Monday, June 16, 2008


I've mentioned before how much my father absolutely loves key lime pie. He's a key lime pie connoisseur. He's a pretty big fan of cheesecake as well. Rather than go out and get my dad a cheesy father's day gift (no pun intended), I thought it would be great to bake him a key lime cheesecake because you can't go wrong with presenting my father with something dessert oriented.

I've only made a few cheesecakes in my baking career and viewed this one as a true challenge. If made properly, cheesecakes baked from scratch offer such an extreme sense of accomplishment. While they are extremely involved and time consuming, the look on everyones faces when a homemade cheesecake comes out is priceless. The fact that I was able to have my name attached to this one was very self-fulfilling!
I doubled the graham cracker crust because I envisioned a super thick crust that extended all the way up the perimeter of the cheesecake. To me, the crust is definitely the best part of a cheesecake.  Atop the crust I used the creamed coconut part of Dorie's Florida pie recipe and the filling consisted of key lime juice, sweetened condensed milk, lime zest, sour cream and cream cheese..among a few other odds and ends. The filling was so creamy and delicious with a strong, but not overbearing, taste of key lime and the coconut cream added and extra kick. I topped it off with whipped cream and piped mini rosettes around the border. This was truly amazing. My dad was very impressed and it was the talk of the party!
P.S. I had some leftover filling so I made key lime cheesecake bars. I was out of graham crackers at this point so I crushed up Oreos and sprinkled toasted coconut  across the top with a dollop of whipped cream. See for yourself...
1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs, about 10 whole crackers
3 tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted

*I doubled all of the above ingredient to create a thicker crust, which I recommend you do*

Coconut Cream Layer:
1 1/3 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups shredded sweetened coconut

All ingredients should be at room temperature

1 ½ lbs cream cheese
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons grated peel of key lime zest, colored part only
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup sour cream *light sour cream works well also*
½ cup key lime juice (about 8-9 limes), seeds removed *I used Nellie and Joe's key lime juice*
4 large eggs

For the crust:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter together until well mixed. Using a 9inch spring form pan, butter the bottom and sides and gently press crust down to create crust, making it as even as possible.  You can use the bottom of a flat bottomed glass to press the mixture up against the sides. At the very least, press the crust 1/2 inch to 1 inch up the sides. Bake for 10 minutes and cool on wire rack. Once cooled, wrap outside of pan in tin foil to prevent cracking. Turn oven down to 325 degrees.

For the coconut cream layer:
Put the cream and 1 cup of the coconut in a small saucepan and bring it to a boil over medium-low heat, stirring almost constantly. Continue to cook and stir until the cream is reduced by half and the mixture is slightly thickened. Scrape the coconut cream into a bowl and set it aside while you prepare the key lime cheese filling.

For the filling:
Using an electric mixer, on low speed, beat the cream cheese just to soften. Scrape bowl and beaters often throughout the rest of the recipe. Add the sugar in a slow stream, beating on low just until mixed. Add the flour, salt, vanilla, zest and beat on low just to mix. Add the sweetened condensed milk and sour cream. Beat on low just until mixed. With mixer running on low speed, add the lime juice in a slow stream, beating just until mixed. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing each in before adding the next egg. Beat last egg in just until mixed.

Evenly spread the the coconut filling on top of the cooled crust then pour the key lime cheese filling on top. Using a spatula, spread the cheese filling.

Place the foil-wrapped pan into a large roasting pan. Place pans in oven and fill roasting pan with hot water until water is half way up the cheesecake pan. Bake for 1 hour, or until filling is set, but center is still a bit jiggly.

Remove roasting pan from oven carefully. Remove cheesecake pan from roaster water bath and place on wire rack. Run a sharp small knife around the sides of the pan to loosen and keep the cheesecake from cracking as it cools. Cool at room temperature. When cool, remove foil wrapping, wrap in plastic and refrigerate 4 hours or overnight.

To serve, remove from refrigerator. Remove the pan sides. Slide the cheesecake onto a serving plate and bring to room temperature. Garnish with whipped cream and thin lime slices. Serve thin slices of the cheesecake, using a knife which has been run under (or dipped into) hot water, then wiped dry.

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