Chocolate Marble Cheesecake with Coconut, Lemongrass, and Kaffir Lime – 17 and Baking does Daring Bakers

April 27, 2009 at 12:00 am 125 comments

Dear Daring Bakers,

I love you. Seriously. Each and every one of you, from the very bottom of my heart. I’ve watched you grow, the blogroll getting longer and longer each month, and I’ve savored the challenges, looking at every elegant photograph and memorable post with admiration and just a touch of envy.

In complete honesty, Daring Bakers, you were out of my league. Perhaps I could make a food blog, but never could I make the same desserts as you – challenging, beautiful, time consuming, potentially expensive – it was not in the cards for an amateur 17 year old who fancied herself a foodie.

Lucky for me, Daring Bakers are the warmest, friendliest bakers around. I still can’t quite believe that I am a Daring Baker now, and that I’ve finished my first challenge. Actually, this might be a daydream. I could potentially be in 5th period English. Don’t wake me up.

Love, love, love

Elissa

The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey’s Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.

After recovering from the wild crazy joy that was being accepted into the Daring Bakers, I went absolutely insane waiting for the April challenge to be announced. I won’t lie – I felt scared that it would be a fancy French pastry that I would completely defile, and that would be the end of it. But I’d made cheesecake twice before – plain cheesecake – and was eager to try more exotic flavors and see how this recipe compared with mine.

I must have played with a dozen different ideas. A spicy Mexican Hot Chocolate cheesecake, green tea and white chocolate, blood orange and champagne, even basil. When I brainstormed aloud about coconut to my parents, my dad said “Thai.” And it all came together.

Chocolate Marble Cheesecake with Coconut, Lemongrass, and Kaffir Lime.

And yeah, that tiny bite is what’s left of the slice from the picture before.

I actually stopped the photoshoot to eat the cake I was photographing. Then I guiltily set down the plate and picked up the camera.

This cheesecake is just that good.

[8/4/10 Update - I made this cheesecake for the Seattle talk show New Day Northwest! Watch me make the cheesecake on TV here.]


It’s a bit Asian inspired. Coconut, lemongrass, and especially kaffir lime are all characteristic flavors in Thai cooking. And the chocolate? You can’t go wrong with that. It pairs really well with the coconut.

The flavor wasn’t as strong as I’d expected, but it was lovely. The coconut is definitely the most prominent, it hits you after the first bite and says “Coconut.” The lemongrass is more subtle. The lime is probably the faintest flavor, not something easily pinpointed but definitely tasted. The chocolate – well, chocolate is always divine. I didn’t use too much because I was worried about overpowering the otherwise delicate flavor of the cheesecake, and I think I hit just the right balance.

This was a great cheesecake recipe. It was creamy, though not quite as heavy as the cheesecake I’ve made before. My mother, who doesn’t care for anything richer than chiffon cake, proclaimed it one of her all time favorites. She was just as reluctant as I was to donate it to her office before we ate the whole thing.

It did crack, though this is probably my fault – I opened the springform pan way, way, way before the cheesecake was done. I also may have overmixed the batter, as I usually do it by hand but used a mixer this time, as per the instructions. I still think the cheesecake looks gorgeous. I didn’t even cover it up with a ganache or fruit. I proudly displayed that crack along with the honey-golden edges and the mysterious chocolate swirls. No one complained.

Changes to the recipe: To add the Thai flavor, I used 1/2 cup heavy cream and 1/2 cup coconut cream rather than the full 1 cup heavy cream called for. I infused the creams with lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves, and used lime juice instead of lemon in the cheesecake too. I didn’t want to buy coconut extract, so I used vanilla. I also didn’t want to buy coconut or lime liquor, so I omitted the alcohol.

The crust combines the Thai and chocolate: crushed chocolate cookies, cocoa powder, and shredded coconut. I left out the sugar in the recipe because the coconut was sweetened.

As for the chocolate swirl, I simply melted bittersweet chocolate and mixed it into about 3/4 cup of the chocolate mixture. The cheesecake probably would have looked nicer with more chocolate swirls, but this ratio kept the coconut, lemongrass, and lime flavors more than an afterthought.

A big thank you to Jenny for hosting such a great challenge, as well as all of the daring bakers for their inspiration and friendliness. I really encourage you to check out everyone else’s cheesecakes too. They’re nothing short of amazing.

Chocolate Marble Cheesecake with Coconut, Lemongrass, and Kaffir Lime
Makes one 9″ cheesecake

Crust
10 whole chocolate graham crackers
4 oz (1 stick) butter, melted
2 tsp Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1/3 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1 tsp vanilla extract

Cheesecake
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup coconut cream (not coconut milk or cream of coconut)
1 large stalk lemon grass, or 2 thin stalks lemon grass
2 dried kaffir lime leaves (can be bought at specialty Asian stores such as Uwajimaya)
3 (8 oz) containers of cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 oz bittersweet chocolate, melted and slightly cooled

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and begin to boil a large pot of water for the waterbath. Generously butter a 9″ springform pan. Wrap the outside of the pan in a extra-heavy duty aluminum foil.

Chop up the lemongrass stalk into inch sized pieces, breaking the layers apart and reserving the juices. Place in a small saucepan, along with the heavy cream, coconut cream, and dried kaffir lime leaves. Heat over medium-high heat until mixture boils, then remove from heat and cover. Let steep until cooled completely. Strain the cream into a small bowl and set aside. Discard the lemongrass and lime leaves.

Place the chocolate graham crackers in a large ziploc bag and close it so it’s airtight. Roll a rolling pin over the bag, pressing down to crush the crackers into fine crumbs. You should end up with 2 cups of crumbs. Mix together the crust ingredients and press into the bottom of the springform pan. [I like to use a metal measuring cup with a flat bottom and straight sides to help pack the crust in.] Set the pan aside.

In the bowl of a stand-mixer (or in a large bowl if using a hand-mixer), beat the cream cheese for 30 seconds on low speed until creamy. Beat in the sugar and cream at a slow speed (about 3 on a Kitchen Aid) until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Make sure to scrape down the bowl in between each egg. Add the infused cream mixture, vanilla extract, and lime juice and blend until just smooth and creamy, taking care not to overmix. [Some lumps are okay. The closer to room temperature your cream cheese is, the fewer lumps you'll get.]

Take 3/4 cup of the cream cheese mixture and mix it with the melted chocolate. Pour a third of the white batter into the prepared crust. Drop in half the chocolate batter in tablespoon sized dollops across the white batter. Smooth the remaining 2/3 of the white batter into the pan. Dollop tablespoons of the remaining 1/2 chocolate batter across the top. Run a sharp, thin knife or bamboo skewer through the batter for a swirled effect.

Tap the pan on the counter a few times to bring all air bubbles to the surface. Set the springform pan inside a larger pan, then pour the boiling water 1 inch deep between the larger pan and the foil. Don’t pour the water between the springform pan and foil.

Bake 45 to 55 minutes, until it is almost done – this can be hard to judge, but you’re looking for the cake to hold together, but still have a lot of jiggle to it in the center. You don’t want it to be completely firm at this stage. [50 minutes is perfect for my oven.] Close the oven door, turn the heat off, and let rest in the cooling oven for one hour. This lets the cake finish cooking and cool down gently enough so that it won’t crack on the top. After one hour, remove cheesecake from oven and lift carefully out of water bath. Let it finish cooling on the counter, and then cover and put in the fridge to chill. Once fully chilled, it is ready to serve.

Printer Friendly Version – Chocolate Marble Cheesecake with Coconut, Lemongrass, and Kaffir Lime

My first DB Challenge, ta-da! I can’t wait for May!

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Mom’s Carrot-Flecked Dinner Rolls Under the Wing of Erin Cooks – plus Triple Berry Frozen Yogurt

125 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Lisa  |  April 27, 2009 at 9:34 pm

    Welcome to Daring Bakers! I think you’ve really impressed all of us being so young and a FANTASTIC baker and photographer! Very well done!! You’re going places lady!!

    Reply
  • 2. kitchenm  |  April 27, 2009 at 10:25 pm

    I would have never guessed that it was Asian inspired! That’s very cool!
    You are so sweet. Thank you for your kind words. :)

    Reply
  • 3. snooky doodle  |  April 27, 2009 at 10:55 pm

    oh my! this looks delicious ! yummy

    Reply
  • 4. asti  |  April 28, 2009 at 12:04 am

    nope.. you’re definitely not out of the league. Your creation is fabulous. Love the flavour combination. Wish I was as good as you when I was 17

    Reply
  • 5. Meeta  |  April 28, 2009 at 1:28 am

    out of the league? no way this looks d’lish! i would love a piece or two! brilliant use of flavors – i still cannot get over the fact that you are 17! i was no where near this at 17! kudos!

    Reply
  • 6. Abbey T  |  April 28, 2009 at 5:15 am

    What a fabulous flavor combination you chose! I’m super-impressed, and will definitely have to try your variation because I simply love all those flavors. I’m the Abbey of the recipe title, and I’m really digging all the variations I’ve read about so far. :-)

    By the way, I’ve had a number of them crack on the top, and I’m the so-called expert. haha! Judging by the browned edges of the cake, I’d say you maybe baked it a few minutes too long… but one of the things I love about this recipe is how hard it is to screw it up. Even “overcooked” it’s still fabulous and delicious. The hardest part is knowing when to turn off the oven and resisting temptation to speed up the cooling process… really tricky business, I know! But hey, the cracked ones are just as yummy as the uncracked.

    Congrats on your first DB challenge – I just joined up myself and will be doing my first challenge soon! :-)

    Reply
  • 7. Teanna  |  April 28, 2009 at 6:41 am

    Your photography is OUTRAGEOUS. The first photo is magazine worthy!

    Reply
  • 8. Celeste  |  April 28, 2009 at 7:11 am

    WOW….this looks fabulous!!!

    Reply
  • 9. Mindy  |  April 28, 2009 at 7:26 am

    Welcome to Daring Bakers! I’m rather new too, and although it’s been a while since I was 17, I was intimidated for a while too. The whole group is really great and supportive, and I love the challenge of making things that I wouldn’t normally bake.

    Your cheesecake looks amazing!

    Reply
  • 10. Sophie  |  April 28, 2009 at 8:43 am

    What a gorgeous cheesecake! The flavors sound so exotic. I can’t get my cheesecakes to come out half this nice :D. Lovely job!

    Reply
  • 11. Christina  |  April 28, 2009 at 10:43 am

    AMAZING! What a sweet young woman you are and your cheesecake looks divine! The crack adds so much character and just looks like a deep swirl.

    Welcome to the Daring Bakers group! You are already becoming an elite member with such daring flavor combinations and success! Here’s to many more YEARS of baking!

    Reply
  • 12. Christina  |  April 28, 2009 at 10:45 am

    Your cheesecake looks fantastic! Great job! Welcome to the Daring Bakers!

    Reply
  • 13. madcap cupcake  |  April 28, 2009 at 11:42 am

    Congrats on your first DB challenge!! Your cheesecake turned out beautifully – lovely photo!!

    Reply
  • 14. BitterSweet  |  April 28, 2009 at 5:02 pm

    Welcome, and great work on your first challenge! :)

    Reply
  • 15. Suzy  |  April 28, 2009 at 7:04 pm

    What a great looking and sounding cheesecake! Awesome flavor combination and beautiful photos. Thanks for stopping by my blog!

    Reply
  • 16. Claudia Haas  |  April 28, 2009 at 7:14 pm

    This looks absolutely scrumptious. If I could have done this in high school, I could have ruled the world.

    Reply
  • 17. Micco  |  April 28, 2009 at 8:01 pm

    This is an awfully clever concoction, missy.

    Reply
  • 18. Y  |  April 29, 2009 at 12:54 am

    Welcome to DB! Love your photos and the cheesecake looks outstanding.

    Reply
  • 19. amelia  |  April 29, 2009 at 2:34 am

    Hi Elissa, welcome to the Daring Bakers! Don’t worry about a thing, if you bake, you belong! And judging from your beautiful cheesecake, you REALLY have nothing to worry about =D

    Reply
  • 20. Renato  |  April 29, 2009 at 6:27 am

    Hey, Elissa!
    Congratulations for your first Daring Bakers Challenge! Your Chessecake looks great! And congratulaions for the great blog you have! Loved your recipes and pics!
    Ah, and thanks for stopping by my blog! You should try using that Dulce de Leche Mousse, too!

    Reply
  • 21. Chantal  |  April 29, 2009 at 6:57 am

    You are so talented, and lucky to have found your passion so early!
    Great job!

    Reply
  • 22. JennyBakes  |  April 29, 2009 at 7:52 am

    I have been enamored with your flavor combination since I saw you post it to the forums. This is a great entrance into the Daring Bakers, you obviously belong, and I’m honored it was on my challenge. I can’t wait to see what you do next!

    Reply
  • 23. Bread and Jam  |  April 29, 2009 at 8:07 am

    This looks wonderful! And your pics turned out great! What a creative flavor combination. Great job! :)

    Reply
  • 24. Cate O'Malley  |  April 29, 2009 at 8:11 am

    Your cheesecake looks gorgeous!

    Reply
  • 25. raquel  |  April 29, 2009 at 8:24 am

    awesome job! congratulations on your first DB challenge. i look forward to your next challenges and learning from you. your flavor combinations are amazing!

    Reply
  • 26. Jess  |  April 29, 2009 at 10:59 am

    Congrats on your first challenge and such a great cake! Looks delicious!

    Reply
  • 27. Karen  |  April 29, 2009 at 12:11 pm

    Loved the flavors in your cheesecake! Divine!

    Reply
  • 28. farida  |  April 29, 2009 at 12:58 pm

    Elissa, I am here from Erin’s blog. Love it here. You are so young and talented! Great looking cheesecake!

    Reply
  • 29. Melissa @ For the Love of Health  |  April 29, 2009 at 1:09 pm

    What a gorgeous looking cheesecake! I would love a bite! (or two)
    :-)

    Reply
  • 30. Leona  |  April 29, 2009 at 1:58 pm

    Your such a sweety! Thanks for your comments about my Berry in Love cheesecake.

    Your entry this month is very creative and it looks tasty too. I can’t wait to see more of your work. :) I have been cooking forever and if you need a little extra advice I’d be happy to give it.

    See you online
    Leona

    Reply
  • 31. Holly  |  April 29, 2009 at 5:44 pm

    Fantastic swirls and such a creative flavor! Welcome to the Daring Bakers!

    Reply
  • 32. Zoë Francois  |  April 29, 2009 at 8:42 pm

    Really fabulous! I just love your flavors!

    Reply
  • 33. Dragana  |  April 30, 2009 at 5:41 am

    Welcome to the group, Elissa! I am so impressed with your talent and creativity! I too loved to bake when I was very young but nothing quite this fancy. Congrats, you met your first challenge!

    Reply
  • 34. thestudiouscook  |  April 30, 2009 at 3:31 pm

    Hey! The cheesecake looks really good. I’m starting my first challenge in May :). I actually just started my blog, I’m 18 so I guess we’re kind of in a similar boat? You’ve done so well so congrats!

    Reply
  • 35. Lori  |  May 2, 2009 at 4:33 pm

    Wow 85 messages! And WOW that is one incredible cheesecake. Beautiful pictures. Amazing job.

    Reply
  • 36. MJ  |  May 12, 2009 at 2:35 pm

    oo I have to try to make this sometime!

    Reply
  • 37. Kayvie  |  May 18, 2009 at 6:05 am

    Dear Elissa,

    I made this cheesecake for some friends a couple of weekends ago. It was absolutely awesome! Next time (yes, there will be a next time) I will put even more lemongrass and lime into the batter. I don’t love dessicated coconut, so I substituted that out of the base. I added too much of the batter to the melted chocolate, so it didn’t swirl as nicely as yours, but this is easily ammended.

    For the main course I had done Bill Granger’s Chicken Burgers with Lemongrass and Lime (also absolutely awesome – he is a genius and I can not wait for him to come to England!), and this complemented the dish perfectly. Thanks so much!

    Reply
  • 38. Liz  |  June 7, 2009 at 11:56 am

    Speaking of creative cheesecakes, what a great looking flavor combination!

    Reply
  • 39. Shannon L  |  June 7, 2009 at 7:05 pm

    Hi, Elissa! Have you seen a uptake in blog views and comments since you joined DB? If not how did you get such a following, if you dont mind me asking. I am trying to look for ways to expand my blog’s audience!

    Reply
  • 40. Elissa  |  June 7, 2009 at 7:19 pm

    Hi Shannon, I’d love to give you a thorough answer… do you have an email?

    Reply
  • 41. Shannon L  |  June 8, 2009 at 3:01 pm

    Yeah, Elissa its robbilepre@aol.com, I would love to know!

    Thanks!

    Reply
  • 42. Sis  |  August 18, 2009 at 7:36 pm

    Just thought you might like to know, I have baked THREE of these cheesecakes since I first saw this recipe. LOL!

    It’s WONDERFUL! The last time I baked it, I made a couple of minor changes that seemed to work better for my tastes, but the basic foundation is still there. I took one to work today and the other therapists went crazy over this; one of them gave me the most awesome compliment I’ve ever received about something I’ve cooked – she said “This tastes like it should be on the dessert menu of a really nice restaurant.” :)

    Thanks for posting it for us to try. It’s become a family favorite, and I suspect it will be requested by my workmates again, too!

    Reply
  • [...] with Coconut, Lemongrass and Kaffir Lime – this cheesecake is packed with flavor – Read the recipe: 17 and Baking (photo below) – Spring the [...]

    Reply
  • 44. Kathy Niemer  |  December 27, 2009 at 3:21 pm

    This sounds fabulous! I will have to try this. Really, all your recipes are intriguing and my hat is off to you! By the way, I thought for YEARS that cracks in cheesecakes were inevitable. So I always made my vanilla cheesecake and then topped it with cherries just to hide the (I thought) inevitable crack. But the last couple times I’ve done a couple of new things. First, when the timer goes off, I open the oven and run a sharp knife all the way around between the edge of the cheesecake and the springform pan. Then I let the cake cool for about 15-20 min. in the oven so it cools very gently. And as it starts to pull away from the pan as it cools, it’s not STUCK to the pan and this seems to be working.

    Reply
  • 45. sitene ekle  |  May 6, 2010 at 1:10 am

    Your cheesecake looks gorgeous! Great job and welcome to the Daring Bakers!

    Reply
  • 46. Heather H.  |  January 21, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    This cheescake looks absolutely exqusite! I am simply amazed that a young adult such as yourself, is capable of producing such a wonder! Seeing the pictures reminds me of Marie from “Everybody Loves Raymond.” Indeed, the most important ingredient in any recipe is love. Best wishes to all your future endeavors!

    Reply
  • 47. Aleks @ dog training courses  |  September 15, 2011 at 11:52 am

    Wow :( That looks delicious. And such an exotic mix of ingredients.
    I wish my girlfriend could bake that good!..

    Aleks

    Reply
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Elissa Bernstein



I'm Elissa: a 17 (now 21) year old baker in Seattle Boston juggling creative nonfiction workshops, subway maps, and my passions for writing, baking, and photography. Photo above © Michelle Moore

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