Chocolate Almond Cheesecake


All of the classic flavors of chocolate, almond and coconut combine perfectly in this delicious cheesecake, which also happens to be naturally gluten-free!

INGREDIENTS
CHEESECAKE INGREDIENTS:
  • 2 cups almond meal**
  • 6 Tablespoons (1/3 cup) melted butter
  • 3 (8-ounce) bricks neufchatel (low-fat) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup plain or vanilla Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 3 eggs
SAMOA TOPPING INGREDIENTS:
  • chocolate ganache (see ingredients below)
  • 1/2 cup Blue Diamond almonds (I used Blue Diamond Roasted Salted Almonds)
  • 1/2 cup semisweet or dark chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup toasted flaked or shredded coconut
CHOCOLATE GANACHE INGREDIENTS:
  • 6 ounces semisweet or dark chocolate (I used chocolate chips)
  • 1/4 cup almond or 2% dairy milk (I used Blue Diamond Almond Breeze Original Almond Milk)
  • 2 tablespoons butter or coconut oil
INSTRUCTIONS
TO MAKE THE CHEESECAKE:
  1. Preheat oven to 325°F, and grease a 9-inch springform pan. Carefully wrap the outside of the pan in 2 layers of heavy-duty aluminum foil, being sure that there are NO gaps where water could seep through.
  2. Stir together almond meal and melted butter in a large mixing bowl until evenly combined. Press the almond mixture evenly into the bottom of the springform pan. Then place the pan in a large roasting dish (or any pan larger than the springform), and bring a tea kettle or pot of water to boil in preparation for the water bath. Set aside.  (*If you don’t want to place the pan directly in a water bath, you can skip this last step and just place a pan of water on the shelf beneath the cheesecake pan.)
  3. Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese on medium speed for 3 minutes until smooth. Add sugar and beat for an additional minute until well blended. Add Greek yogurt, cocoa powder, vanilla extract and almond extract.  Beat for an additional minute, stopping partway to scrape the bottom of the bowl with a spatula. Add eggs, one at a time, beating on low speed after each addition just until blended, and scraping the bottom of the pan once or twice. Do not overbeat! Pour into crust.
  4. Place the double pans in the oven on a shelf on the bottom third of the oven. Very carefully use a tea kettle (or large measuring cup) to pour the boiling water in the larger pan to form a water bath around the springform, so that it comes up about 1-inch around the springform.
  5. Close the oven door, and bake about 1 hour 15 min, or until center is almost set. (The cake should still jiggle ever so slightly.) Turn oven off, and open oven door slightly. Let cheesecake set in oven about 1 hour. Then remove cheesecake from oven, carefully run a knife around the edges of the cake, and then let cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight. Remove springform rim, and top cheesecake with desired toppings.
  6. Serve, or cover and refrigerate for up to 5 days.
  7. TO MAKE THE TOPPING:
  8. Spread about 2/3 of the chocolate ganache evenly over the top of the cheesecake, once it has been chilled.  Sprinkle evenly with almonds, chocolate chips and toasted coconut.
  9. Add the remaining 1/3 of the chocolate ganache to a piping bag or Ziplock bag (with a tiny bottom corner snipped off), then drizzle it over the top of the cheesecake.  Or, you can also just drizzle it with a fork.
TO MAKE THE CHOCOLATE GANACHE:
  1. Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the chocolate is completely melted.  Remove from heat and let cool for at least 5 minutes before drizzling.  The ganache will thicken as it cools.

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