Filed under: Cheesecakes
April 21, 2023

Hazelnut Cheesecake

Creamy creamy cheesecake made with homemade hazelnut paste, housed in a mix of cookie crumbs and ground hazelnuts.

5 from 1 vote
Yield: 1 tall 8" cheesecake
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The hazelnut version of my pistachio cheesecake; where instead of a hint of a taste of a non-vanilla cheesecake, your tastebuds get smothered in the starring flavor. This is a cheesecake for hazelnut lovers only! 


Here’s whats awesome about this hazelnut cheesecake recipe: you’re going to make your own hazelnut paste by grinding up the nuts, it’ll be fresh and without any added sugars or oils; it’s a very simple process (much of it is done in the food processor) form start to finish, although it does need patience; and the water bath is a sure shot to getting an utterly creamy cheesecake without any of the stress or worry. 


See also: hazelnut chocolate chip cookies, hazelnut snacking cake, and chocolate hazelnut tart


Key Recipe Ingredients 


Hazelnuts: Raw, blanched hazelnuts are preferred (costco sells them in bulk) but you can also go with nuts that still have some skin, it’ll just pepper your hazelnut butter with some color and bits. In either case they must be raw, don’t use toasted. 


Cookie Crumbs: I like to use digestive cookies which work a lot like graham crackers but you can use graham if you like as well. Oreos would work fine too but scrape off the cream before you grind them. If you choose to keep the cream on, you’ll need to reduce the butter listed in the recipe by 2-3 tablespoons. You’re looking for the texture of slightly wet sand. 


Powdered sugar: This will sweeten and help the cookie crust bind together better. 


Brown sugar: Light or dark is fine. If you don’t have any you can use granulated but dark adds a lovely accent flavor.  


Cream cheese: Full fat bricks. Not spreadable and not low-fat. Both of those have more water in them so they are softer and we need the cream cheese to be quite firm. It’s IMPERATIVE the cream cheese is at full room temperature before you start making the filling. 


Heavy cream: While I usually use sour cream for my cheesecakes the hazelnut butter adds some heaviness to the filling so we’re lightening it up here with heavy cream (also called heavy whipping cream). If you are trying to make this dairy free (and have dairy free cream cheese) use coconut cream in lieu of the heavy cream. 


How to make Hazelnut Butter for Hazelnut Cheesecake 


Toast the hazelnuts: We’ll start with raw hazelnuts that way we can toast them ourselves, to prepare them for processing. Spread them onto a large cake pan (I use a 13×9”) and set them in the oven for 10-12 minutes, until they are fragrant. Shake the pan halfway through the bake time, to toast them evenly. 


Process the warm hazelnuts: Immediately after they are done toasting in the oven, pour the nuts into the food processor and begin grinding them. They’ll turn into chopped nuts, then tiny ground nuts, powdery and as you keep going the nuts will begin to release their oils. You’ll see a paste starting to form, and as you keep scraping the bowl and processing it will get looser and looser. After about 10 minutes (sometimes more if the food processor is not very strong) it should be runny, see the video for guidance. 


Tips for a perfectly baked cheesecake


Beat cream cheese well: There is a balance to strike when making cheesecakes; you want to make sure that the cream cheese has no lumps in it before you begin adding the eggs and cream, but don’t over beat it. When you over beat it the cream cheese loosens (think of an overly soft cream cheese frosting) and it kind of ruins the texture of the cheesecake. 


Sometimes I like to start out with a rubber spatula, pressing the cream cheese into the bowl over and over to press out any lumps. 


Don’t over mix the batter: Once the eggs go into the cheesecake you’ll want to avoid over beating the filling. Over beating the eggs can cause the cheesecake to sink in the center. Focus most of the mixing and scraping before the eggs go in, and then once they are in, mix until you can’t spot any more egg bits and no more. 


Use a water bath: I bake my cheesecakes in cake pans and put the cake pan in another cake pan. While I never get those perfectly sharp edges you might get with a springform, a. My cheesecakes never sink and b. I never need to worry about water getting in. 


The water should come up about halfway up the smaller cake pan. It creates a barrier between the hot oven and the cheesecake so that it’s the warm water that’s baking the cheesecake. This is going to give us a very creamy texture. 


Bake carefully: Check the cheesecake at about 1 hour, shake the pan to see how the batter jiggles. If it’s overly jiggly it will need an additional 15-20 minutes. If it’s starting to set at the sides you might just need another five. You’ll stop when only the center jiggles a bit. If you see brown spots developing, these are likely from hot spots in the oven. They aren’t cute but they aren’t damaging so don’t worry too much about them. 


Cool slowly: Never take a cheesecake out of the oven as soon as it’s done baking. Let the oven cool, and the cheesecake left inside while it does. Give it at least half an hour in the cooling oven before you take it out. Similarly, don’t put it in the fridge right away, let it set at room temperature then transfer. 


Topping options for the hazelnut cheesecake 


Chocolate ganache: Obviously chocolate and hazelnut go together beautifully. To make a chocolate ganache to top it with; melt 150g dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids) chopped very fine and pour 140g warm heavy cream over it. The heavy cream should be heated just until it begins to steam on the stove before adding to the chocolate. 

Once you’ve poured it over, give it a quick stir then let it set for a minute. Now stir until the ganache is smooth. Top it over a chilled cheesecake. 

If you wanted to do a milk chocolate ganache, use the same process using 150g milk chocolate but lower the amount of heavy cream to 75g. 


Hazelnut praline: There is a pecan praline recipe right above this brown butter cheesecake. Swap hazelnuts for the pecans, it’ll be lovely. 


Whipped cream: In a food processor add 2 cups cold heavy cream, 2 tablespoons granulated, brown or powdered sugar, a pinch of salt and 1-2 teaspoons of pure vanilla paste or extract. Process on high until thick, about 1-2 minutes. This is stabilized whipped cream and will not separate in the fridge so you can make it ahead of time. 


Hazelnut Cheesecake

Creamy creamy cheesecake made with homemade hazelnut paste, housed in a mix of cookie crumbs and ground hazelnuts.
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 2 hours
Chill Time: 6 hours
Yields: 1 tall 8" cheesecake
5 from 1 vote


Hazelnut butter

  • 2 cups blanched hazelnuts

Hazelnut Crust

  • 240 g or 2 cups digestive cookies ground into crumbs
  • 125 g or 1 cup toasted hazelnuts ground
  • 113 g butter melted (salted or unsalted)
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar

Hazelnut Filling

  • 453 g or 2 bricks cream cheese very soft and at room temperature
  • 155 g or ¾ cups brown sugar light or dark
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • ½ tsp fine sea salt
  • 160 g ⅔ cup hazelnut butter from above
  • 120 g or ½ cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 2 large eggs


(do ahead) Make the hazelnut butter

  • Preheat the oven to 350 F. Set blanched nuts on a cookie sheet and toast for about 10 minutes, shaking the pan at the 5 minute mark.
  • While still hot, pour the nuts into a food processor. Grind the nuts on high, they’ll first chop, then turn powdery, after about 5-7 minutes of grinding and scraping down the bowl as needed, they’ll begin to turn into a paste. Keep processing on high until the paste is very runny, almost like soup. Transfer to a jar and store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. You'll likely have more than you need for this recipe.

Make the crust

  • Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a greased 8” cake pan (NOT SPRINGFORM) with parchment paper, using metal clips to keep the parchment in place.
  • In a food processor, grind the nuts until chopped very finely. Process the cookies until you have crumbs.
  • Melt the butter in a bowl and add the powdered sugar, nuts, and cookie crumbs. Mix well. Press the wet crumbs into the bottom and up the sides of the cake pan. The crumbs won’t stick perfectly to the sides, just do your best. Use the bottom of a ⅓ measuring cup (coat it in powdered sugar or flour) to help you tuck the crumbs into neat, tight layers.
  • Bake the crust for 10 minutes, and lower the heat to 325 F. Set aside to cool while you make the filling.

Make the filling

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer affixed with the paddle attachment, start mixing hte cream cheese on the lowest setting. Use a rubber spatula to scrape it down and press it until you cant find any lumps. Add the brown sugar, salt and vanilla and mix well.
  • Add the hazelnut butter, scrape down the bowl and mix until well blended.
  • Add the flour, and eggs and while the mixer is on, pour in the heavy cream. Mix to just combine.
  • If you see any lumps in the cream cheese at this point, consider running the batter through a fine mesh sieve to remove them. There will be very tiny 'bits' from the hazelnut paste but those are fine to keep in the filling (and they add a hint of texture).
  • Pour the batter into the cooled crust. Fill a 13 x9” cake pan halfway with water. Place the cheesecake pan in the water and set it in the oven.
  • (If you see any dark spots starting to form on top it’s probably from some hot spots on the roof of the oven, gently nudge the pan away from those areas.)
  • Bake for 1 hour or 75 minutes, until you can jiggle the cheesecake pan and most of it looks set, save the center.
  • Turn off the oven and let the cheesecake cool while still inside. Prop a wooden spoon in the door to allow it to cool. After about a half hour you can take the cheesecake out and set it on the counter. When it’s at room temperature, transfer to the fridge. Chill overnight, or at least for 6 hours.

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