Winter In The Woods

Winter In The Woods

Louise Smith
This recipe was inspired by a dear friend who challenged me to make a cheesecake with Nutella, a favorite flavor of his. Although I had no idea – at the time – what on earth I would do, I researched, I practiced, I created. This recipe is based on that challenge with the tweak of making it fit into the holiday theme. So, the topping is really the only addition to the baisc recipe I made for my dear friend years ago.
Course Dessert


For the Crust:

  • 1 Cup Ground Chocolate Cookies Wafers
  • 1 Cup Chopped Hazelnuts
  • 3 tsp Granulated Sugar
  • 4 tbsp Unsalted Butter – Melted

For the Batter:

  • 2 lbs Cream Cheese (Bricks, not whipped) Room Temperature
  • 1 Cup Nutella
  • 1.5 Cups Granulated Sugar
  • 1 tbsp All Purpose Flour Sifted
  • 2 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1 tbsp Frangelica Hazelnut Liqueur
  • 4 Eggs Room Temperature

For the Topping:

  • 1/2 Cup 72% Chocolate (Dark Chocolate) Shaved
  • 1/2 Cup Fresh Coconut Flaked



  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray or grease with butter, a 10-inch spring form pan or removable bottom pan.

Make the Crust:

  • In a large bowl, with your clean hands, mix together the chocolate wafer crumbs, chopped hazelnuts, melted butter and sugar until combined. Press the mixture onto the bottom of the pan and a bit up the sides with the palm of your hand or the bottom of a drinking glass.
  • Bake prepared crust in the preheated 350 degree oven for 10 minutes, until set. Cool for 10-15 minutes.

Make the Batter:

  • In a large bowl using a hand mixer or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the softened cream cheese until whipped, about 3 minutes and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Add the Nutella, sugar and flour and mix until no lumps are visible. Scrape down the sides once again. Add the vanilla extract and Frangelica, mix for about 1 minute and scrape down the sides of the bowl again. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing for about 20 seconds with the addition of each egg, until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and make sure there are no lumps and that you have a smooth batter.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared crust and bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes (see notes). Check the cake by gently shaking the pan to see if the center is still wobbly. It's okay for the center to be a little wobbly, as it will set as it cools on the counter and further in the refrigerator for 6-hours to preferably, overnight.

Make the Topping:

  • Once the cheesecake has cooled, remove it from the baking pan and place on a serving dish and shave* the chocolate over the top and add the flaked coconut.


Precise bake time can vary depending on your oven, as well as whether you bake your cheesecake on a baking pan or not, the color of your springform pan (light or dark), and even the precise temperature of your ingredients.
Because of this I recommend checking your cheesecake at 50 minutes and adding time as needed. However, it is not uncommon for the cheesecake to take as long as 75 minutes to bake, but it’s better to check sooner.
*Shaving chocolate: There are various methods to shaving chocolate, including shaving straight from the bar of chocolate or melting the chocolate. To shave directly from the chocolate bar, use a vegetable peeler or a knife to shave the chocolate. Some chefs prefer to chill the chocolate before shaving, others recommend utilizing room temperature. I like the chocolate bar to be a little chilled, which seems to give me more control (and less chocolate mess on my hands!).
To melt the chocolate, use a double boiler (or a glass bowl set over a pot containing about an inch of water, making sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a slow simmer and stir the chocolate until smooth, making sure the water doesn’t boil over  onto the stove. Once it’s completely melted, spread the chocolate onto a cookie sheet (sheet pan) lined with parchment paper or even just directly onto the back of the cookie sheet and then refrigerate until solid – about 10 minutes – and scrape and curl the chocolate off the parchment paper or back of the sheet pan with a spatula, knife or off-set spatula.
BONUS TIP: When I use a stand mixer, I take a hand whisk and whisk the batter for about 20-30 seconds to ensure the batter is smooth. I don’t find this necessary when using a hand mixer.
SEASONAL ADAPTATION: White Chocolate! If you are not a fan of coconut, substitute with white chocolate and follow the above instructions for shaving suggestions.

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