2000s Recipes + Menus

Torta di Cioccolata al Forno con Vaniglia e Nocciola

Perugian-Style Chocolate Hazelnut Cheesecake

Serves6 to 10
  • Active time:30 min
  • Start to finish:3 hr (includes cooling)
April 2008
For this sophisticated cake, which will thrill any fan of bittersweet chocolate, Ferrigno took inspiration from a favorite Perugian café called Bar Sandri—Perugia being, as she puts it, the “firm historical chocolate capital” of Italy. And inspiration was all she could take: She requested the recipe from the chef several times, but he wouldn’t divulge it. Desperate, she played around with the ingredients until she came up with something that tasted right.

This recipe is part of Ursula Ferrigno's Taste of Umbria menu. The menu also includes Flatbread Stuffed with Cheese and Prosciutto and Lasagne in Bianco.

For crust

  • 1/4 lb wheatmeal crackers (digestive biscuits; see cooks’ note), finely crushed (about 1 cup)
  • 1 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (no more than 60% cacao if marked), grated
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted

For filling

  • 1/2 lb fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (no more than 60% cacao if marked), chopped
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 lb 2 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup superfine granulated sugar
  • 1 cup hazelnuts (4 1/2 oz), toasted, loose skins rubbed off in a kitchen towel while still warm, and nuts chopped
  • Equipment:

    a 10-inch springform pan
  • Accompaniment:

    lightly sweetened whipped cream

Make crust:

  • Combine all ingredients, then press onto bottom of springform pan.

Make filling and bake cheesecake:

  • Preheat oven to 325°F with rack in middle.
  • Melt chocolate with butter, then remove from heat and whisk in cream cheese until smooth. Whisk in sour cream and vanilla.
  • Whisk together eggs and sugar in a large bowl until mixture has a mousse-like consistency, then stir in chocolate mixture and nuts.
  • Pour filling into crust and bake 1 1/2 hours. (Top will be slightly cracked.)
  • Cool to room temperature in pan on a rack, about 1 hour, then chill at least 1 hour. (Cake will sink slightly.)
Cooks’ notes:
  • Wheatmeal biscuits are British-style whole-wheat crackers. Look for Carr’s (labeled “Whole Wheat Crackers” and found at most supermarkets) or McVitie’s brand (found at some specialty foods shops).
  • Chocolate hazelnut cheesecake can be chilled up to 1 day. Bring to room temperature before serving.
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