Chocolate Almond Cheesecake

Ghirardelli Chocolate-Almond Layered Cheesecake

2/3 cup almonds, finely chopped
1 1/4 cups finely crushed vanilla wafers
1/3 cup butter, melted

8 ounces (2 baking bars) Ghiradelli Bittersweet
Chocolate, broken into1-inch pieces
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup almond-flavored liqueur
1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Grease a 9-inch springform pan. Place the almonds on a baking sheet and toast in the preheated oven for 4 minutes. Allow almonds to cool.

Place the toasted almonds in a food processor and process until finely ground. Combine the wafer crumbs, ground almonds and butter. Mix well. Press the mixture onto the bottom of the spring-form pan and 1 1/2 inches up the sides. Bake 8 minutes. Place on a wire rack and let cool completely.

To prepare the filling, melt the chocolate in a double boiler over hot, but not boiling, water. Stir occasionally until the chocolate is smooth.
Set aside.

In a medium-size mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese on low just until smooth. Gradually add the sugar and combine beating until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beaters with a rubber spatula. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the bowl as needed. With the mixer on low, gradually add the sour cream, almond liqueur, and salt, beating just until smooth.

Divide the batter in half. Add the melted chocolate to one half of the batter, stirring until smooth. Pour the chocolate batter into the crust; spread to create one even layer. Carefully spoon the plain batter on top of the chocolate batter. Place the pan in the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 325 degrees F. Bake cake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the center is just set.

Turn off the oven, and leave the cake inside for 30 minutes with the oven door closed. Transfer the cheesecake to a wire rack. Loosen it from the sides of the pan with a metal spatula. Let the cheesecake cool completely, then chill it at least 8 hours or overnight. Store covered in the refrigerator.

Yields 16 servings


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