Chopped hazelnuts in the crust give this cheesecake a great base. The creamy cheesecake filling is lightly sweetened with honey and the orange glaze on top make this a show stopper and a taste bud winner.
Yields: 12-16 servings
¾ cup toasted chopped hazelnuts*
¾ cup graham cracker crumbs
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup butter
½ teaspoon cinnamon
3 packages (8-oz each) cream cheese, softened
½ cup sour cream
¾ cup honey (may substitute 1 ¼-cups white sugar)
1-3 teaspoons vanilla
1 bottle (11-12 oz) orange or lemon curd
Canned mandarin orange slices, drained
Fresh mint leaves, garnish
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. (NOTE: For clean smooth sides and easy removal of the cheesecake, line a 9-inch springform pan with 4-inch wide strips of parchment paper, and place a circle of parchment paper the same diameter as the bottom of the pan in the bottom; lightly spray or butter the parchment.)
Mix together chopped hazelnuts, graham cracker crumbs, sugar, butter and cinnamon. Press into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan; set aside.
Zest orange, measure 2 tablespoons zest and set aside. Squeeze orange, measure ¼-cup juice and set aside; measure an additional 1-tablespoon juice and set it aside.
Beat softened cream cheese, sour cream and honey until smooth; add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla and ¼-cup orange juice. Stir in zest. Pour into prepared pan. Bake 60 minutes or until set, sides start to puff, and surface is no longer shiny (center will jiggle slightly). Turn off oven and leave cheesecake inside the oven for 30 minutes (without opening the door). Prop oven door and leave cheesecake 30 minutes longer.
Remove cheesecake from oven; run a thin knife around outside edge and cool cheesecake in the pan on a wire rack for two hours. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 4-24 hours.
Remove sides of springform pan and cheesecake on serving plate.
Place curd in small bowl and slightly warm in microwave (15-20 seconds); stir until smooth, stir in 1-3 teaspoons orange juice (optional) to thin. Spread curd over cheesecake; garnish with mandarin oranges and mint leaves.
* To toast hazelnuts, spread in a single layer on baking sheet. Place in 350 degree oven and bake, stirring occasionally, until toasted, about 15-17 minutes. Remove nuts from oven and allow to partially cool. Place nuts in clean dish towel, fold towel over nuts and rub to remove skins. Place skinless nuts in food processor and jog until nuts are chopped.