Chocolate Hazelnut Cheesecake

Mar 19th

From the title and the ingredients, it’s pretty obvious this is a delicious dessert. The reason I’m still writing is because I have a VERY useful tip to share that you’ll be VERY glad to know in the future.
Freshly whipped, lightly sweetened whipped cream is pretty much incredible. For me, it’s worth the bit of effort over the canned stuff and after seeing that the first two ingredients in Cool Whip are high fructose corn syrup and partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, that’s no longer an option. The only problem is that without those preservatives, it tends to get runny or “weep” mere hours after it’s made. I used to make it fresh when called for but “make ahead” is my jam these days so I researched and perfected my method.
By using a bit of gelatin, the whipped cream becomes “stabilized” and could last for over 24 hours – plus the taste isn’t affected in the least. Remember the trifle I made for that show I was on this year? The dessert was made Tuesday and judged Thursday – my stabilized whipped cream held up magnificently. Read the instructions below for exact methodology, and double/triple all amounts as needed for your future recipes!
Chocolate Hazelnut Cheesecake
Serves 12
Crust
1 c. Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafer crumbs (made from 20 whole crackers finely ground in processor)
1/2 c. hazelnuts
3 tbsp. sugar
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
Filling
1 1/2 c. bittersweet chips
11.5 oz. whipped cream cheese, room temperature
5 oz light cream cheese, room temperature
3/4 c. sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 c. Nutella
1/4 c. heavy whipping cream
3  eggs
Topping
1/2 tsp. unflavored gelatin
2 tsp. cold water
1/2 c. heavy whipping cream
1 tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/3 c. chopped hazelnuts, toasted*
*To toast nuts, heat a skillet over medium heat until hot. Add nuts and stir frequently until fragrant and golden. Remove from heat and cool before using. 
1.Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Mix crumbs and sugar in medium mixing bowl. Add melted butter; stir until mixture is evenly moistened.
2. Press onto bottom of 9-inch-diameter springform pan. Bake about 12 minutes. Remove from oven; cool. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees.
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3. Microwave chocolate chips in a glass bowl for 1 minute. Stir and microwave in 15 second increments, stirring in between, until melted. Set aside to cool to room temperature (stirring occasionally).
4. Combine cream cheese, sugar, and salt in food processor and blend until smooth.
5. Add Nutella and cream and process until smooth.
6. Next, add melted chocolate, then add eggs 1 at a time, blending and scraping down sides after each addition until mixture is smooth. Pour batter over crust in pan.
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7. Bake cake until outer edge is slightly puffed and cake is barely set in center (center will look shiny and move slightly when pan is gently shaken), about 55 minutes. Transfer cake to rack and cool to room temperature (about two hours), covered with a clean kitchen towel. Place in fridge to chill uncovered until cold, 8 hours or overnight. Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and keep refrigerated.
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8. Within 12 hours of serving, make topping. Place gelatin in small bowl with water and stir. Set aside for 1-2 minutes to soften.
9. Place water/gelatin in microwave and cook for about 10 seconds or until mixture bubbles up. Remove from microwave and stir in 1 tbsp. of the heavy cream.
10. In a clean mixing bowl, place 1 tbsp. sugar. Top with remaining heavy cream and beat with electric mixer (whisk attachment) until starting to thicken. Add gelatin mixture and vanilla and continue to beat until mixture holds a soft peak with whisk is lifted up.
11. Scrape cream into plastic sandwich bag and snip the corner. Use bag to pipe whipped cream decoratively onto baked cake. Scatter with hazelnuts. Refrigerate until ready to eat.
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