Toasted Coconut Cheesecake Cups
The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey’s Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.
The recipe was for a standard, plain-jane cheesecake and we were challenged to add our own flavorings. After brainstorming for a while, I decided to try a coconut variation because I’ve been on a coconut kick for the past . . . hm . . . 6 months?
I also decided to veer in a direction I hadn’t gone before and make individual cheesecakes using a muffin tin. This would accomplish three things: prevent a giant cheesecake from sitting in my fridge for a week (and me eating it three times a day), make portioning easier (so I don’t eat too much at a time), and enable me to freeze them (so I don’t eat them all in one day). See a common theme here? I (my thighs) have a hard time having cheesecake around.
My buttons are busting with this one — in a “I’m really proud of myself” way, not a “I devoured all my little cups in an hour.” way. These little cheesecake cups are incredible. I can’t decide what part I like better, the cheesecake or the crust. The crust was sort of an accident. I didn’t have graham crackers, so I started digging around the cupboards and ended up with what you see below. That’s the beauty of cheesecake crusts, though. You can make them from almost any cookie, cracker, or nuts you have on hand.
Yep, filled them to the tippy top of the muffin cups. Cheesecake doesn’t expand like regular cake does. When they were finished baking, they were slightly poofy, but flattened out once they cooled.
I worried that the cheesecake would be to “coconutty” because I used coconut milk, toasted coconut, and coconut extract. It wasn’t at all. It brought out a true coconut flavor instead of an artificial one. It was creamy, smooth, and complimented the crust perfectly. After topping my model cup with more toasted coconut and a couple macadamia nuts, I snapped a few shots, and basically inhaled it. And if it weren’t so hard to get around right now (I sprained my ankle while they were cooling in the oven.) I’d be eating another one.
The sole reason for this photo was to show you the darling vintage plate I scored at Dancing Mooney. Thanks Janell! (No, she did not put me up to this.)
When I found out that the challenge was a cheesecake, I thought, “Oh. Cheesecake.” because I’ve made lots of them and was disappointed that it wasn’t something new. But I was happy for the opportunity to create my own variation because I’d never done that with a cheesecake recipe before. I’d never made them in cups, either, and it opened up a whole new world to explore! (Especially since they came out of the muffin cups still in tact. And presentable.)
Toasted Coconut Cheesecake Cups
For the crust:
1/2 c. finely crushed oatmeal or spice cookies
1 c. finely crushed macadamia nuts
1/2 c. almond meal
1/4 c. shredded coconut
4 T butter, melted
2 T sugar
Filling for 12 muffin cups:
2 8-oz packages of cream cheese, softened
2/3 c. sugar
2/3 c. coconut milk
2 tsp lime juice
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp coconut extract
2/3 c. shredded coconut, toasted (see footnote for instructions)
Filling for an 8 or 9-inch springform pan:
3 8-oz packages of cream cheese, softened
1 c. sugar
1 c. coconut milk
1 T lime juice
1 T vanilla extract
1 tsp coconut extract
1 c. shredded coconut, toasted
Additional toasted coconut and whole macadamia nuts for garnish.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Heat a couple of quarts of water to boiling.
Combine all crust ingredients and place about 2 T of the mixture into 12 well-greased muffin molds. Press crust firmly in the bottom and halfway up the sides. (If using a springform pan, grease or line with parchment, wrap the sides and bottom tightly in aluminum foil, and press the crust the same way as directed above.)
Cream sugar and cream cheese until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Add the eggs, one at time, blending after each addition. Add remaining ingredients and beat until smooth, scraping down the bowl again.
Ladle the batter into the "crusted" muffin cups, filling them all the way to the top. (Or pour batter in the "crusted" springform pan.) Place the muffin (or springform) pan on a rimmed cookie sheet (heavy jelly roll pan works very well), and place in the oven. Pour hot water into the cookie sheet until halfway full.
Bake for 35-40 minutes (55-60 for springform pan) or until the centers are slightly jiggly. Turn oven off and leave the oven door cracked. Allow to cool for about an hour. Remove from oven and continue to cool on the countertop until room temperature. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least four hours.
To remove cheesecake cups, run a knife around the eges and gently pull them out. Sprinkle with toasted coconut and a couple of macadamia nuts. Eat. Swoon.
Makes 12 cups or one 8-9-inch cheesecake.
1. You can substitute the oatmeal cookies or almond meal for graham crackers.
2. Toasting coconut is easy. Just spread some coconut on a baking sheet and put it on the top rack of your oven. Set the broil to low and kept an eye on it. It only takes a few minutes. You have to watch it really closely because once it starts to brown, it goes really fast. I ended up burning half a bag the first time.
adapted wildly from "Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake"