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Looks like we’re in a cheesecake mood lately. Today’s recipe comes from Vanessa Ochotorena, pastry chef of Ripple in Cleveland Park. Try this sweet dish at home, just in time for Valentine’s Day.Featured image courtesy of Ripple.

3417 Connecticut Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20008
(202) 244-7995

Ripple’s Hazelnut Cheesecake

½ cup hazelnuts
1 stick butter
¼ cup sugar
¾ cup all-purpose flour
¼ tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350° F. Place hazelnuts into a food processor and grind until hazelnuts are finely crushed. Set aside. Cream butter and sugar until butter is light and fluffy. Mix all-purpose flour, ground hazelnuts, and salt together. Slowly add all dry ingredients to butter/sugar mixture and mix on low speed until dough comes together.

Drop spoonfuls of dough two inches apart onto a sheet tray that is covered with parchment paper. You will most likely need two baking sheets to bake off all the cookies. Bake at 350° F for about 12 minutes, or until cookies become golden brown. Allow cookies to cool off.

Hazelnut cookies
1 cup cream cheese, room temperature
½ cup sugar
¾ cup Nutella or homemade hazelnut-chocolate butter
½ tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup mascarpone cheese
2 eggs
1 yolk
¼ tsp salt
½ cup hazelnuts, toasted and finely chopped
¼ cup dark chocolate, melted

Preheat oven to 350° F. Grind hazelnut cookies in a food processor until cookies are finely ground and the natural oils in the cookies are released. Grease 8″ cake pans with vegetable spray. Cut out circles that have the same circumference as the base of the pans and place each circular piece of parchment paper on the base of each pan. Press grounded hazelnut cookies into prepared pans. Bake at 350° F for about 10-12, until crust becomes golden brown. Allow crust to cool off completely.

Preheat oven to 275° F. Cream cream cheese and sugar on medium speed for a couple of minutes until cream cheese is light, fluffly, and smooth. There should be no solid chunks of cream cheese at this point. Add Nutella and vanilla. Add mascarpone cheese and continue to mix just until mixture is creamy and well combined. Scrape the sides and bottom of bowl and be sure that all ingredients are well integrated. Add yolks and eggs one at a time on low speed until batter is very smooth.
Strain batter into a large bowl. Ladle or pour batter into prepared cake pans, until batter reaches almost to the top of each pan.

Place each cake pan in a water-bath: place cakes in large rectangular pans. Place pans into preheated oven and pour water into them until water reaches about halfway the sides of each pan. Bake cheesecakes for about 1 hr- 1 hr 20 min, until cakes jiggle in the center when tapped.

Cool cheesecakes completely at room temperature. Place cakes in freezer for about 1-2 hours. (Note: If using a springform pan, it is not necessary to freeze cheesecakes. Simply cool cheesecakes completely at room temperature and release springs from pan).

Turn frozen cheesecakes upside down over a flat surface that is covered with parchment paper. Torch the sides and bottom of each cake and tap firmly until cheesecakes are released. Turn cheesecakes over and allow them to cool. Sprinkle a handful of toasted and chopped hazelnuts over the surface of each cheesecake and drizzle melted dark chocolate by dipping the tip of a fork or a spoon in the melted chocolate and moving it back and forth over the cake so that chocolate it drizzles over it.
Cut cheesecake into slices, and serve.

Yield: Two 8″ cheesecakes. Freeze for 3-4 weeks well wrapped. Keep in fridge for about 3 days. If using a springform pan, be sure to wrap the bottom and sides of cake pan with aluminum foil to prevent leakage. If using regular cake pans, the sides of cake pans will need to be torched to release the sides of cheesecake before serving them.