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Marzipan Cheesecake

1/2 cup whole blanched almonds
8 5-by-2 1/2-inch graham crackers
3 tablespoons sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/3 cup packed crumbled marzipan or almond paste
3/4 cup sugar
3 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
5 large eggs

5 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate
1/2 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350 and set oven rack at upper-middle level. Grease a 9 1/2-inch springform pan.

In a shallow baking pan, toast the almonds on the upper-middle oven rack until golden, about 10 minutes. Remove almonds from oven, but leave oven on. Cool almonds completely.

In a food processor, pulse almonds until finely chopped. Transfer to a bowl. Break graham crackers into food processor and grind finely. Stir 1 cup cracker crumbs and sugar into almonds. Melt butter and add to crumb mixture, stirring with a fork until well-combined. Press crumb mixture evenly onto bottom and about 1 inch up the side of the springform pan.

In a food processor, grind together the marzipan and sugar until combined well. Add cream cheese and vanilla and blend well. Add eggs 1 at a time, pulsing just until combined after each addition.

Pour filling into crust and bake in middle of oven about 50 minutes.

Turn off oven and let cheesecake stand in oven for about 10 minutes. Cake will not be set in center, but will set as it cools. Don't worry if the cheesecake cracks; the topping will cover it.

Cool cheesecake in pan on a rack for 1 hour. Run a thin knife around the edge of the pan to loosen cheesecake, but do not remove side of pan. Chill cake, uncovered, at least 4 hours and up to 1 day.

A couple of hours before serving, finely chop the chocolate and set aside. In a small saucepan, bring the cream just to a simmer and remove pan from heat. Add chocolate and stir together until smooth. Carefully pour topping over cake and spread it up to, but not over, the edge. Chill cake, covered, until chocolate is set -- at least 2 hours and up to 1 day. Just before serving, remove side of pan.

Serves 12 to 16.

Gourmet magazine, November 1998

Sunday, February 11, 2001

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