Hazelnut Praline Cheesecake

Course : Cheesecakes
Serves: 12
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1/4 cup amaretti cookie crumbs --about 28 small cookies
1/2 cup hazelnuts
1/2 cup sugar -- plus
2 tablespoons sugar -- divided
1/4 cup water
2 1/2 cups cottage cheese, 1% fat
12 ounces light cream cheese
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
3 tablespoons Frangelico
6 large egg whites -- room temperature
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

Preparation / Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Coat the bottom of a 10-inch springform pan with cooking spray; sprinkle with cookie crumbs and set aside. Place hazelnuts on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Turn nuts out onto a towel; roll up towel and rub off skins. Place hazelnuts in a blender container; cover and process until finely chopped. Combine 1/2 cup sugar and water in a small saucepan; place over medium heat. Caramelize by stirring often until sugar melts and is golden, about 12 minutes. Stir in hazelnuts. Rapidly spread mixture onto a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Cool completely. Break into small pieces; place in a blender container. Cover and process until finely ground; set aside. Position knife blade in food processor bowl; add cottage cheese and cream cheese, and process until smooth. Add brown sugar, Frangelico and 4 egg whites; process just until smooth. Pour into a large bowl. Stir in hazelnut mixture, reserving 1/4 cup. Beat remaining 2 egg whites and cream of tartar at high speed until foamy. Gradually add remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form. Gently stir 1/4 of egg whites into cheese mixture; gently fold in remaining egg whites. Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 35 minutes, or until almost set. Remove from oven and cool for 15 minutes. Cover and chill for at least 8 hours; top with reserved hazelnut mixture.

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