Kris F. of Albany, Oregon, invented this flavorful cheesecake one day after bringing home a bag of hazelnuts from Oregon's Willamette Valley. "Basically, it was just a happy accident," says Kris. "But to back up the story a little, my mom makes great pies. I've always been a little intimidated by piecrust, so my specialty became cheesecakes." If this creamy, sweet, spicy dessert is Kris's excuse for a pumpkin pie, we certainly won't complain.
Heat the oven to 325 degrees. In a small bowl, combine the crust ingredients and mix well. Press the mixture into the bottom and a half inch up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Bake the crust for 10 minutes, then remove it from the oven and set aside. Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees.
In a large bowl, blend the cream cheese, sugar, flour, and pumpkin-pie spice with an electric mixer on low speed (at low speed, less air will get into the batter and the cheesecake will be less likely to crack while baking). Add the pumpkin and eggs and beat until well combined. Stir in the white chocolate. Pour the filling into the crust-lined pan, then sprinkle on the chopped hazelnuts.
Bake at 300 degrees for 1 hour. Then turn off the heat and leave the cheesecake in the oven with the door closed for another 30 minutes or longer until set. Remove the cheesecake from the oven and chill. Makes one 9-inch cheesecake.