Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Coconut and Chocolate Cheesecake Bars

Experience love at first bite with these elegant and luscious chocolate-coconut cheesecake bars


I haven't posted a new recipe in a loooong time! Sorry, I've been just "busy" with vacation :) 
I spent ten fabulous days in St John US Virgin Island. This was my very first time in the Caribbean ... I know. What's wrong with me?!? I absolutely loved it and can't wait to go back and explore some of the other islands. 
If you follow me on Instagram, you probably saw a few of my pictures from paradise. I should probably write a post about all the amazing places we visited,  and share some more photos with you. 
For now, look at this!

Enough about vacation. I'm back, relaxed and re-energized. And ready to bake!
And what's better than starting with a tropic-inspired crazy-delicious dessert?!? 
A super creamy thick layer of coconut cheesecake with a hint of almond flavor. On top of an easy-to-make chocolate graham cracker crust. All drizzled with melted chocolate and a touch of extra coconut. 
Extraordinary things happen when chocolate and coconut come together. Especially in a refreshing and creamy cheesecake form. 

For the bottom, I wanted a chocolate crust. And because it's hard to find chocolate flavored graham crackers (and chocolate wafer cookies are way more expensive) I added some unsweetened cocoa powder to regular graham crackers, and it worked like magic. Crunchy, buttery and chocolatey. All at the same time!
For the filling, start with your basic cheesecake ingredients, with a touch of almond extract. If you like it, you're going to love it in here! If you don't, just skip it and the cheesecake will still taste delicious.
Beat well all the ingredients... but remember not to whisk too much once you add the eggs. And fold in shredded coconut at the end. Oh-so good!
As usual, the hardest part of the recipe is waiting for the cheesecake to chill in the refrigerator before you can cut in square. Then, and only then, you can neatly cut them in squares and top with an optional (but highly recommended) drizzle of extra chocolate. And enjoy!

INGREDIENTS:

YIELD: 8 inch (20 cm) square dessert cut in 16 small bars (or 9 larger)
    • For the crust
      • 12 graham cracker sheets (6.6 oz, 190 gr)
      • 1/2 cup (40 gr) of unsweetened cocoa powder
      • 1/3 cup (65 gr) of brown sugar
      • 3 oz (85 gr) unsalted butter, melted
      For the filling
      • 16 oz (450 gr) of  cream cheese, at room temperature
      • 1/2 cup (100 gr) of sugar
      • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
      • 1/2 teaspoon of almond extract (optional)
      • 1/2 cup (120 ml) of whipping cream
      • pinch of salt
      • 2 eggs
      • 2 packed cups  (about 5 oz, 140 gr) of shredded coconut
      For the top
      • about 2 oz (60 gr) of semi sweet chocolate chips
      • shredded coconut, to decorate

PREPARATION:

TIME: 20 minutes, plus 1 hour baking and at least 3 hours cooling
    For the crust:
    Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
    Line a  8 inch (20 cm) square pan with parchment paper.
    In a food processor add the graham crackers and pulse until all finely ground.
    Add the cocoa powder, brown sugar and melted butter.
    Pulse until all moist.
    Transfer to the pan and press to the bottom making a layer, as even as you can. You can use a spoon, spatula or bottom of a cup (or measuring cup like I did).
    Bake for 8 minutes while you prepare the filling.

    For the filling:
    In a bowl, beat the cream cheese with the sugar with an electric mixer for a few minutes  until soft and creamy.
    Add the salt, vanilla and almond extract, whipping cream and beat well.
    Add the eggs and beat until incorporated. Make sure not to beat too much or the eggs might create little bubbles of air inside the batter which might make the top of your cheesecake crack when baking.
    Fold in the the shredded coconut.
    Pour the filling over the prepared crust. Level the top if necessary.
    Bake in the lower part of the oven for 55 minutes or until the center is set and the top is golden.
    Open the oven door slightly and let cool inside for about one hour.
    Refrigerate for at least 3 hours or longer before cutting into squares.
    I suggest to cut in 4x4 = 16 small squares.
    Or if you prefer larger serving size, you can always cut in 3x3 = 9 squares.
    To decorate, melt the chocolate chip in a double boiler, or in the microwave.
    Drizzle over the cheesecake bars and top with a little more shredded coconut if you like.
    Let the chocolate set in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes before serving.
    Enjoy :)

     
      

    2 comments:

    1. Replies
      1. Yes, just like any cheesecake. I would freeze after it's cold and cut in pieces but before decorating (so the chocolate on top will look perfect!). Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and decorate (before or after thawing). Just make sure the chocolate on top is set before serving.
        The recommendation is to freeze for no longer than a month - for best quality.
        I hope this help :)

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