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Chocolate Rum Espresso Cheesecake

20 amaretti macaroons or 3/4 c graham cracker crumbs
2 1/2 oz (1/2 c) blanched, toasted almonds or hazelnuts
2 tbs sugar
2 oz unsalted butter, melted
4 oz semisweet chocolate

1 lb semi or bittersweet chocolate
1 1/2 c cream
3 tbs dutch process cocoa
3 tbs instant espresso powder (optional)
1 c sugar
1/2 c rum (or 3/4 to 1 c Frangelico or Irish cream)
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 lb cream cheese at room temperature

Adjust a rack one-third up from the bottom of the oven and preheat
the oven to 375 degrees (F).

Process the macaroons in a food processor or blender until they
are about as fine as graham cracker crumbs. Transfer the crumbs
to a mixing bowl and process the nuts and sugar together until
rather fine. Mix the nuts with the macaroon crumbs. Add the melted
butter and stir to moisten the crumbs evenly.

Turn the crumb mixture into the bottom of a 9 inch springform pan.
Spread the crumbs evenly over the bottom of the pan with your
fingertips and then press down firmly to form a compact crust.
Bake for 8 minutes then set aside to cool. When cool, set the pan
in the freezer to chill the crust.

Meanwhile, cut the chocolate into small pieces and place it in the
top of a double broiler over warm water on low heat. Stir frequently
until melted and smooth. Pour the melted chocolate over the chilled
crust and quickly spread it with the bottom of a spoon til it covers
the crust, stopping 1/4 inch away from the edge. Brush melted
butter onto the sides of the pan and return to the freezer.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Cut the chocolate for the filling into small pieces and place them
in the top of a double boiler over warm water on low heat. Let
cook until almost completely melted and then stir until smooth.
Remove from the double boiler and set aside.

Scald 1/2 c of the cream over medium heat. When a skin forms on
top of the cream, strain or sift in the cocoa and espresso powder.
Whisk until smooth and cook for a few minutes, stirring constantly,
until slightly thickened. Stir in the rum and the remaining cream
and set aside.

Beat the cream cheese til it is soft and fluffy, scraping the
beaters once during the process. Add the sugar and beat, scraping
the bowl occasionally, until the mixture is smooth. Add the
chocolate and then the cream mixture while beating the mixture on
low speed. Continue beating until completely smooth, scraping the
bowl occasionally. Add the eggs and beat just til incorporated.

Remove the pan from the freezer and wrap it in two layers of aluminum
foil. Place the pan inside a larger, shallow pan. Pour the filling
into the pan and rotate it gently to level the filling. Place the
pan in the oven. Before closing the door, pour 1/2 to 1 inch of
water into the larger pan.

Bake the cheesecake for one hour (the cake will not be set all the
way but will still move rather liquidly when moved). Turn off the
oven and let the cake stand for an hour in the oven with the door
open slightly.

Remove the cake from the oven and remove the springform pan from
the larger pan. Remove the foil and let the cheesecake sit until
it has cooled to room temperature. Chill the cake, uncovered,
overnight before cutting it.

The cheesecake may be glazed with seedless fruit preserves that
have been melted and then boiled to reduce slightly. Brush the
glaze over the top and sides of the cake. Serve topped with whipped
cream.

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