Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Coconut Almond Cheesecake

I was supposed to finish killing you with sweetness yesterday and this cheesecake was it. But yesterday I had a little girl with a very high fever, so I didn't get to kill anyone with sweetness. Lucky for you, she's mostly better and the sweetness killing can happen today.  

The inspiration for this recipe came from a cheesecake called Almond Joy Cheesecake. That was an apt name. You can put some coconut and chopped almonds into the creamy cheesecake as well as on top or just leave it as topping. I left it as topping because I served it at book club and wanted people to be able to pick out any nuts or coconut if they didn't like those things (my picky children have ruined me), but truthfully I think it would have been fan-flibbing-tastic on the inside too.

Cheesecake is a a scary food to make. And it does take some forethought as it needs time to cool. However, I think that most of us are afraid of it because most of us have had icky, chalky, bland cheesecake before. But cheesecake is actually pretty simple--cream cheese, sugar, eggs, flavor of some sort, and that's it. You just beat this stuff together. The biggest secret I think, to good cheesecake is that you not overcook it. And here I must tell you that this is an act of faith. Because when cheesecake is done somewhere between 165 and 180 degrees, that sugar mamma is still jigggggly. Don't doubt. Don't leave it in till the jiggle is gone. Take it out when it's between 165 and 180 degrees at the center. Do it. It's helpful to have an instant read thermometer, but if you don't, know that the center 2-4 inches (sometimes even a little more) is still going to jiggle. The edges should be set, but not firm as a rock.

Coconut Almond Cheesecake
adapted from Creations by Kara
Makes 1 cheesecake
Prep time: 25 minutes
Cook time: 75-85 minutes
Cool time: 4-6 hours, or overnight
Cost: $8.00 (not cheap, but still a steal when you consider that one slice at Cheesecake Factory will cost you this, and that even a cheap frozen cheesecake from Walmart is significantly more)
Meh, cheesecake isn't cheap, but it doesn't have to break the bank. I always look for cream cheese on sale. It freezes well, especially if you'll be using it to cook with, not spread on things. I always try to get mine for less than $1.
cream cheese: 4.00, generic oreos: 1.00, sugar: .05, butter: .15, more sugar: .30, eggs: .40, extracts: .50, coconut: .30, almonds: .50, cream: .30, chocolate chips: .50


1 1/2 C crushed Oreos (or generic version) crumbs--this is about 20 cookies
1/2 C sweetened flaked coconut
1/4 C sugar
1/4 C melted butter

For the cheesecake:

4 8-oz. packages cream cheese
1 1/2 C sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp almond extract
1/2 coconut extract
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
pinch salt
1/2 C sweetened coconut flakes (optional)
1/2 C chopped almonds (optional)

For the topping:

6 Tbsp cream
1/2 C semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 tsp vanilla

1/2 C toasted coconut
1/2 C chopped almonds

Note: My almonds were covered in a sweet chocolate powder covering. I found them at Aldi. They seemed perfect. But they're not necessary. Regular almonds would be delicious too.

For the crust: 

Place cookies in a food processor and crush them. Add other ingredients and blend. If you don't have a food processor a blender will work. If you don't have a blender, you can put the cookies in a large Ziploc bag and use a rolling pin to crush them.

Press the mixture into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan. (Note: I used a round of parchment paper on the bottom of mine.

Bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees.

For the cheesecake: 

Blend cream cheese. Add sugar and blend. Add eggs and blend. Add extracts and blend. Add pinch salt. If using add coconut flakes and chopped almonds.

Put this mixture over your crust in the springform pan.

Bake at 325 for 75-85 minutes or until an instant read thermometer reads between 165 and 180 (165 will be creamier and looser than if you cook a little longer). If you don't have a thermometer, the center 2-4 inches will JIGGLE. (Note: I did use a water bath and you can too if you wish--put the cheesecake in a roasting pan that has been filled with a few inches of HOT water. However, I think your cheesecake would cook fine even without this. Do know that it might cook faster so you might want to check it at 60 or 65 minutes.)

Cool your cheesecake. Overnight is ideal, but you need at least 4-6 hours.

When you're ready to top it, run a knife along the edge and then release the sprinform part of your pan.

When it's cool, make the chocolate ganache by  combining the cream, chocolate chips and vanilla. I do this in the microwave in 30 second intervals, mixing in between. When it's silky, pour it over the cheesecake.

Then put on toasted coconut (or regular coconut if you're too lazy to put it under the broiler for 2 minutes and toast it--no judgment here; you just made a cheesecake by golly). And add the almonds. I mixed mine together and thought it was pretty.

Allow your ganache to set for an hour (if you can; if you're in a rush, life will still go on).


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