For the crust:
In a food processor grind the graham crackers until they are broken into a fine powder. Add the butter, chocolate-hazelnut spread, brown sugar, salt and cocoa powder and process until it is all well incorporated. You may have to scrape down the sides of the bowl a few times.
Press the crust evenly into the bottom of an 8- or 9-inch spring form pan. It should come up the sides slightly.
For the strawberry topping:
In a saucepot, add the strawberries, sugar, vanilla bean pod and seeds and 2 tablespoons water. Cook over medium heat until the strawberries are quite soft. Remove the vanilla bean pod and use an immersion blender to puree the fruit. (You can also do this by pouring the strawberries into a regular blender, then return to the pot to finish cooking.)
Sprinkle the gelatin over 2 tablespoons cold water in a small bowl. Allow it to sit for about 1 to 2 minutes.
Transfer the gelatin to the strawberries and gently cook over low heat, whisking just until the gelatin is completely dissolved. Remove from heat. Reserve 3/4 cup of the strawberry mixture for the top layer of the cake.
For the cheesecake:
In a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar on medium-low speed with the paddle attachment until smooth. Add the vanilla extract. Add the strawberry topping, except the 3/4 cup you have reserved for the top layer.
In a separate bowl, whip the heavy cream until medium peaks.
Gently fold the whipped cream into the strawberry cheesecake batter just until it is all combined.
Pour the cheesecake into the prepared pan. Tap the pan gently on the counter to bring any air bubbles to the surface. Let it sit, uncovered, in the refrigerator for about 2 hours or until it is set to the touch.
Once the cheesecake is set, pour the remaining 3/4 cup strawberry topping over it. If the topping has set up in the pot, gently heat it for a minute, just until it is pourable.
Place the cheesecake back into the refrigerator and allow to set, uncovered, for another 30 minutes, or until the topping is set. At this point it is ready to serve or you can cover the cheesecake with plastic and it can sit in the refrigerator for 24 hours.
Before unlocking the spring form pan, run a knife around the edge of the cheesecake to loosen it.
Top with the fresh strawberries.
NotesIn the heat of summer this strawberry cheesecake is absolute perfection. The fresh sweet berries and creamy cheesecake are layered on top of a rich graham cracker crust and none of it has to be baked. Just because it is fast and easy to make doesn't mean it shouldn't also be gorgeous. Pretty enough for a wedding shower, but simple enough for a picnic in the backyard.