (If your pan is dark-coated, preheat oven to 325 degrees.) I like to prep my 9-inch springform pan by putting a round of parchment on the bottom (Trace a circle by putting the pan on the piece of parchment and cut just inside the lines.) This is not necessary, nor is greasing the pan, but I think the parchment makes it easy to remove the cut pieces.
- In a medium bowl, mix together the cracker crumbs, 1/4 cup sugar and the melted butter. Press firmly and evenly onto the bottom of your 9-inch springform pan. I like to use my fingers and press about a half inch up the side of the pan. This ensures a crust that has some thickness and texture to it.
- In a large mixing bowl (a stand mixer if you have one), beat the cream cheese and remaining 1 cup of sugar on medium speed until well blended. Add the sour cream and vanilla, and mix well. Then, add the eggs, one at a time, mixing on low speed until incorporated. Pour into the prepared crust.
- Bake for 1 hour and 5 minutes to 1 hour and 20 minutes. This will depend on your pan color and oven temperature. You want to see that the cake is cooked across the top, yet it will still be slightly jiggly in the middle. The jiggly part will firm up at it cools.
- Turn off the oven and open the door slightly. Allow cake to sit in the turned-off oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Then remove cheesecake from oven.
- Place Nutella and half and half in a small bowl and microwave for 20 seconds. Stir until thoroughly mixed, microwaving for a few more seconds, if needed, to soften. Drizzle or spread the chocolate mixture on the cake, and then cool completely on a rack.
- Refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight. I like to let the cheesecake sit at room temperature for a half an hour or so before eating, but enjoy cold from the fridge if you prefer!
If you would like to completely cover the cake in the Nutella mixture, you may increase the amounts to 1/2 cup of Nutella and 2 tablespoons half and half or cream.
This recipe was happily shared with Recipes for My Boys’ Thursday’s Treasures.