hazelnut cheesecake

This is the no frills e-version of the illustrated lengthy story/recipe in the handwritten hand-illustrated part 1 portion of the archives only available in hardcopy from dr bob enterprises or on the dr bob CD. It is a terrific cheesecake, only surpassed by its variation: guavaberry-lingonberry cheesecake.

ingredients

crust
1/4 lb butter (1 stick)
1 1/2 c vanilla wafers, crumbed
1/2 c ground toasted hazelnuts
1/4 c sugar
batter
2 lb cream cheese (4 8oz packages)
1 1/2 c sugar
pinch of salt
2 T Frangelico liqueur
4 large eggs
1/2 c ground toasted hazelnuts
topping
2 c sour cream
1/4 c sugar
1 t Frangelico liqueur
2 T ground toasted hazelnuts

instructions

  1. Toast and skin enough hazelnuts to make 1 c plus 2 T crumbs. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast 5 minutes in a preheated 400 degree F oven. Then rub nuts against each other in a kitchen towel to remove as much of the skins as possible. Cool and crumb.
  2. Melt the butter, mix together wafer and 1/2 c hazelnut crumbs with sugar and butter, and press along the sides and bottom of a 10 in springform pan.
  3. Beat room temperature cream cheese and sugar together until soft. Then add the salt, the liqueur, and one egg at a time at minimum batter speed, followed by the hazelnut crumbs (1/2 c). Pour into crust and bake 50 minutes in a preheated 350 F oven. Remove for 10 minutes.
  4. Mix sour cream, sugar (1/4 c), and Frangelico (1 t) and spread over cheesecake, sprinkling with hazelnut crumbs (2 T) just before returning it to the oven for 10 minutes. Remove and chill overnight at least before serving.

notes

  1. The original recipe credits "Mother Wonderful" for this jewel.
  2. It also exaggerates the laborious process of roasting the hazelnuts and rubbing off the skins, which is entirely unnecessary with the Diamond recipe-ready hazelnuts packaged just like their familiar walnuts. Unfortunately the supply dried up in late 2001 when the dr bob team was running low and needed more for the garnish on cream of artichoke soup after having made a Nutella variation of this cheesecake for Christmas, and a brief return to the oven roasting and rubbing hassle was revisited after finding nonrecipe-ready hazelnuts elsewhere. A helpful supermarket employee followed up the missing hazelnut question, leading bob to contact Diamond (of California) for help (after a web search turned up a boycott in progress against them), and supplying some useful hazelnut web sites like hazelnut.com, oregonorchard.com and oregonhazelnuts.org. Who would have guessed that Oregon is a big hazelnut state?
  3. In 2002 a local competing supermarket stepped in to offer the product so a few bags were snatched up. The first local chain had been eaten by the national giant Safeway, and apparently this is one of the products that got axed from inventory.
  4. By 2004 the cheesecake bar had been raised considerably, so this had to be kicked up a notch to compete. Nutella had proven a bit too much as a power ingredient, but we had picked up the chocolate hazelnut spread produced by the delightful Belgian bakery-deli chain Le Pain Quotidien in NYC out of curiosity and after sitting on the shelf a year, it was elected to do the job. A taste to make sure before execution gave the green light, so about a quarter cup went into the microwave to help it drizzle well over the top of the unbaked cheesecake batter without overwhelming the cake. Just the right touch, together with the halving of the recipe for the 9 inch pan to reduce the height and the damage of individual slices. Well received by the testing crew.
  5. Illustrations available.

the hazelnut surprise upgrade (expanded notes)

After many years of flavor variations of this simple basic recipe, we returned to our roots in 2004 with a slight upgrade as a small accommodation to the new-and-different desire that led us down the path of innovation: one new ingredient drizzled under the somewhat reduced sour cream topping, reduced to allow the golden skin of the cheesecake to show itself around the edge on the natural rim formed when the puffed up cheesecake cools down, held up a bit more around the sides by the contact with the pan no doubt. Making for a more elegant presentation, increasing the impression made on the target consumers. We are all performers after all. Cooks are now celebrities these days. Some cooks at least.

We have our Algerian-Belgian friend Jamila to thank for discovering this new ingredient. She introduced us to this wonderful Belgian chain of family style big table eating deli-bakery restaurants La Pain Quotidiene ("Daily Bread") in Brussels (when she also turned us on to Cheb Mami before Sting found the Algerian Rai star to duet with on Desert Rose). Their product "Noisella", in quotes on the jar ("for kids 1 to 101!", it says, not in quotes), is a lovely Belgian chocolate and hazelnut spread (hence the connection) which is not overpowering like Nutella, which instead has to be used much more sparingly. For a nine-inch cake, leaving the outside half inch untouched so the sour cream can keep the secret, you need about 3 tablespoons roughly, which can be microwaved on high for about 50 seconds to encourage it to drizzle instead of just hang onto the spoon. Maybe a few more seconds to avoid globbing, which spoils the drizzle pattern that will never be seen anyway. Once you've done the deed, you proceed with delicately laying down the sour cream topping so you don't kick up any of the drizzle and give away the surprise, also not a tragedy. In line with our new century attitude "less is more" in the cheesecake department, we split a 4 cream cheese package recipe in half and put it in two 9 inch pans (you can also use 8 inch for a bit more height), splitting the 16 oz sour cream mixture in half, which allows a thin enough central spread to keep it from overflowing the rim.

While the Le Pain Quotidien presence in the US has been growing, with about 7 stores in New York City and 4 in Los Angeles by 2003, if you aren't within striking range of one of these two polar-opposite American cities, you will have to substitute with Nutella or some equivalent product. Give it a try. You'll be glad you did.

hzlntcck.htm:4-sep-2004 [what, ME cook? 1984 dr bob enterprises]