Bittersweet Chocolate Cheesecake
Christi Caywood - South Carolina

One of my favorite and very easy to make...

1 cup chocolate wafer crumbs
1/2 cup finely chopped toasted hazelnuts
1/3 cup butter (melted)
3 packages (8oz. each) cream cheese
1 cup sugar
12 squares (1 oz. each) bittersweet baking chocolate*, melted and cooled
3 eggs
1 cup (8 oz.) sour cream
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Pinch salt

GLAZE:
4 squares (1oz. each) bittersweet baking chocolate*
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
strawberries (cut up in wedges and whole)

In a bowl, combine crumbs, hazelnuts and butter; press onto the bottom of an ungreased 9-inch springform pan. In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add chocolate; beat in eggs, one at a time. Stir in sour cream, extracts and salt; pour over the crust. Bake at 350 for 60-65 minutes or until the center is nearly set. Cool to room temperature. For glaze, melt chocolate and cream in a microwave or double boiler; stir until smooth. Add vanilla. Dip a few whole strawberries into the chocolate glaze and place them on wax paper or plastic wrap to dry. Carefully run a knife between the cake and the sides of the pan; remove sides of pan. Cut remaining strawberries into wedges. Spread strawberry wedges on top of the cake and drizzle chocolate glaze on top of the strawberries and place whole chocolate covered strawberries on that to top it off.

*NOTE: Semisweet baking chocolate may be substituted for the bittersweet chocolate.

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