Chocolate Almond Cheesecake

Chocolate Almond Cheesecake

<img alt="chocolate almond cheesecake"/>

Three more days until we leave for Italy.  Only three.  Do you have any idea how crazy I am making sure everything is just so?  Perfectly arranged?  Meticulously organized?  I’m a stark raving madwoman.

I feel like Martha must.

<img alt="chocolate almond cheesecake"/>

Or not.  I thought I’d be so smart and schedule posts on some of the Italian food I’ve been making so my blog wouldn’t look forlorn while we were gone.  But have I scheduled those posts?  Um…no.  *looks at calendar on iMac and calculates possibilities…twitching…*

Where does the time go?

*regains composure…* I do have a very nice bittersweet chocolate cheesecake for you though.  Remember that luscious Fresh Cherry Gelato a few days ago?  Well, this was its accompaniment — and what a perfect one it was.  The almond extract and cherries in the gelato played perfectly against the dark chocolate and the crunch of almonds.  In case you miss that line, I will repeat it later.  You know.  Just for effect.

<img alt="chocolate almond cheesecake"/>

The next day, it went perfectly with the mixed berries we had for breakfast, too.

The recipe is yet again from the April ’08 issue of Gourmet magazine which I’ve cooked my way through as we’ve prepared for our vacation. Okay, so maybe I do have some things to write about.  If I stay up until dawn’s crack each night, I’ll be sufficiently exhausted to actually sleep on the 79-hour flight ahead of us).  Pigs will fly, of course, before that happens.

Evidently, this recipe was inspired by a dessert the author enjoyed in a restaurant in Perugia, Italy.  Although we will have to wave out the window of the Eurostar Alta Velocita as we pass Perugia at about 300 km/h on our way to Florence, I can say that I will remember the tang of this dessert.

<img alt="chocolate almond cheesecake with cherry gelato"/>

Recipe Notes

  • The original recipe, Torta di Cioccolata al Forno con Vaniglia e Nocciola, can be found here.
  • I used whole raw almonds in an equal quantity instead of the hazelnuts called for, hence the “Chocolate Almond Cheesecake.”
  • Make sure you use the whole wheat crackers called for.  It seems a bit odd, but they create an excellent crust with a pleasant crunch instead of the sometimes too sweet crust that cheesecakes can have.
  • I used a convection setting, and the cheesecake still needed to be in the oven longer than I expected — the full 90 minutes.  Usually, the convection setting cut down a bit on the cooking time.  Keep an eye on the center and insert a wooden pick to test for doneness.  The crust will crack and drop — it’s expected to.  I’m not one to fuss over a cracked top on my cheesecake, so no biggie.
  • I used a standing mixer in the first step to “whisk in cream cheese” with the melted chocolate and butter for the crust.  Even at room temp, the cream cheese wouldn’t exactly “whisk” with a normal kitchen whisk.  I had fun thinking about it, though, while I was lifting my Bertha from her throne in my kitchen.
  • When the directions mention to “whisk together eggs and sugar…until mixture has a mousse-like consistency” please know this took at least 5 solid minutes of mixing on medium (KA 4).
  • This is an interesting cheesecake.  The combination of the bittersweet chocolate, cream cheese, sour cream and nuts provide an intensely tart taste with crunch.  Nice.  Creamy, too.
  • The berries are simply turbinado sprinkled over and let to macerate for about 30 minutes.  Simple.
  • I’m thinking cherries left to macerate would be lovely over this and that heavenly Cherry Gelato.

Next time…right?  But wait.  I just saw two new gelato recipes…one for pistachio, and the other for a dark chocolate.