Thursday, March 15, 2007

Hay Hay It's Donna Day, The Tropical Cheesecake Way!

My all time favorite fruit in the world is passion fruit. In Kenya I could buy a 2 kilo bag of fresh passion fruit for about 80 KSH, which is roughly the equivalent of $1 at the time. Today, in Rochester, I have to pay $2.50 for one single solitary piece of passion fruit. This makes me very, very sad, as I could sit down and eat 8 passion fruits for breakfast (but obviously I don't do that, as that breakfast would cost me $20- expensive!). The alternative to fresh (and expensive) passion fruit, when making dessert, is frozen passion fruit puree. So puree it is.
The other favorite flavor of mine is coconut! I love coconut. Yum, yum yum coconut. I like coconut in all forms, fresh out of the shell, in a drink, dessert, curry, soup, shredded, dried, sweetened, I've even had coconut deep fat fried (I feel like the shrimp guy from Forrest Gump). I remember when I was a kid, as a family we would go on vacation to Mombasa, and when you arrived at wherever you were staying, you would be greeted with a coconut drink, meaning they would drill 3 holes in the top of a new coconut put a straw in it and enjoy. The actual water in a coconut is a bit bland to me, but not too bad. And when you sit by the pool, staring at the beautiful, white sandy beach, somebody will climb a tall coconut palm with a machete to hack down the ripe coconuts. Watch out for falling coconuts!
Anyways, when I saw the Hay Hay It's Donna Day! theme of cheesecake hosted by Culinary Concoctions by Peabody, I said 'self, you should participate'. And here it is. This cheesecake is a creation that I played around with, and I got some of my inspiration from

Passion & Coconut Tropical Cheesecake

To prepare the pan:

Using the bottom of a 10 inch springform pan, trace an outline of it onto parchment paper and then cut out the parchment paper circle. Assemble the springform pan back together. Grease the bottom and sides of pan, then lay parchment round on the bottom and grease the parchment also.

Cashew Crust

In a food processor grind until a coarse meal:
1 cup salted, roasted cashews
¼ cup packed brown sugar

Pour cashew mixture into a bowl and add:
¾ cup flour
¼ tsp cinnamon

Cut/stir in until all the butter is incorporated and mixture is coarse and sandy:
6 Tbl butter, softened, almost melted

Stir to combine:
1 egg yolk

Preheat oven to 325°F. Press crust into your pan, over the bottom and up the sides as possible (about a ½ inch up the sides), and then pierce with a fork. Bake for about 15-20 minutes, till golden brown. Let crust cool. Once cool, wrap the outside of the pan with a layer of tin foil in order to make sure the filling does not leak out and make a mess in your oven.

Coconut Filling

In a large mixing bowl, beat together:
2 8-oz packages of low-fat cream cheese or Neufchatel cheese
2/3 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract

Then add:
1 15-oz container of part skim ricotta cheese (drained in a cheesecloth lined sieve over a bowl for 5 hours, or overnight, then once all liquid is removed, press cheese through a sieve to help to reduce the graininess)
1/3 cup low fat sour cream
1/3 cup coconut milk
¼ cup rum (preferably a nice golden brown rum- not white rum)
1 ½ Tbl coconut rum
2 Tbl flour
1 ½ Tbl cornstarch

Beat in, one at a time:
5 eggs and the egg white leftover from the crust

Fold in:
½ cup toasted coconut (I use a combination of sweetened shredded coconut and unsweetened desiccated coconut)

Pour filling into the prepared, cooled crust.
Sprinkle over the top:
¼ cup toasted coconut (sweetened, shredded kind)

Bake cake at 300°F for 1 1/2 hour. At this point your cake should be a little bit wobbly in the very middle, but definitely set on the sides. Turn the oven off and let the cake remain undisturbed in the oven (that is off) for 8 hours or overnight. Once this resting period is over, cover and refrigerate cake.

Passion Fruit Sauce

In a small sauce pan combine:
2 cup frozen passion fruit puree, thawed (I use Goya brand)
¾ cup sugar

Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently, and simmer for about 15 minutes or until the sauce is nice, thick, and syrupy.

Stir in:
1 Tbl rum (the golden brown kind)

If you happen to have fresh passion fruit on hand, you can stir the seeds/pulp of one or two fruit into the sauce if you like.

Allow sauce to cool. Cover and refrigerate.

To Serve:

Loosen the sides of the chilled cheesecake from the pan with a knife. Remove sides of the springform pan from the cheesecake. Gently use a spatula to lift or slide the cake on the parchment paper off of the springform pan bottom and slide the cake onto a serving plate. Drizzle passion fruit sauce over cake. Serve cake with the bowl of extra passion fruit sauce for your guests to add to their own dessert.

Enjoy! Cake, if covered well, can last for a few days or so in the fridge (provided that nobody gobbles it down late at night).


Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

That cheesecake looks delicious, wow! It also presents very well...

Susan in Italy said...

Yeah, your presentation is killer! Gorgeous! Isn't it a shame about missing your favorite foods when you move abroad? The good thing is that you can (hopefully) discover new ones.

ServesYouRight said...

OMG that looks fabulous!! And did you say Rochester! Delighted to bump into a fellow-foodie online :-) Passionfruit cheesecake - No wonder it feels like spring has arrived :-D


Brilynn said...

THat is an absolutely delicious combination of flavours!

dagmar said...

OMG what a wonderful looking cheesecake! It must taste divine!

Maria said...

Thank you, that makes me so happy!

Thanks! Yes, it is a shame to miss my favorites, but you are right in that moving abroad always gives one new culinary opprotunities.

Yes it is great to see food lovers here in Rochester!

Thanks, the passion fruit and coconut certainly do make for an exciting party in your mouth!

Thanks, and yes it was heavenly!

Helene said...

This looks delicious. I love the nut crust combined with the passion fruit, which I gobble up like crazy when i can find some. Excellent!

joey said...

Wow! Great flavor combination! Looks great! :)

Barbara said...

ers. This looks fab. Thanks for entering.

Maria said...

Thanks Helene,
Yeah I love to gobble passion fruit too!

Thank you Joey!

Thanks Barbara!

SHAM4Islam said...

My gosh, this looks so beautiful it makes me want to cry but alas tears might change the taste of the Guava cheesecake i am partaking in. Hey maybe I mysteriously grew up in Kenya too and not Guyana. I too like coconut in all forms and even demanded to have coconut water to drink during delivery of my LO instead of regular water. Yup, made sure I packed it before going :). Anyway thanks for this yummy idea.