Sunday, April 5, 2009

Semi-Annual Cheesecake

When I had roommates, I had a standing offer to make a cheesecake any time they bought enough cream cheese for me to do so. Although the offer was not taken very often, I also started a tradition that guarantees I make at least two cheesecakes per year. On the first Saturdays of April and November, I make a baked cheesecake. I eat the first piece for breakfast the next morning. I frequently have the second piece for lunch and so forth… I also give away pieces of cheesecake, as I really should not eat the whole thing myself.

With only one exception that I can remember, I use the same basic recipe every time. I won’t type it all out here, but it is the Lindy’s Cheesecake recipe from my big Betty Crocker cookbook. It calls for 40 ounces of cream cheese. It also calls for grated lemon and orange peel, but I don’t think I have ever included that. A 9” springform pan is specified, and you should trust the recipe on that. The first few times I made this recipe, I kept having problems with the edges burning. Finally I measured the pan I was using and realized it was too big. I got myself a nine-inch pan and haven’t had any problems since.

I have a couple of tried and true variations on the recipe (cherry-chocolate and turtle), but this time I decided I wanted to try something different. I had a bottle of almond extract on hand and a bag of sweetened shredded coconut, so I picked up a can of crushed pineapple to round it out. I had thought of this combination before, but was nervous about the effect the juiciness of the pineapple would have on the texture of the cheesecake. So, while I prepared the crust (it’s a from-scratch cookie type crust—if you don’t have that cookbook, get it, it’s a great general resource) and the filling, I had half the pineapple from the can sitting in a strainer over a bowl. Every so often I’d press it with a spoon or spatula to encourage more juice to drip out. After I’d finished mixing the cream cheese filling according to the recipe (leaving out the zests), I mixed in some almond extract. I measured out a ¼ teaspoon, tasted, thought it needed some more, and added a little more without measuring. I guess that’s what recipe-writers mean when they say to add something “to taste”. Just before pouring the filling into the pan, I folded in the strained pineapple and about half a cup of coconut, stirring by hand to distribute throughout. The rest of the baking and chilling was according to the recipe.
This morning, I decided a nice crunchy topping would be a good finishing touch. First I toasted some coconut (keeping an eye on it to keep it from burning) and then toasted some sliced almonds.

I arranged the coconut and almonds in circles on top of the chilled cheesecake, then sprinkled brown sugar over it all.
With the oven set to “Broil”, I stuck the cheesecake in to carmelize the sugar. I quickly realized that I shouldn’t have pre-toasted the coconut, as it continued to brown (and burn a little) while broiling. So I pulled it out a little sooner than planned, leaving some of the sugar unmelted.
Even though the coconut and almonds are a little more toasted than planned, it’s still really good cheesecake. The pineapple did not mess up the texture at all and gives subtle flavor, plus a little extra juice when I bite into a bit of fruit. This would probably also be good if coconut extract or (possibly) pineapple extract were used instead of the almond flavoring. Also, I think that next time I want to try this type of topping, I will rub some softened butter into the brown sugar.


Joyce said...

Looks so good!!!!

LuLu Borealis said...

OMG! That looks so good it's making me wish I could just taste it! mmmmmm


Kipik said...

Holly! that does look yumy!