I am a very last minute type of person. This is a problem when I start looking for a recipe the day of an event. In this case it is Valentine’s Day and I decide I want to make cheesecake. Cheesecake is my fiancé’s favorite dessert and I don’t make very often, so I knew it would be a special treat. The problem is, most cheesecake needs to sit overnight in the refrigerator to set. So the best thing about this recipe, besides how delicious it is, is that it doesn’t have to sit and can be eaten when it is still warm!
Although this recipe is not by any definition healthy, I wanted to share it because I believe in balance. It’s why I am plant-based and not 100% vegan or vegetarian. I want to eat what is healthy for myself and the environment most of the time but I also want to indulge on special holidays or when I simply need treat.
These cheesecakes are nutty, a little rustic and super fluffy. The chocolate ganache adds a smooth chocolatey richness to the light cheesecake.
I made the recipe as individual cheesecakes baked in a muffin tin. It is easier to portion it out and easier to share. So we each had one after for a Valentine’s dessert and the rest went to work with him today so I wouldn’t be tempted to eat them over the next week until they are finally gone!
The Recipe is from SWEET by Ottolenghi and Goh. I love all of his cookbooks and this is another beautifully done book filled with delicious, indulgent and unique recipes.
chocolate hazelnut ricotta cheesecake
Makes 18 in a muffin tin or 1 large cake in a springform pan
1 1/4 cups (200g) hazelnuts, Ottelenghi’s recipe calls for 300g hazelnuts and no peanuts
3 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
5 1/2 oz (160g) chocolate (70% cocoa solids), roughly chopped
1 cup (100g) almond meal, I used raw almonds and put them in the blender until they became flour.
1 cup (225g) unsalted butter, at room temperature, roughly chopped, plus more for greasing the pan
1 1/4 cup (250g) granulated sugar
6 large eggs, separating whites and yolks
3/4 cup (200g) ricotta cheese, Ottelenghi’s recipe calls for 400g ricotta and no cream cheese
3/4 cup (200g) cream cheese
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 oz (100g) dark chocolate, 70% cocoa solids, roughly chopped
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/3 cup (80mL) water
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or 1 vanilla bean pod scraped
3 tablespoons (40g) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into small cubes
sea salt (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 350 F/180 C.
- Cut parchment paper into rounds to fit in the bottom of the muffin tins. Grease the edges of the pan.
- Place hazelnuts and peanuts on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast for 10 minutes, until slightly toasted. Remove from the oven and let sit to completely cool. You do not want to start processing when they are still hot because the oil will start to separate.
- Roughly chop 1/3 cup or 50g of the nuts and set aside, this will be used to top each cheesecake. Place the remainder of the nuts in a food processor, along with the flour. Process until fine crumbs, you can add the almonds as well at this point if you are making your own almond meal. Place flour and nut mixture into a medium bowl.
- Place the chocolate into the food processor and process until large crumbs form. Add the chocolate to the flour mixture.
- Increase oven temperature to 375 F/ 190 C.
- Place the butter and sugar in a bowl of a stand mixture with the paddle attachment and beat on medium-high for about 3 minutes. You want it to be light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating after each addition. Turn the mixer to low and add the flour, nut, chocolate mixture. Continue to mix until just combined.
- Remove mixture from the stand mixer and place in a large bowl. Place ricotta and cream cheese in the mixer and mix until combined and creamy. Add the cheese mixture to the flour mixture and stir until combined. Add vanilla and salt and stir. Set aside.
- Clean the stand mixer bowl and dry it well. Add the egg whites and beat them with the whisk attachment until stiff peaks form. Using a spatula fold the egg whites into the cake mixture in 2 -3 batches.
- Fill the muffin tins almost to the top and bake for 20 minutes, or 60 minutes if using a large springform pan. Bake until golden brown and when a skewer is inserted a few crumbs will come out but it is not wet. Remove from the oven and let cool.
- While the cake is cooling you can make the ganache. The ganache can also be made a few days in advance, you can take it out of the fridge and warm over the stove for a few minutes until it is a runny consistency again.
- Place the chopped chocolate in a medium bowl and set aside.
- Put the sugar and corn syrup in a small saucepan or small non-stick skillet. Place over medium-low heat until the sugar melts. Once the sugar melts, increase the heat to medium and bring the sugar mix to a boil. Continue gently stirring every 30 seconds or so until it is a pale amber color.
- Remove from the heat and add the water. It will sizzle but continue to stir and place back on the heat. Add the vanilla bean paste and stir until the mixture is all melted and returns to a boil. Let cool slightly and then pour over the chocolate.
- Allow to stand and melt the chocolate for 3-5 minutes. Whisk the mixture until melted and combined. Add the butter in small cubes a couple at a time. Stirring and melting butter after each addition. Whisk until all the butter is combined and you have a silky, smooth ganache.
- Spoon the ganache over the cooled cheesecakes, let it drip over the sides. Sprinkle with the toasted chopped nuts, serve and enjoy!