Donna Hay’s Cheesecake with Hazelnut Crumble

Donna Hay Cheesecake 2Ever since the beginning of my exams I had been dreaming of this day. A full day where I would be free to cook and bake to my heart’s content. I set this day aside and planned a perfect 3 course dinner for m

y parents. First course – Salad with japanese sesame dressing. Main course – Baked Lamb chops topped with a rosemary, pine nut, bread crumb mixture and roasted whole potatoes, with a butternut squash puree. Last Course – a beautiful apple galette. So we headed down to the supermarket to shop. (I find shopping in the supermarket more enticing that a shopping mall, wierd huh?)

Butter. Yes. Lamb chops. Yes. Rosemary. Yes. Cream Cheese. Yes. Ohh, what’s that? Ricotta. THEY HAVE RICOTTA ON SALE.

Most of what we buy in supermarkets in HK are imported from other countries and so everything is really expensive. Ricotta has always been quite expensive, but we got lucky and found 2 boxes that were on sale with a 30-40% discount, because they were about to expire. Zoe and I immediately made a decision to ditch the apple galette and use the ricotta to make cheesecake.

Donna Hay Cheesecake 3Cheesecake is definitely one of my all-time favourite desserts. New York cheesecake. Just the thought of it makes my tummy grumble: Smooth, luscious, rich creamy filling with a delicious buttery base. But the problem with New York cheesecake is that I often find it a tad bit too rich for me to finish a whole slice. That is why new york cheesecake may not be suited for everyone esepcially my asian parents whom dislike anything too filling and rich, it was not the best dessert to have when I was making dinner for them.

So after experimenting with the perfect New York cheesecakes for awhile I gave up. They were either too sweet, too rich, or just too creamy. I don’t know if you know but America’s test kitchen’s perfect cheesecake recipe uses about 1kg of cream cheese and almost 6 eggs.  It was good but the cheesecake was way too filling and rich for any of us.

Now a year or two later, I’m starting again on my quest to find the perfect cheesecake recipe again – one that is creamy and not too light but at the same time not too rich that it makes us feel extremely full. I came to a conclusion that maybe using a different type of cheese or a mixtures of cheese would help find an equilibrium between richness and creaminess. So being able to get my hands on ricotta was like a gift from heaven. Now I was able to make cheesecakes that I had wanted to try. I took the opportunity to surf the web for some good cheesecake recipes that used ricotta and I found…this one. Donna Hay’s vanilla and macadamia nut crumble. Sadly I couldn’t get hold of macadamia nuts, so I went for what I had on hand – hazelnuts. Not that I’m really complaining, since hazelnuts are delicious as well. I mean who doesn’t love nutella? (Extremely chocolatey and hazelnutey flavoured spread)

So, we started to make the cheesecake. But the process of making the cheesecake didn’t go as smooth as we expected.

Zoe and I baked it for the given time and temperature and found the center didn’t really set properly. We were panicking so much and concluded to add on the crumble, thinking that the middle could set in the 10 mins that would take the nuts to brown. That was a stupid idea. Eventually we had to bake the cake for almost double the time with a tin foil to cover the nuts to prevent them from burning. We also had to turn up the temperature. As a result of this mistake, the cheesecake didn’t have enough of its time in the fridge, so it wasn’t cold enough to serve. We ate it slightly warm. Although the cheesecake looked amazing (even my dad who wasn’t planning to eat it but after seeing how appealing the cake looked, he changed his mind), but serving it warm was such a Bad idea. Remember note to yourself to never serve cheesecakes warm!

Although it didn’t taste as good as it was eaten warm. We kept it in the fridge overnight for a couple of days. The next time (a couple of days later when it was really really cold) I pulled it out to eat leftovers, it tasted extremely delicious, much better than that night.

Let me describe how it tasted like. It was creamy and slightly rich, but not filling at all. The crumble added a little special something. I do have to say this one has been the best recipe I’ve tried so far. Delish!

In the future, if I can get my hands on more ricotta then I would will make it again and again, but of course making sure the cheesecake is set before sprinkling on the crumble and serving the cheescake warm.

Adapted from Donna Hay Magazine via. Technicolour Kitchen

Ingredients – Makes 1 8-inch Cake


  • 125g Digestive Biscuits
  • 50g Unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 50g Almond Meal


  • 250g Cream Cheese, softened (originally 300g cream cheese)
  • 420g Ricotta Cheese (originally 370g ricotta)
  • 1 cup Caster Sugar (originally 1 1/3 cup)
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature


  • 1/2 cup unsalted Hazelnuts/macadamia nuts
  • 100g Digestive Biscuits
  • 2 tsp Vanilla
  • 1 tbsp Brown Sugar (Originally there was 2 tbsp brown sugar)
  • 50g Unsalted butter, softened
  1. Preheat oven to 150 C.
  2. Put all the ingredients for the base into the food processor. Blitz until crumbly.
  3. Pour into either a buttered 8 inch pan or one that is lined with parchment paper. Press down with a spoon.
  4. Place into fridge, whilst making filling.
  5. Pour all the ingredients for the filling into the food processor. Blitz till smooth.
  6. Pour the filling on top of the prepared crust.
  7. Bake for 2 1/2 – 3 hours at 150 C or until center is set. Spread crumble on top and return to oven for 10 minutes so that it slightly brown.  (the original recipe says to bake the cheesecake at 150C for 1 hour approximately, but our center didn’t set until much after that. We had to crank up the temperature and bake for almost double the time. It may work with a higher temperature for a shorter amount of time, but i’m not sure about this yet.)


Zoe  &  Mia

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