1 1/4 cups blanched hazelnuts
1/3 cup water
11/2 cups granulated sugar
Vanilla hazelnut filling:
2 cups mascarpone, at room temperature
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup reserved ground hazelnut toffee, above
Hazelnut toffee pieces, above
Make the toffee:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spread hazelnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast 10 to 12 minutes, shaking the pan two or three times, until the nuts are golden in color. Cool completely. Coarsely chop nuts and set aside.
2. In a medium saucepan, combine the water and sugar. Cook over high heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar
dissolves and turns amber. Quickly, yet carefully, remove from heat and stir in the hazelnuts. Immediately transfer toffee onto a parchment lined cookie sheet. Allow to cool completely.
3. Thoroughly butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Break toffee into quarter-sized pieces. Set aside 8 pieces of toffee to be used as decoration. Place the remaining toffee in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade and pulse until it resembles coarse bread crumbs. Set aside 1/3 cup of the ground toffee. Press the remaining toffee into the bottom of the springform and bake for 10 minutes. Allow to cool completely.
Make the vanilla hazelnut filling:
4. Position the rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 350°F.
5. Place the mascarpone in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse 2 to 3 times just until smooth. Add the cream cheese, sour cream, sugar and the seeds from the vanilla bean and process just until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a plastic spatula. Add the eggs, one at a time, pulsing only until incorporated and scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Add the salt and pulse only until smooth. Do not overprocess.
6. Measure out one cup of the batter and set aside. Pour the remaining batter into the springform pan. Combine the reserved ground toffee with the one cup of reserved batter in a medium mixing bowl. Transfer the mixture to a two- or 4-cup spouted measuring cup. Starting in the center of the cake, in a spiral pattern, slowly and evenly pour the hazelnut batter over the vanilla batter.
7. Cover the top of the springform pan with a piece of aluminum foil (not heavy duty). Bake for one hour. Remove the pan from the oven opening and closing the oven as quickly as possible. Remove the aluminum foil from the pan. Return the pan to the oven. Turn off heat and allow cheesecake to remain in the oven for one hour longer with the door slightly ajar. Remove from oven and cool completely on a wire rack. Cover the pan tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least six hours or overnight, until well chilled.
8. Remove the cheesecake from the refrigerator 30 minutes before serving. Run a thin, flexible knife between cake and the sides of the pan to loosen if necessary. Remove springform.
9. To serve, cut the cheesecake with a sharp thin-bladed knife, dipping the blade in hot water and wiping it dry after each slice. Garnish with reserved toffee pieces.
Cafe de la Mer, 1287 S. Hemlock, Cannon Beach, Oregon 97110-1039; 503-436-1179.
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