Hay Donna, do I get a merit badge? Coconut cheesecake (featuring Girl Scout cookie crust)March 5, 2007
Alright… So this is, hopefully, the last of my super-sweet torture devices for my beloved pregnant wife. In fact, my wife, who cannot eat sweets until our son is born, gave me the OK and was even my prime consultant on this recipe. The brilliant crust was all her concept…. but I’m getting ahead of myself.
This recipe was built on the confluence of inspiration and necessity. Last week, my wife came home with boxes of Girl Scout cookies. She’d ordered them before the doctor issued his ban on sweets. Normally, an excess of Girl Scout cookies wouldn’t be such a bad thing — heck, it really wasn’t a bad thing, except that they were now my Girl Scout cookies. Sure, I like Girl Scout cookies as much as the next guy — but I can’t go through more than a few boxes without starting to feel guilt and pressure (from my belt).
So my wife suggested that I make something with them. A pie crust perhaps? Some other sort of dessert? At first, I scoffed at the idea. (I imagine there is already a special merit badge out there for the Girl Scout who comes up with the most creative way to use the cookies. Picture some 12-year-old earning her stripes by building a thin mint fallout shelter somewhere in the mountains. How could I compete? And, more important, would I get a badge?) But my mindset shifted when it became clear that I need to get rid of these cookies.
Then I discovered that this month’s Hay Hay It’s Donna Day, being hosted by Culinary Concoctions by Peabody, was cheesecake. This, combined with a dinner party we had this weekend, created a compelling purpose for these cookies: I would feed the masses with a beautiful and tropical cheesecake.
So, once again, this isn’t really a torture device for my long-suffering wife. I mean, it was her idea after all. Wasn’t it?
Finally, I want to ask a technical question of you fellow cheescake lovers. I am using a water bath for my cheesecake. I’ve always preferred this method, because I think the texture is better and believe that having an uncracked top is always a goal. But I’m curious what you do.
… So, to water bath or not to water bath?
Coconut Cheese Cake
Yield: 12 servings
Time: 2 1/2 hours cooking, 3+ hours chilling
1 1/2 sleeves Girl Scout Trefoils or 7 oz. Shortbread Cookies
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 tsp. salt
4 tbsp. butter (melted)
One 14 oz. can coconut milk
32 oz. cream cheese (4 packages) (room temperature)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup shredded coconut (ground)
6 eggs (room temperature)
Juice of 3 limes
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. salt
1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. In a food processor, combine the cookies, the sugar, the salt and the shredded coconut. Pulse together until the cookies are broken up completely and are roughly the texture and appearance of wet sand. It should not be overpulsed, as when making a flour, but should have some gravel sized pieces. Transfer to a bowl and then add the butter. Mix well.
3. Transfer the crust mixture to a 9’’ springform pan. Spread the crust evenly over the base of the pan. Using a heavy, flat-bottomed object — such as a ramekin — begin to tamp down the crust. You want to compress it, but not crush it.
4. Once it is even and pressed, place in the oven to bake for 15 minutes or until lightly brown and fragrant. Remove from the oven and let cool for 15 min.
5. Set about 3 quarts of water to boil on the stove, and preheat the oven to 325F.
6. In a food processor, add the shredded coconut for the filling. Pulse the shredded coconut until finely ground. Once done, set aside for later use.
7. In a stand mixer, add the cream cheese and sugar. Mix at medium low speed for about 3 min. The texture should change significantly. It should begin to lighten and look more the consistency of whipped cream.
NOTE: You want to scrape the sides regularly as you go. It is important to do so throughout the process. This will ensure no lumps and the filling comes together completely.
8. While the mixer is on low speed, add the eggs to the mixture one at a time, waiting for each egg to be integrated completely before adding the next one. Once all eggs are added, add the coconut milk, vanilla and salt and mix. Finally, add the shredded coconut and mix once.
9. Time to prepare to bake. Wrap the base of your spring form pan in heavy duty aluminum foil. This will minimize any potential leakage. Pour the filling into the cake pan. Shake and rotate the pan lightly to bring out any air bubbles and to make sure it’s even.
10. Into the bath! Place the cake pan inside of a roasting pan. Place the roasting pan inside the oven. Add the boiling water to the roasting pan. It should come about midway up the sides of the cake tin. If not enough water, you can add hot tap water. You want to minimize the amount of hot splashing water, so follow these steps to avoid big problems.
11. Bake for 90 min. or until the center of the cheesecake measures 150F. After the 90 min. is complete, shut off the heat of your oven and leave the door cracked for 5 min. Close the door and let sit for 30 min. Remove the cake pan from the water. The water should still be hot, so just leave it alone until completely cool.
12. Let your cheesecake sit on the counter for 15 min. before covering with foil and placing in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours. If you do not let it rest in the refrigerator, the cake will come apart. The structure of the cake depends on this time. Three hours is fine, but longer is even better.
12. Once firm, cut along the outside of the cake before removing the sleeve of the springform pan. Slice the cake, and garnish with more coconut. Enjoy!