Coconut and Cherry Cheesecake

White chocolate, coconut, cherry, and nutmeg – what’s not to like? They’re a tried-n-tested combination which works fantastically well. This was a creamily rich delight which continued my recent white chocolate theme nicely.

I like my baked cheesecakes, but this was mighty fine. The filling is best started the night before, to have time to chill.

Serves: 12 – 16

Ingredients
For the crust:

  • 115g gluten-free plain flour
  • 45g porridge oats
  • 75g ground almonds
  • 75g very finely chopped pecans
  • 4 & 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 4 & 1/2 tablespoons maple, agave, or golden syrup; runny honey will do as well

For the filling:

  • One 400ml tin of coconut milk
  • 80g desiccated coconut nibs
  • 200g white chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 750g full-fat soft (i.e., cream) cheese, straight from the fridge
  • 60g icing sugar
  • 50g cornflour
  • 10 fresh cherries, stoned and finely chopped;
    plus 8-10 additional fresh cherries, stoned and quartered, for garnish
  • Freshly grated nutmeg
  • 20-30g desiccated coconut curls, for decoration

Kit

  • A deep-sided, round, loose-based, non-stick tart/flan or pie tin
    (at least 5cm deep and about 24cm in diameter)
    or, a springform tin of similar size
  • 1 large, heavy-bottomed saucepan
  • Mixing bowls: 1 large and 1 medium
  • Clingfilm
  • Manual whisk (if necessary)
  • Cooling rack
  • Nutmeg grater

Steps
Making the crust:

  1. Preheat oven to 190 C (170 C fan-assisted).
  2. Mix the crust ingredients together in a medium bowl with a fork until fully moistened and combined. Press the mixture into the tart/pie tin with your hands, ensuring it’s thin, even, and goes all the way up the sides. Use your knuckles around the bottom edge to ensure it isn’t too thick there. Prick the bottom and sides – including around the bottom edge – all over lightly with a fork (it will puff up if you don’t), and place in the oven.
  3. Bake for 5 minutes, then turn down the oven to 160 C (140 C fan-assisted). Bake for another 15 minutes or so, until evenly browned and not looking or smelling burnt. Remove from the oven to a cooling rack.

Making the filling:

  1. While the crust is baking (see Alternate Prep footnote), put the coconut milk and nibs into a pot on the hob on the lowest heat, and simmer very gently for 45-50 minutes, until totally reduced (i.e., no visible liquid). Give it a good stir every 5 minutes or so; more often after 30 minutes. You should end up with the consistency of very thick porridge.
  2. Take the pot off the heat. Add the white chocolate, and stir it in vigourously until it’s completely melted. Pour into a medium bowl and cover with clingfilm, pressing down to touch the whole top of the mixture to avoid a skin forming. Put into the fridge until chilled through (up to 2 hours, or overnight).
  3. Mix the cheese, sugar, and cornflour in a large bowl very gently. You might find a manual whisk helps with any small lumps. Stir in the chilled chocolate & coconut mixture, and mix gently (the more you work the cream cheese, the runnier it will be).
  4. Blob 1/3 of the filling into the crust and make a smooth layer; sprinkle over 1/2 of the chopped cherries; follow with some freshly grated nutmeg.
    Add half of the remaining filling; sprinkle over the rest of the chopped cherries, with another light grating of nutmeg.
    Spread the last of the filling over. Generously grate more fresh nutmeg over. Lay out the quartered cherries in the pattern of your choice, and sprinkle the coconut curls over. Leave to chill in the fridge for up to 2 hours (or in the freezer for 30 minutes), until firm.
  5. Turn out, slice, and serve.

Alternative Preparation Method
The filling can be made (Filling Steps 1 – 2) and chilled overnight in a covered bowl. The next day, prepare and bake the crust, and leave to fully cool. Pick up again at Filling Step 3.

Toasting the Coconut
If you like, you can dry-fry the coconut nibs in your pot for 20 seconds on a searingly high heat. Keep stirring so all nibs toast evenly. When it’s all very lightly browned, pour in the coconut milk, turn down the heat, and continue with Filling Step 1.

You could also toast the coconut curls for the decoration, in a searingly hot dry frying pan for just 20 seconds. Take care, as more than 20 seconds or so on a very high heat will lead to burning. Pour onto kitchen paper to cool before garnishing the cheesecake.

Attribution
I started with this Raffaello Tart recipe, but that crust was a concrete-hard nightmare so I substituted my own gluten-free and dairy-free crust.
I also added plenty of fresh cherries so their fruity sweetness could complement the richness of the filling. I also added nutmeg for a welcome hint of spice to round the flavours.
Adding cornflour and not using mascarpone (waaay too soft) gave necessary body to the filling.

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