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Almond Cream Cheese Cake

1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
2 1/2 pounds cream cheese, softened
1 cup + 2 T sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
3 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Butter a 9inch round cake pan and
line the bottom and sides with almonds.

With an electric mixer at low speed, beat cream cheese until soft
and smooth. With machine running, add sugar, cinnamon, lemon zest,
and juice, beating well between additions. Add eggs, one at a time,
beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. To ensure even
mixing, be sure to scrape down the bowl between additions. Fold in
the chopped chocolate evenly. Pour batter into lined cake pan. Tap
it 3 or 4 times on the counter to eliminate air pockets. Place
inside a larger pan and pour in boiling water until it rises halfway
up the sides of the cake pan. Bake about 45 minutes, until center
feels firm when pressed.

Set aside to cool on a rack, then refrigerate 2 to 3 hours. To
unmold, place pan over a low burner about 2 minutes. Invert onto
a platter, then invert again (the nuts should be on the bottom).
The cake can be kept in the refrigerator up to 2 days. At least
two or up to eight hours before serving, top with the melted
chocolate: Dip your fingers or a fork into the melted chocolate
and drizzle over the center in a freeform pattern. Refrigerate
until serving time.


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