February 16, 2012
I feel so bad that all my recent photos are so unattractively lit. I am doing the best I can with the type of light I get in my house during these winter months, but it really isn’t good enough. I should build myself a lightbox, or just do all my baking or cooking on bright Saturday afternoons. At least I’m somewhat comforted by the fact that we have about 30 more days left of this early darkness.
This tropical cheesecake lets in a little warmth and light into the kitchen though! Even in the dark, cold winter, the cake lets you have a badly-needed taste of the tropics. I made this for my mother’s birthday at the end of January. I wanted to remind everyone that it can’t be winter all the time, and because my parents were heading off in a few days to sunny Mexico, so why not have a preemptive taste of it?
This cheesecake is perfect in every way. Even Soli loved it, claiming it to be one of his favourite cakes, and he is not one of those cheesecake people. The filling uses plenty of cream cheese, and a whole can of coconut cream, not to be confused with coconut milk. Coconut cream is about $4 more expensive, and is a thick, amazingly sweet more condensed version of coconut milk. I could’ve sat down with the can and a spoon and been happy! I didn’t add any coconut to the filling, as I wanted a smoother texture, but I added extra coconut to the crust, and toasted up some more to sprinkle on the top before serving. All in all, the cake wasn’t at all overly coconuty, and it was in fact an understated flavor. I am happy I didn’t use sweetened coconut. The buttery graham cracker crust was heavenly.
The roasted pineapple I made and spooned on top before serving was a perfect touch and shouldn’t be skipped! I got the basic idea from the Bon Appetit: Desserts cookbook, and while some online reviews said this topping was cloyingly sweet, I didn’t find that at all! I did reduce the sugar and not use any rum, so the true sweetness of the pineapple popped out, and it was a juicy, light touch to an otherwise pretty rich dessert. Also, I definitely recommend buying a fresh pineapple and roasting that…don’t try to cheat using the canned ones!
In the end, this was a perfect cheesecake and a great taste of the tropics for a birthday cake in January.
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
2 cups usweetened shredded coconut, toasted
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 pounds cream cheese, room temperature (4 8-0z packages, I used 2 regular and 2 light)
4 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsalted butter melted
1 15oz can cream of coconut (such as Coco Lopez)
1 cup whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Juice of 1 lemon
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Wrap outside of 9 inch diameter springform pan with with foil.
2. For the crust, mix graham cracker crumbs, 1 1/2 cups coconut, 1 tablespoon lemon juice and butter in small bowl. Press mixture onto bottom and up sides of pan.
3. For the filling, beat cream cheese and sugar in large bowl until well blended.
4. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add cream of coconut, cream, vanilla extract and lemon juice and beat until well blended.
5. Pour filling into crust. Bake until puffed and set in center, about 1 hour 25 minutes. Transfer to rack and cool completely. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
6. Cut around pan sides to loosen cake. Remove pan sides.
7. Sprinkle remaining coconut around edge of cake and top each slice with some honey-roasted pineapple.
1 extra-sweet pineapple, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch-thick rounds, cored
1 cup water
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons dark rum (optional; I did not use this)
1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Place pineapple rings on large rimmed baking sheet.
2. Boil remaining ingredients in small saucepan 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Pour syrup over pineapple. Roast pineapple 12 minutes. Turn rings over; roast until tender and syrup thickens, turning rings every 5 minutes, about 20 minutes longer.
4. Cool pineapple on sheet. Cut into 1/3-inch cubes; transfer pineapple and syrup to bowl. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Chill.)