Put the hazelnuts in a dry frying pan and toss for a minute or two
over a medium flame, or until lightly toasted. Wrap the nuts in a clean
tea towel and rub them between your palms to remove some of the skins
(don't worry if bits of skin remain here and there).
Break up the chocolate digestives and place them, with the hazelnuts,
in a food processor fitted with a metal blade, or a liquidiser. Process
to coarse crumbs, but don't over-process, which will make the chocolate
sticky. Place in a bowl, add the soft butter and stir well to combine.
Press the mixture evenly onto the base of a non-stick 24-cm spring-form cake tin. Place in the fridge while you make the topping.
Put the water in a little heat-proof bowl or ramekin and sprinkle the gelatin on top. Set aside for a few minutes, or until the gelatin has
sponged. Put the bowl in a pot of simmering water (the water should
come half-way up the sides) and stir occasionally as the gelatin melts.
When the liquid is clear, remove the bowl from the hot water and set
aside to cool for a few minutes.
Combine the cream cheese, caster sugar and Franjelico in a large
bowl, using a whisk or rotary beater. Cut the vanilla pod in half,
scrape out the black seeds with the blade of a knife, and add to the
mixture. Add the warm gelatin mixture and stir well to combine. Whip
the cream in a separate bowl until it forms soft peaks. Fold half the
cream into the cream cheese mixture, and then fold in the other half.
Pour the mixture into the cake tin and tap the tin gently on the counter top to release any bubbles. Place in the fridge for four hours to
Melt the chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Place in a piping bag fitted with a fine nozzle (or make a piping bag from greaseproof paper; a syringe will also do). Scribble the chocolate all over the cake.
If there's any chocolate left over, scribble a few more patterns on a
piece of greaseproof paper, allow to set, peel off and arrange on top
of the cheesecake. Refrigerate for another 30 minutes, or until the
chocolate is cold and set. Release the cake from its tin (see Cook's
). Slice into portions (see Cook's Notes, below
) and serve with a few extra toasted hazelnuts.Cook's Notes
- There are various methods of loosening a gelatine-set dessert from
its mould. Professional chefs use a blowtorch, which is briefly flicked
over the outside of the tin, but this is a risky business, as a few
seconds too long can liquefy the outside of the cheesecake and, besides,
it's useless if you're using a plastic jelly mould. A better way is to
dip a kitchen cloth in boiling water, and press it to outside of the
cold tin for a few seconds. But the best way of all, I've found, is to
use a hot pack designed for soothing acheing muscles. If you don't have a Happy Hugger,
here's how to make one yourself. (I keep one of these in my kitchen
drawer for the sole purpose of loosening jellies!). Steal a long cotton
sock from someone's drawer. Fill it with rice or barley, and tie a firm
knot in the open end. Place the sock in a microwave oven for 2-3
minutes, or until very warm to the touch. Press the hot pack around the
edges of the gelatine mould, for 30 seconds at a time, moving it around
the edges as necessary. At the same time, release the spring-form lever
in small increments.
- When you cut the cheesecake, use a hot knife (heated over a flame,
or in a bowl of boiling water) to slice through the chocolate scribbles,
then switch to a cool knife to cut through the rest.
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