Americans have only lately begun to appreciate the glories of the hazelnut, so beloved throughout Europe. Once you've tasted Hazelnut Cheesecake, you will have experienced one of the great earthly joys.
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup melted butter
2 pounds cream cheese, at room temperature
11/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel
1 cup hazelnuts, toasted and finely ground
1 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
12 whole hazelnuts
Butter the sides of a 9-inch springform pan.
Make graham cracker crumbs by rolling the crackers between two sheets of waxed paper with a rolling pin or by grinding them in a blender or food processor. Lightly blend the crumbs, butter, and sugar with a fork and press this mixture into the bottom of the springform pan.
Preheat the oven to 3500
Using a food processor or an electric beater, whip the cream cheese, and add the eggs one at a time, until the batter is thin and smooth.
Add the sugar and whip again until smooth. Add the lemon peel and ground hazelnuts and blend well. Pour the batter onto the crust.
Bake for 1 to 11/2 hours until golden brown and firm. Allow the cheesecake to cool in the pan for at least one hour.
When the cake is completely cool, remove it from the pan to a serving plate. Combine the sour cream, powdered sugar,
and vanilla and spread on top of the cheesecake. Decorate the outer edge of the cake top with the whole hazelnuts.