Italians are crazy about the combination of hazelnuts and chocolate known as gianduja. There are gianduja chocolate bars, ice cream, sauces, and cakes, but the most popular version of this suave flavor combo is the smooth, creamy spread sold under the brand name Nutella. Kids and adults alike eat it on toast for breakfast, spread it on cookies for a snack, and even stuff it into hot pizza crust for dessert. Nutella is pretty popular here, too, and is widely available in supermarkets, though there are other brands on the market. Inspired by a version I had in Italy, I came up with this luscious cheesecake, a must for Nutella fans. Serves 8 •3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more for the pan •⅔ cup chocolate wafer cookie crumbs •1 15- to 16-ounce container whole-milk ricotta •⅔ cup Nutella or other chocolate hazelnut spread •¼ cup sugar •2 large eggs
Place a rack in a large slow cooker. Butter a 7-inch springform pan. Place the pan in the center of a large sheet of aluminum foil and wrap the foil around the sides so that water cannot enter. In a small bowl, stir together the cookie crumbs and the 3 table- spoons melted butter. Press the mixture firmly into the base of the pre- pared pan. Place the pan in the refrigerator. In a food processor or with a hand mixer, beat the ricotta and Nutella with the sugar until very smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, and process until blended, stopping once or twice to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Pour the mixture into the pan. Place the pan on the rack in the slow cooker. Pour hot water to a depth of about 1 inch around the pan. Cover and cook on high for 2½ hours, or until the cheesecake is set around the edges yet soft and jiggly in the center. Protecting your hands with oven mitts, carefully remove the pan from the slow cooker and let cool slightly on a rack. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight. Run a knife around the edge of the cheesecake. Remove the sides of the pan. Cut into wedges and serve.
The Mediterranean Slow Cooker
By Alan Richardson and Michele Scicolone