I love the challenge of working with ingredients at hand and trying to make them into something delicious. A can of mixed salted nuts which yielded exactly enough hazelnuts for this small dessert, a block of Neufchatel cheese, heavy cream, Greek yogurt, hazelnut liqueur and imagination were the components of a memorable dessert.
I carried the chocolate hazelnut theme all the way through: from the chocolate-hazelnut crust to the chocolate-hazelnut filling to the chocolate-hazelnut creme fraiche, this dessert has the milk-chocolate hazelnut taste in every bite. It doesn't taste like Nutella. But it is definitely hazelnut and definitely chocolate. And most definitely delicious. If you have the ingredients and two (4-1/2") springform pans, you are all set for a taste adventure.
1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp. salted hazelnuts, skin on, divided use
1/4 cup white whole wheat flour
2-1/2 Tbsp. + 1/3 cup sugar, divided use
1 Tbsp. cocoa, divided use
2 Tbsp. melted unsalted butter
1 Tbsp. hazelnut liqueur, divided use
1 (8-oz.) pkg. Neufchatel cheese, softened
1 large egg
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 Tbsp. heavy whipping cream
For crust, heat oven to 325F. Spray two (4-1/2") springform pans with non-stick cooking spray; set aside. In work bowl of food processor, pulse hazelnuts, just till coarsely chopped. Reserve 2 Tbsp. for topping. Add flour, 2-1/2 Tbsp. sugar, and 1-1/2 tsp. cocoa to work bowl, and pulse till nuts are finely ground and ingredients are well mixed together. Add melted butter and 1 tsp. liqueur and pulse again till well blended. Press mixture onto bottom of pans. Bake 7-8 minutes, or just till set and beginning to brown. Transfer to wire rack to cool completely.
For filling, wipe work bowl clean with damp paper towel. Pulse 1 (8-oz.) pkg. cream cheese with remaining 1-1/2 tsp. cocoa and remaining 1/3 cup sugar till well blended and smooth; scrape down sides. Add egg, and pulse briefly, just to combine. Scrape down sides. Add vanilla, sour cream, remaining 2 tsp. liqueur, and melted chocolate; pulse briefly to combine. Scrape sides and bottom with spatula, making sure there are no lumps and all ingredients are distributed well. Pour carefully into cooled crust. Bake at 325F about 25-30 minutes, or till sides are puffed and set but center is still jiggly. Place cheesecake in a closed area (such as a microwave oven) free of drafts for one hour while it cools and continues to cook. Transfer to wire rack to finish cooling. Refrigerate 3 hours or overnight.