I don’t know what it is about this time of year-maybe the gray skies, constant cold, or light snow flurries, but every January I get a craving for something tropical. Whether it’s exotic fruit, a pina colada, or recipes with abundant coconut, I’m making it. I also crave things that are not so good for me. Like this cheesecake, for example. Now, I am sure that you could substitute low fat cream cheese, omit some of the sugar, skip the chocolate ganache-but, when I make a cheesecake (which is a rare thing), I go all the way.
I’ve been dying to try a candy bar-themed recipe for the longest time. I’ve got a whole slew of them bookmarked and ready to go. And, maybe it was the Girl Scout cookie order I just placed (in which I ordered my absolute favorite, the Samoa) that triggered my intense need for a chocolate/coconut combo. Whatever it was, I loved the idea of taking an Almond Joy (one of my childhood favorites-right down to the blue packaging.) and melding it into a cheesecake form. Talk about the best of both worlds.
I have to admit, when I make cheesecake, I usually get some of those inevitable cracks. The good thing about this recipe? The chocolate ganache creates a smooth covering which hides any of those pesky cracks and makes for a really appealing look. I’ll let you imagine how it tasted. Not only does the crust have coconut in it, but the cheesecake itself has toasted coconuts and almonds mixed it. This is not for the faint-hearted, my friends.
Almond Joy Cheesecake
Servings: depends on how many slices you make!
For the crust:
1 and 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (I used cinnamon-flavored. Weird, I know, but it totally worked and saved me a trip to the store)
1 and 1/2 cups sweetened flaked coconut, toasted
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
For the filling:
4 8-ounce packages of cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
4 large eggs
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut, toasted
1 tablespoon coconut extract
1 cup sliced almonds, toasted
For the glaze:
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Whole roasted almonds, toasted coconut, whipped cream, for garnish
1. For the crust: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Prepare your springform pan by wrapping it with aluminum foil to allow for extra three inches or so of foil to project above the sides. (This will help later when you need to grab the pan.)
3. In a food processor, pulse the graham crackers, almonds, coconut, and sugar to a fine crumb.
4. With the machine running, slowly add the melted butter and pulse until it resembles moist sand.
5. Press the mixture into the bottom and 1-inch up the sides of the pan.
6. Bake the crust for about 12 minutes, or until set and lightly browned.
7. Remove from the oven and let cool.
8. Readjust oven temperature to 325 degrees.
9. For the filling: In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and sugar until smooth.
10. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
11. Add the coconut and coconut extract.
12. Stop the mixer, and gently fold in the toasted almonds with a spatula until well combined.
13. Transfer the filling to the cooled crust and bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes (until the crust is puffy and lightly browned).
14. Remove the cheesecake from the oven and let cool completely on a wire rack.
15. For the chocolate glaze: Combine the chocolate chips, cream, and vanilla in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring frequently until smooth.
16. Remove the pan from the heat and let cool to room temperature (this took about 10 minutes for me).
17. Pour the glaze over the cheesecake (which is still in the springform pan) and spread evenly.
18. Chill the cheesecake overnight or until firm and set.
19. When ready to serve, run a knife around the perimeter of the pan to loosen the cake. Release the pan sides and serve.
Source: Bon Appétit, February 1998.