Monday, October 22, 2012

Pineapple + Coconut Cheesecake


I've decided to take a break from Guyanese recipes to share with you a delicious cheesecake that I have been making for years.  A recipe that was consistently used to bribe my good (tech guy) friend Jeff to help me out with any blog issues I needed assistance with.  I've made it for his birthday, as a thank you gift, and even sometimes as a warning to say, "heads up: next week I'll need you to write some code for the blog."  It worked every time; sweets usually do that to men.  To this day, it is so hard to make this cheesecake without it reminding me of my cunning and mischievous ways (insert evil laugh here). 

This cheesecake has also been a hit at our family gatherings, especially during the holidays when we would all congregate after dinner for a dessert coma.  Its rich and decadent, just like a cheesecake should be, but what puts this cheesecake over the top is the occasional, and rather pleasant, burst of pineapple in your mouth as you take even the smallest bite.  The batter is made with seven simple ingredients: cream cheese, sour cream, sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, lemon zest, and flour.  When combined, and in the right measurements, these ingredients will give you a perfectly tasting cheesecake; mildly tangy and sweet, with a silky smooth texture.  This cheesecake is even delicious plain and served with fresh fruit.  It is also quite versatile in that the batter holds up nicely to heavy additions like crushed pineapple, dulce de leche swirls, or even Oreo cookie pieces.   It is really quick to whip up and if you are using a store-bought crust, which I use most times, then this will really be a breeze to make.  
Surprisingly, people either love or hate cheesecake.  Some feel it is too sweet or too dense, and there are some who have just had a bad experience, like me.  I'll never forget it, it was a plain cheesecake at a diner in Queens, NY and it was so sweet that I could feel the residual sugar in the back of my throat, you know that syrupy feeling you get after eating something really sweet like sorbet?  To make it even worse, it had a rank-y/egg-y aftertaste, that taste never leaves your memory.  Since then, I have tasted many different types of cheesecakes; enough to prove that this is actually a very tasty, decadent, and delicious dessert.  You taste the bad, you taste the good, then you develop your own criteria for what a good cheesecake should and shouldn't taste like. 


A good cheesecake:
1. Should be smooth, not crumbly.
2. Should be creamy, not watery.
3. Should be slightly sweet, not sugary.
4. Should be tangy, tart, or sour, but not acidic.
5. Should never ever, ever have an egg-y aftertaste.

   So are you ready for the recipe?

How 'bout that crust?

You'll need crushed graham crackers to make the crust.  If you'd rather use actual graham crackers, you'll need about 10-11 crackers.  Crush them in a large zip-loc bag or in a food processor. 

Place crushed graham cracker, sugar, melted butter, and cinnamon in a bowl. Mix with a fork until all ingredients are thoroughly combined.

Many people have asked, "how do I get the crust to come up the sides of the cheesecake?" This is a trick my chef taught me when I worked at the restaurant: using a round glass to press against the bottom and around the sides, helps to keep the graham cracker smooth and intact. 


Bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes until edges are golden brown. You will begin to smell the lovely aroma of graham cracker in your kitchen...you can thank me later :) 


OR

If you are pressed for time and just want to use store-bought crust, just make sure to buy the one that says, "2 Extra Servings" otherwise you will have some batter left over if using the standard size. 

You'll need 8oz crushed pineapple.

Drain pineapple, if it is too wet, it will result in the cheesecake becoming soggy once baked. Press down with a spoon to drain excess liquid, set aside.

Cream two 8oz packages of cream cheese with 1/2 cup + 3 tbsp granulated sugar.

Make sure there are no lumps.

Add vanilla, sour cream, and lemon zest, blend on low.

Add two eggs, blend on low, we don't want air whipped into the cheesecake, the higher the speed the more air you will add to the batter.  The texture needs to be dense, not fluffy, so low and slow guys :)

After eggs are incorporated, gently mix in flour.

This is a good time to taste the batter...Mmmm!

Stir pineapple in. 

Pour batter into crust. 

Bake at 325 degrees for about 45 minutes.  Center should jiggle slightly when done. If cheesecake cracks, don't worry, you can always put a topping on it.  Besides, its all about taste right? Turn heat off and leave cheesecake to rest for about 10 minutes in oven.  Remove from oven and leave cheesecake to rest for an additional 30-40 minutes to cool slowly. Place in refrigerator for at least 3-4 hours or overnight before topping. 

Oh goodness. 

You can use sweetened coconut flakes if you like, I just happened to have this one in my cupboard and wanted to use it up. 


I forgot to take a photo after I toasted it, oops :x

Grab some thawed Cool Whip topping or use some homemade whipped cream...

Rub desired amount all over top of cheesecake, be generous, sharing is caring folks. 

I have no words for this. 

There's that crust again, just keeps popping up everywhere huh.


This is my cousin Subrina Geer's version: she used this cheesecake recipe and just omitted the pineapple. She topped it with a strawberry glaze and fresh strawberries.  Feel free to email me at innergourmet@gmail.com if you'd like her recipe for the topping.


Pineapple + Coconut Cheesecake 
Serves 8-10


Crust
  • 1 ½ cups crushed graham cracker
  • 6 tbsp melted butter
  • 4 tbsp white granulated sugar
  • Dash of cinnamon
Filling
  • 2 8oz packages cream cheese, room temperature
  • ½ cup plus 3 tbsp white granulated sugar
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp lemon or orange zest
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 8oz crushed pineapple, drained and squeezed
Topping
  • Cool Whip topping, thawed
  • Coconut flakes, toasted
Directions:
  1. Bring eggs and cream cheese to room temperature while you make the crust. 
  2. Mix graham cracker, sugars, and cinnamon together. Add melted butter, stir to combine. 
  3. Press graham cracker mixture into an 8-inch springform pan. Use a round glass to press graham cracker into and around the side of the pan.  
  4. Bake crust for 8-10 minutes at 375 degrees until edges are golden brown, crust will begin to smell fragrant. Remove from oven and set aside to cool. 
  5. Toast coconut in a non-stick pan on low heat until flakes are light brown, set aside. Drain and squeeze pineapple, set aside. 
  6. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees.  Place a shallow pan filled halfway with water in the oven to help create moisture, this will help to keep cheesecake from drying out while baking. 
  7. Cream sugar and cream cheese until smooth and no lumps remain.  Add sour cream, vanilla, and lemon zest, blend to incorporate. 
  8. Add eggs, blend on low speed, add flour. 
  9. Fold pineapple into cream cheese mixture.  Pour filling into crust, bake for 45 minutes at 325 degrees. 
  10. Center of cheesecake should jiggle slightly when shaken. Turn heat off and leave cheesecake to rest for about 10 minutes in oven.  Remove from oven and leave cheesecake to rest for an additional 30-40 minutes to cool slowly. Place in refrigerator for at least 3-4 hours or overnight. 
  11. Top with cool whip or desired topping, sprinkle toasted coconut on top.
  12. Serve and enjoy!

Tips

  • A 9-inch springform pan may be used, but will yield a thinner cheesecake. 
  • If using store-bought crust, be sure to buy the one that says, "2 extra servings" otherwise, you will have left over batter. 
  • Cheesecakes have a tendency to shrink and sink in the middle when cooling, so you will want to use a knife to run along the outside of the crust immediately after the cheesecake is done.  Otherwise as it cools, the outer part of the cheesecake will stick to the pan leaving a circular crack in the center.  This only applies if you are using a springform pan. As you can see, I missed this step, but its nothing that a little cool whip can't cover up :) 

5 comments:

  1. I was never a fan of cheesecake. Every time I would have a bite, it was easy for me to be turned off. Some were either too sweet or too rich that it became easy to loose the simplicity of it.

    When I tried my cousin Alica's cheesecake, I was sold. The combination of the ingredients that were used made a very light, sweet, and simple cheesecake. It is then left up to you, 'the creator of all things sweet', to let your imagination go and make it your own.

    As I found a new love for cheesecake, I can only thank my cousin for creating such an amazing recipe. I encourage everyone to try this recipe, for it may one day be the center of attention on your dinner table.

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  2. I like the *idea* of cheesecakes rather than the actual thing, though I've made cheesecakes so many times for friends. I am not sure what about it that I do not like. I once ate a slice of Bailey's cheesecake and that was very good.

    The crust, that is another part of cheesecake that I do not like - I don't know why (lol) weird huh?

    Having said all of the above, I do find cheesecakes extremely attractive and inviting that's what I love most about them.

    The idea of pineapple in a cheesecake and roasted coconut as a topping may just be the impetus I need to fall in love with cheesecakes? One never knows...

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  3. I tried this recipe last night, since I found it, it has been on my mind, I always found cheese cake to be too rich, this one.. I love! I already shared this recipe with my friend in Argentina and Canada. It is just delicious!

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  4. I made this recipe for Easter Dinner yesterday! It was delicious!

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  5. gal! this looks like the bomb diggety

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