Ok half a virgin (my previous attempt at age 15 had failed miserably so I refuse to acknowledge it).
I have always been scared of cheesecake.
It always seemed too fiddly, folding whipped cream or using gelatine. It just seemed to be a set up for failure.
I have also not been much of a cheesecake fan. My Mum doesn't like cheesecake so I guess out of the following in her footsteps and the constant seeking for approval complexes that I too do not like cheesecake (that much).
Anyway, back to the story of how this cheesecake came to be.
Remember my good friend Jamal? I made him this carrot cake last year for his 20th birthday. Exactly a year later (funny how birthdays are an annual thing) I am making him another cake. This year however I had promised him a cheesecake. He loves cheesecake.
So I prepared to get out of my comfort zone and overcome my fear of cheesecake for Jamal. Because he is worth it. I wasn't too sure what type to make, it wasn't allowed to contain gelatine so it either had to be baked or heavily cream cheese based.
I saw lots of links online to delicious looking masterpieces but I wanted something simple.
I consulted my hero. Nigella.
Trust Nigella to have a wickedly rich cheesecake recipe that was simple as to do. She is a legend.
I made a few adjustments based on my life rules:
1) You can never have too much nutella. So I added a wee bit more to the base.
2) You can never have too much dark chocolate. So I melted some in.
3) Hazelnuts are good. So I put in two packets rather than the 100g required.
The only problem with adding more nutella is that you then require more than one jar. Ok to be honest I used Pams hazelnut spread because I am too poor for the real deal but it still worked. The good thing about Pams is that they have a 400g jar (which is what you need for the filling) and a 220g jar which is a perfect wee top up for all the spoonfuls that accidentally make their way into your mouth over the course of making this. So I recommend buying both. The worst part is that you have left over spread in the cupboard . . .
You will need to toast the hazelnuts. You do this buy baking the nuts for 10 minutes at 180 degrees on a piece of baking paper. You then transfer them to a clean tea towel and rub them between it to remove the skins. The skins are bitter and you don't want them in this magical dessert. The toasting also helps to enhance that wonderful hazelnutty aroma we all know and love. Just keep and eye on them and be careful not to burn them.
Also, the best thing about this is that you only need to leave it to set in the fridge.
The only problem with this is that you need to exert patience whilst waiting for it to set.
Adapted from Nigella Lawson's recipe
Makes 20cm cheesecake
250g (1 packet) digestive biscuits
75g butter, softened,
3 tablespoons nutella (from that small jar)
40g of toasted hazelnuts
100g 75% + cocoa solids dark chocolate, melted either in a double boiler or carefully in the microwave
500g cream cheese (2 tubs), at room temperature
75g icing sugar, sieved
100g toasted hazelnuts, chopped
In a food processor, grind up the hazelnuts. Then add the digestive biscuits and blast until a coarse crumb. Add in the butter and nutella and pulse until evenly distributed.
Line the base of a 20cm springform cake tin with baking paper (you trap a piece of baking paper in between the base and the outer ring). Grease the sides with butter.
Press the base mixture firmly into the base of the tin and place in the freezer to chill whilst you make the filling.
Cream together the cream cheese and icing sugar until aerated and light. Spoonful by spoonful add the nutella until it has all been added.
Very slowly add the melted chocolate whilst beating. If you add it all in at once you will melt the cream cheese.
Gently mix it together until a dark, smooth mixture lies in front of you.
Place about a half cup of this filling mixture on the base of the cheesecake. Sprinkle a small handful of the chopped hazelnuts over this. Then pour over the rest of the filling. Scatter over the rest of the hazelnuts. Cover with cling film then leave to set in the fridge overnight.
To release this from the tin, carefully pour hot water over the sides of the tin. This should melt the very outer surface slightly. Then release the spring form lever and slide the cheesecake off the base.