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Coconut cheesecake is a type of cream cheese-based cake flavored with coconut. A rich, dense dessert, coconut cheesecake usually includes a coconut-flavored graham cracker or cookie crust. These cakes may be topped with whipped cream, toasted coconut, or fruit. Although they can occasionally be found commercially, coconut cheesecakes are most often homemade.
Usually, the crust for coconut cheesecake is made from scratch. It normally consists of coconut flavored cookie crumbs or graham cracker crumbs mixed with shredded coconut. Sugar or lemon juice may be included in the crust, but often unsalted butter is the only other ingredient added. The butter is melted and mixed with the other crust components. Then, the crust is pressed into the bottom of a springform pan. Often, it is baked to set and may sometimes be lightly brushed with beaten egg beforehand, though some versions will forgo pre-baking the crust.
Other than cream cheese, coconut is the most important ingredient in a coconut cheesecake filling. Toasted, shredded coconut is often added to achieve a coconut flavor. Additionally, cream of coconut or coconut milk is also added. Many versions will include still more coconut flavor in the form of coconut extract or a coconut flavored alcohol.
Additional ingredients typically include sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract. Other ingredients normally vary among versions. Lemon juice, and sometimes lemon zest, may be added to the filling as well. Occasionally, cornstarch, flour, salt, or butter may be included.
The filling is usually created by first beating the cream cheese, then adding each of the other ingredients one at a time. The coconut elements are normally included last and may either be stirred or beaten into the mixture depending on the version. Once the filling is prepared, it is poured into the crust and the cheesecake can be baked. Often the cake is baked for at least half an hour in a water bath or in a roasting pan filled at least half way with water. After baking, coconut cheesecake is cooled and then chilled before serving.
Coconut cheesecake may also be made with a topping. Toppings are normally also coconut flavored but may include another fruit instead. Heavy whipping cream and powdered sugar, combined with coconut extract, coconut milk, and toasted coconut, is one topping choice. Using a fruit jam mixed with fresh fruit, such as strawberries, is another topping option. Usually toppings are added while the cheesecake is still warm.
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