Today is national cheesecake day, so of course I had to make a cheesecake. My favorite cheesecake is probably just original cheesecake with cherries on top, but I wanted to mix it up a little today. I opened the pantry to grab the graham crackers to make the crust and spotted the animal crackers. It was a last minute decision to make the crust out of hazelnuts and animal crackers. Then I spotted the Nutella and decided it would be a chocolate hazelnut cheesecake. Quite a delicious combo, if I do say so myself!  I thought it would be pretty if the cheesecake had two layers, one that had chocolate and one that just had hazelnut flavor. The result was a beautiful cheesecake with two contrasting layers. I thought the top looked a little plain, so I added a chocolate ganache and sprinkled a few more hazelnuts on top…much prettier. It tasted as good as it looked and couldn’t have been easier. Who even knew there was a national cheesecake day? Enjoy!

Chocolate Hazelnut Cheesecake
for the crust:
1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts
2-2 1/2 cups animal crackers
1/4 cup sugar
4 tbsp melted butter

Place hazelnuts and sugar in food processor. Pulse until hazelnuts are coarse crumbs. Add animal crackers and pulse until the crackers and nuts are the same size. Add melted butter and pulse 5-6 times. Pour crumb mixture into 8 inch springform pan and press onto bottoms and sides. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 or until edges are lightly browned. Let cool while making the filling.

for the filling:
2 (8oz) packages 1/3 less fat cream cheese, room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
2 tbsp hazelnut syrup (you will find this in the coffee section of your grocery store)
1/4 cup chocolate hazelnut spread (such as Nutella)

Combine cream cheese and sugar in medium bowl. Beat with electric mixer until smooth. Add vanilla and eggs and mix until combined. Divide the mixture in half. Add the hazelnut syrup to one half and mix thoroughly. Add the chocolate hazelnut spread to the other half until fully combined. Pour the chocolate mixture over the baked crust. Pour the remaining cream cheese mixture evenly over the chocolate mixture. Place in 325 degree oven and bake for 40-45 minutes or until center is almost set. Cool completely, top with ganache if desired and refrigerate at least 4 hours before serving.

optional ganache:
1/4 cup chopped milk chocolate plus 1 tbsp, divided
1 tbsp heavy cream
1 tbsp hazelnut syrup

Heat 1/4 cup chocolate, heavy cream, and hazelnut syrup in microwave for about 30 seconds or until the chocolate is completely melted. Stir in remaining chocolate until melted and pour over cheesecake.

Categories: Cheesecake

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