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DESSERT RECIPE: Chocolate Almond Cheesecake

1-cup chocolate cookie crumbs
1-cup sliced (flaked) almonds
1/4-cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
4-tbsp plus 1 1/2-cups sugar
10 oz - bittersweet chocolate, chopped,
plus additional melted chocolate for garnish (optional)
2-lb cream cheese, at room temperature
l/2-cup unsweetened cocoa
4-eggs
1/2-cup heavy cream
1-tbsp extract
1 1/2-tsp extract
2-cups sour cream marzipan fruits, optional
Chocolate Almond Cheesecake

Position a rack in the middle of an oven; preheat to 350*F
In a bowl, mix together the cookie crumbs, almonds, butter and 1 tablespoon of the sugar
Press evenly over the bottom of a 10-inch springform pan
Bake until just golden, about 12 minutes
Let cool on a rack
Leave the oven set at 350*F
In the top pan of a double boiler or a heatproof bowl placed over (not touching) simmering water, place the 10 oz (315 g) chocolate
Heat, stirring until melted and smooth; let cool
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer set on low speed, beat together the cream cheese, the 1-1/2 cups sugar and the cocoa until blended, about 3 minutes
Beat in the cooled chocolate
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition
Beat in the cream, vanilla and 1 teaspoon of the almond extract
Pour the chocolate mixture over the cooled crust
Bake until puffy and gently set in the center, about 1 hour
Let cool on a rack until the cake deflates slightly, about 20 minutes
Leave the oven temperature set at 350*F
Meanwhile, in a bowl, stir together the sour cream and the remaining 3 tablespoons sugar and 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Spread over the settled cheesecake
Return to the oven and bake until just set, about 8 minutes
Let cool completely on a rack
If desired, dip fork tines into melted chocolate and wave the fork back and forth over the cheesecake to create a zigzag pattern. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
If you like, just before serving, arrange marzipan fruits around the top of the cake.
Makes one 10-inch cake
Serves 12-16

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