If you like pina coladas and gettin’ caught in the rain, then this is the dessert for you. Even if you don’t, this is still the dessert for you.
What makes this coconut cheesecake different from the other recipes out there, is it uses a coconut puree. (Don’t worry. You make it with shredded coconut and water. You don’t need to hunt for some obscure and expensive ingredient. It’s OK to keep reading.)
I took a cheesecake class at the local culinary school which took my cheesecakes to another level. One of the cakes the teacher made was flavored with tea and pear puree. Sounds strange but it was one of the best things I have ever put in my mouth.
It stopped me in my tracks and I don’t think a food ever had that effect on me. I remember my baking partner asking me how long our cake had been chilling and responding that I just couldn’t care about anything while I was eating this cake.
Clearly, I was not the best partner that day but it is a year and a half later and she’s kept me. So I must be doing something right.
So after I made my pumpkin cheesecake, which was truly the best thing I ever made (picture my mother hounding all our relatives to taste a bite), it started to dawn on me that the best cheesecakes were made with a fruit puree.
But why? And how come there are so few recipes with it? Without doing a whole chemical analysis, I reason it is because fruit purees add creaminess without making the cake heavy.
I mean think about it, you add sour cream to make the texture velvety but the resulting cake is very, very dense and rich.
As to why there are so few recipes with fruit purees out there…beats me. But as often as I can, mine are certainly going to have this magical ingredient.
Yields One 9-inch cheesecake
1 1/2 cups shredded coconut
1 cup water
6 ounces (1 1/2 cups) macadamia nuts
3/4 cup shredded coconut, unsweetened
1/2 cup light brown sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Pinch of salt if using unsalted nuts
Adapted from Emeril Lagasse’s Pumpkin Cheesecake
3 8 -ounce packages cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup coconut milk
3 tablespoons light rum
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon coconut extract
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Adapted from Anne Burrell’s Vanilla Pineapple Compote
1 cup water
1 1/2 cups white rum
1 cup light brown granulated sugar
2 vanilla beans, split, seeds scraped and reserved
1 1/2 tablespoons of lemon juice (1/2 lemon)
1 ripe pineapple
- Blend in a food processor or blender the shredded coconut with the water until they become a thick liquid, about 20-25 minutes. Tip: BE CAREFUL NOT TO OVERHEAT YOUR FOOD PROCESSOR OR BLENDER. Let the motor cool between batches.
- Allow the coconut puree to sit for 6-12 hours at room temperature. Soaking causes the coconut to expand. Once it is finished expanding, refrigerate to avoid spoilage.
- Position the rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9" springform pan. Tip: View How to Line a Round Layer Pan with Parchment Paper.
- Spread the macadamia nuts onto a cookie sheet in a single layer and roast for 5 minutes.
- Add the coconut to the sheet and roast another 5 minutes.
- Allow the nuts and coconut to cool (10 to 15 minutes) and then grind them up in a food processor. Tip: If you don’t have a food processor, you can put the everything into a plastic storage bag, unsealed, and pound it with a hammer. Please do this over a cutting board to avoid damaging your counter.
- Combine the finely chopped macadamia nuts and shredded coconut with the brown sugar and melted butter in a small bowl and mix until thoroughly combined.
- Press the mixture into the bottom of the springform pan.
- Bake for 18 minutes.
- Cool to room temperature before adding filling, about 30-45 minutes.
- Position the rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 325F degrees.
- Fill a 9 x 13-inch pan with about 1 inch of hot water and place it into oven. Tip: I used my roasting pan.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese on medium speed until smooth, scraping side and bottom of bowl frequently to ensure that no lumps remain. Tip: DO NOT overbeat cheesecake batter; beating at a lower speed guarantees a denser, smoother cheesecake!
- Turn the mixer down to low speed. Add the sugar and beat just until incorporated. Scrape down the bowl.
- Add the eggs and yolks. Beat on low speed until combined. Scrape down the bowl.
- Switch to the whisk attachment. Add the coconut puree. Beat on low speed until combined and there are no lumps. Scrape down the bowl.
- Add the coconut milk, rum, vanilla extract and coconut extract. Beat on low speed until combined. Scrape down the bowl.
- Add the cornstarch. Beat on low speed until the cornstarch disappears. Scrape down the bowl if necessary.
- Place the springform pan (now with a cooled, parbaked crust) into a large oven bag or crock pot liner. Push down the sides of the bag so the top of pan is completely open. Use foil to hold the bag in place if necessary. Tip: I used a Reynold’s Large Oven Bag and it fit perfectly. Pour the batter over the crust in prepared pan.
- Place the cheesecake into the “water bath” in the oven. Check the level of hot water; it should come halfway up the side of the cheesecake pan. Add more water if necessary, but do not let the pan float.
- Bake for 60 to 75 minutes or until you see a three-inch wobbly spot in the middle of the cheesecake.
- When the cheesecake is done, remove from the oven by taking the cheesecake pan out of the water bath, and setting it aside on a cooling rack. Remove the bag and any aluminum foil. Run a small knife around sides of cake and leave it to cool completely. DO NOT remove the outer ring.
- Once, the cheesecake has cooled, cover the pan with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours to overnight.
- To serve, remove the outer ring and spoon the pineapple compote over the whole cake or individual slices.
- Remove the plastic wrap and the outer ring.
- Wrap the cheesecake in plastic wrap and place into a freezer bag.
- Freeze for up to 3 months.
- Defrost completely before serving Tip: DO NOT cover the cake with compote before freezing. Add it after you defrost it.
- Remove the top, skin and core from the pineapple and chop it into chunks.
- Combine the sugar, water, rum, vanilla beans and lemon juice in a large saucepan or saute pan.
- Stir to combine and bring to a boil. Tip: Make sure all the sugar has dissolved.
- Add the pineapple and stir until well mixed. Turn down the heat to a simmer and cook until the pineapple is soft and the liquid has reduced to a syrup.
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