Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Triple Hazelnut Cheesecake

Okay, cheesecake will never be considered "health food," but if you're going to have a slice, why not infuse it with hazelnut flavor from three different sources - Frangelico hazelnut liqueur, hazelnut-chocolate spread, and the nuts themselves - and get a healthy dose of monounsaturated fats in the process?  Hazelnuts are also full of vitamins and minerals like folate and manganese.

Don't reach for the Nutella to make this recipe; it contains dairy.  A great vegan version to try is "Rawtella," made of organic raw hazelnuts, organic raw cocoa, and organic coconut sugar.  Scoop up a jar at veganessentials.com.

  • 1/2 cup toasted and chopped hazelnuts, divided*
  • 1 tablespoon vegan brown sugar
  • 1 and 1/2 cups chocolate cookies**
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 tablespoon instant coffee granules
  • 1 tablespoon hot water
  • 2 cups prepared vegan cottage cheese***
  • 1 cup Tofutti cream cheese
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 3/4 cup packed vegan brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegan sugar
  • 1/2 cup hazelnut-chocolate spread (such as Rawtella)
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons Frangelico
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 Ener-G eggs
1. Place 1/4 cup of the hazelnuts in a food processor with 1 tablespoon brown sugar and the chocolate cookies; process until finely ground.  Add the canola oil and process until the crumbs are moist.  Press the crumb mixture into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan coated with cooking spray.  Wrap the outside of the pan with a double layer of aluminum foil.

Note: wrapping the pan prevents water from seeping into your cheesecake when it bakes in a water bath.  Luckily, my springform pan turned out to be water-tight, because I don't think I wrapped the foil on correctly. You might try a Google search for a quick video or how-to.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together the instant coffee and 1 tablespoon hot water.  Combine the cottage cheese and cream cheese in a food processor, and process until smooth.  Add the coffee mixture, cocoa, 3/4 cup brown sugar, sugar, hazelnut spread, cornstarch, Frangelico, and salt; process until smooth.  Add the Ener-G eggs and process to combine.  Pour the batter over the crumbs in the pan.

Note: the Frangelico is, of course, the third in the trio of hazelnuts, but if you prefer not to use alcohol, you can omit it here.

3. Place the springform pan in a large baking dish (I had to use my roasting pan, the only one wide enough to fit).  Fill the baking pan with hot water to a depth of 1 inch.  Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour - the cheesecake center should barely jiggle as you move the pan from the oven.

4. Run a knife around the outside edge of the springform pan, and let the cheesecake cool to room temperature, then cover and chill for at least 8 hours.  Remove from the pan and sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup hazelnuts. 

*Toast the hazelnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.  It will be easier to toast them whole, and then chop once out of the oven. 

**For the cookies, try the chocolate alphabet cookies from Newman's Own Organics - although it might seem silly to use a kid's cookie, no one will see the letters once they've been processed into crumbs.  These cookies are the closest vegan version I know of to Nabisco's chocolate wafers (not vegan), but you can substitute any other vegan plain chocolate cookie. 

***Prepare the cottage cheese at least 4 to 5 hours before the rest of the recipe, as the flavors need time to blend.  In a bowl, combine 1 (14-ounce) package lite firm tofu, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, a pinch of salt, a few drops of vanilla extract, and a dash of stevia.  Mash with a fork until the mixture looks like cottage cheese; cover and chill. The recipe should yield exactly the 2 cups needed for this cheesecake.

Nutrition Info:
12 servings (1 slice), Calories 317 

Tasting Notes:
Angels are singing a little song in hazelnut heaven somewhere.  I would really call this a "chocolate mousse" cake more than a cheesecake, because that's what it tasted like: decadently creamy interior, with a cookie crumb crust that tasted like oreo cookies (minus the creme) and the delightful crunch of hazelnuts on top.  Why is this amazing concoction not receiving a 5?  Because I wanted even more hazelnut; I would increase the Frangelico to 3 tablespoons or more  It's a silly quibble, for something so creamy and yummy, but a rating system is a rating system.  If you look at this and think it looks too rich and decadent, fret not - yes it is rich and decadent, so a little sliver is truly all you need to satisfy.



  1. whoa, drool. i didn't know of the existence of rawtella...so expensive, but probably totally worth it right? i just called my local co-op and luckily they carry it, even a little cheaper than at vegan essentials. as amazing as this cake looks i'm probably too lazy to make it, i'll just shovel the rawtella into my face instead.

  2. Emily - jealous that your local co-op carries rawtella! I still have to buy it online. This really is to die for - the longer I ate leftovers in the fridge, the more I thought it really should rate a 5 - or a 6!