Joanne MacDonald: mom of four, Kentville, N.S., 3rd place, Holiday Cookie Contest. Twelve years ago, Joanne MacDonald started preparing baskets of homemade treats for everyone on her massive Christmas list. One by one, the lucky recipients returned their empty baskets in hopes of having them filled again. Joanne obliged, and a highly anticipated holiday tradition was born. This year, Joanne’s baskets will include her award-winning Chocolate Hazelnut Cheesecake Bars, whose recipe she painstakingly created and tested especially for Chatelaine’s Holiday Cookie Contest.
Chocolate Hazelnut Cheesecake Bars
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar
- 1/4 cup sliced hazelnuts or almonds
- 1/2 cup cold unsalted butter , cut into cubes
- 600 g good-quality dark or milk chocolate
- 250-g pkg cream cheese , at room temperature
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter , melted
- 1/2 cup icing sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 cup sliced hazelnuts or almonds
- 1/4 cup chopped red or green glacé cherries , optional
- Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Lightly spray a 9×13-in. (3-L) baking dish with oil. In a food processor, whirl flour with brown sugar and 1/4 cup (50 mL) nuts just until nuts are ground. Add butter. Pulse until mixture looks crumbly. Press firmly onto bottom of prepared dish. Bake in centre of oven until crust turns light golden around edges, 12 to 15 min. Remove to a wire rack to cool completely, about 1 hour.
- When crust is almost cool, start preparing topping. Coarsely chop chocolate. Place in a bowl and microwave on medium until almost melted, 3 to 4 min, stirring halfway through. Then stir until completely melted.
- In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer on medium, beat cheese until smooth. Then beat in butter, icing sugar, chocolate and vanilla until evenly mixed. Using a spoon, stir in 2/3 cup (150 mL) hazelnuts until evenly distributed.
- Scrape topping onto cooled crust, then evenly spread out. Scatter remaining 1/3 cup (75 mL) hazelnuts and glacé cherries overtop. Refrigerate until firm enough to cut, at least 2 hours but preferably overnight. Cut into 32 bars. If making ahead, cover and refrigerate up to 1 week or freeze up to 2 months.
Nutrition (per serving)
- 3 g,
- 20 g,
- 15 g,
- 57 mg.