Tuesday, March 27, 2012

coconut almond cheesecake with chocolate ganache party

When it comes to CHEESECAKE, I'm a purist! My favorite is rich, creamy, dense, smooth, New York style cheesecake, occasionally with cherry topping but I love it plain. It's one of my favorite desserts, which is surprising because it's usually not extremely sweet! I just love the subtle tang from the cream cheese and the buttery graham cracker crust. THIS cheesecake is anything but plain & offers everything in a NY style cheesecake PLUS coconut, almonds & chocolate.

I first fell in love with cheesecake as a kid. I remember being about 10 years old & riding my bike to Waltz Market & buying myself a whole Sara Lee frozen cheesecake. Do you remember those cheesecakes, in a disposable pie tin in a box? YUM!

I just received my April/May edition of Taste of Home magazine & was drooling over the cheesecakes on the cover & decided to immediately make one. I'm so glad I did; it's a winner! Everyone who tried it agreed & I hope you do too!
Almond Joy Cheesecake

1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup flaked sweetened coconut
1/3 cup finely chopped almonds
1/3 cup butter, melted

3 packages (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon coconut extract
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup flaked sweetened coconut

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Garnishes, optional
whipped cream
toasted coconut
chopped almonds

1. Place a greased 9 inch springform pan on a double thickness of heavy-duty foil (about 18 inch square. Securely wrap foil around exterior of pan.

2. Crust: In a bowl, combine cracker crumbs, coconut and almonds; stir in butter. Press onto bottom of prepared pan. Bake crust at 350 degrees for 12 minutes. Cool.

3. Filling: In a bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until very smooth. Beat in coconut extract. Add eggs, beat on low just until combined. Fold in coconut. Pour into crust. Place springform pan on a large baking sheet; add 1 inch of boiling water to larger baking sheet.

4. Bake at 325 degrees for 45 - 55 minutes or until center is just set. Mine was perfect at 45 minutes. Remove springform pan from water bath; remove foil. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes; loosen edges of cheesecake from pan with a knife. Cool 1 hour longer. Refrigerate overnight. Unfortunately, I'd say that the overnight refrigeration is a must. The flavor is so much better the next day. In fact, the next time I will make this 2 days in advance.

5. Ganache: Place chocolate chips in a bowl. In a small saucepan, bring cream just to a boil. Pour over chocolate chips; whisk until smooth. Stir in vanilla. Cool to reach spreading consistency, stirring occasionally. (If you have extra ganache, it keeps in the fridge for up to a week & makes a DELICIOUS hot fudge sauce for ice cream. Just reheat it over low heat.)

6. Remove rim from springform pan. Spread chocolate ganache over cheesecake. Refrigerate until set. Garnish as desired. I added chopped almonds to the sides of the cheesecake and topped it with whipped cream & toasted coconut.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

coffee cake muffins with cinnamon streusel party!

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I broke my Sunday morning tradition of making homemade waffles to make this classic recipe. I remember my mom making coffee cake for us all the time when I was growing up. It's a delicious cake with simple ingredients & is perfect for breakfast, brunch or dessert. This one is just like mom used to make except I made it into muffins. If you prefer you can bake it in a 9x13 pan at 375 degrees for 35-40 minutes.

Cinnamon Streusel Topping
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup flour
1/3 cup pecans, finely chopped
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup cold butter, (1/2 stick, cut into pieces)

In small bowl combine 1st four ingredients. Cut in 1/4 cup butter with pastry blender until mixture is crumbly. Set aside.

1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
3 eggs
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla


1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Spray muffin tins for 18 muffins with cooking spray or line with paper baking cups.

2. In large mixing bowl cream brown sugar, butter and eggs. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Add to creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk. Stir in vanilla. Batter will be thick.

3. Spoon half the batter into muffin tins, sprinkle with half the crumb mixture. Add remaining batter and top with remaining crumb mixture.

4. Bake 5 minutes at 400 degrees then decrease temperature to 375 degrees and bake for an additional 12-15 minutes. Cool 5 minutes & remove from pans into cooling rack.

P.S. I didn't bake my muffins in the paper baking cups shown in the first photo. I just like to put them in the papers for serving.
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