Three Cheese Cake
- 3/4 cup hazelnuts
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for pan
- 9 whole graham crackers
- 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
- 5 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- 6 ounces mild and creamy goat cheese (chevre), room temperature
- 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
- 4 teaspoons all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 teaspoons Frangelico, optional
- 4 large eggs, separated
- 5 ounces mascarpone cheese
- 4 teaspoons freshly squeezed orange juice
- 8 navel oranges, peeled, membrane removed, sectioned
- 1 tablespoon lavender-flavored honey, optional
- 1/2 teaspoon dried lavender, optional
- Lavender blossoms, for garnish, optional
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Spread hazelnuts on a baking pan. Bake until golden brown and fragrant, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer nuts to a clean kitchen towel. Rub nuts vigorously, removing loose skins. Set aside to cool.
Reduce temperature to 350 degrees. Butter an 8-inch springform pan. In a small saucepan set over low heat, melt the butter; set aside.
Using a food processor, pulse graham crackers into fine crumbs, yielding about 1 cup crumbs. Place in a medium bowl; add 1/4 cup sugar, and set aside. Place 1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts in the food processor; pulse until fine but not powdery. Add to graham-cracker-crumb mixture. Using a fork, add melted butter; stir to combine. Put crumb mixture in the bottom of pan, and press evenly around the bottom and halfway up the sides, about 1 1/2 inches.
Bake crust until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. Place cream cheese and goat cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low. Add 1/2 cup sugar, orange zest, flour, salt, and Frangelico, if using; mix until combined. Add egg yolks one at a time, mixing after each addition. Add mascarpone cheese and orange juice; mix just until batter is combined and smooth. Transfer batter to a large mixing bowl, and set aside.
Place egg whites in the clean bowl of the electric mixer fitted with the whip attachment. Beat on medium speed until frothy. Increase speed to medium high, and gradually add remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, 1 teaspoon at a time. Continue beating whites until stiff but not dry.
Using a hand whisk, mix one third of the whipped egg whites into the batter. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in remaining whites. Pour batter into the prepared pan.
Bake cheesecake until the top is golden brown and center has barely set, about 60 minutes; the top should be cracked and will sink upon cooling, forming a "bowl." Transfer cheesecake to a wire rack to cool completely. Chill several hours or overnight, then unmold cheesecake.
Combine orange sections, honey, and dried lavender in a medium bowl. Coarsely chop remaining 1/4 cup hazelnuts, and add. Spoon topping into bowl on top of cheesecake. Garnish with lavender blossoms.