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

April 27, 2009 at 12:00 am 135 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


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

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

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!

Entry filed under: Cake/Cupcakes, Daring Bakers. Tags: , , , , , , , , .

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

135 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Angela  |  April 27, 2009 at 12:29 am

    Elissa, I am seriously impressed! What a wonderful combination of flavours, I could eat it right off the page! If this is a sign of what you can produce at sweet 17, you have a very bright future ahead of you!

  • 2. mylittlestitches  |  April 27, 2009 at 12:31 am

    Oooh delicious! Yours was one of the cheesecakes that stopped me in my tracks somewhat in the challenge thread. There’s nothing wrong with being 17 missus, nothing’s out of your league! I was 18 when I joined The Daring Bakers, it’s all a learning curve… one which you seem to be rocking a lot better than me! Keep up the amazing work!

  • 3. Rosa  |  April 27, 2009 at 12:34 am

    Very well done! That cheesecake looks beautiful! I love your choice of flavors!



  • 4. Audax Artifex  |  April 27, 2009 at 12:53 am

    I remember your photo in the challenge thread and I thought how wonderful it looks so good and to think that you are only 17 and this is your 1st challenge. Congrats on such an excellent result and the flavour combination is to die for. Yes the DBers are a lovely group of people always helpful. Hope you have many more happy challenges. Yours from Australia.

  • 5. Recipe man  |  April 27, 2009 at 1:32 am

    wow this looks so food. im sure the texture is great too!


  • 6. giz  |  April 27, 2009 at 2:11 am

    A can do attitude will certainly get you places. It’s great to feel the fear and do it anyways.

  • 7. rhyleysgranny  |  April 27, 2009 at 2:22 am

    Thank you for you kind comments about my cheesecake. Yours looks amazing. It’s a lovely recipe isn’t it?

  • 8. Zita  |  April 27, 2009 at 2:47 am

    *HUG* I think we other daring bakers love you too, I mean… if you can make a cheese cake with superb flavors like that, who wouldn’t? ;)

  • 9. Angela @ A Spoonful of Sugar  |  April 27, 2009 at 3:18 am

    Welcme to the Daring Bakers, Elissa! We love you, too :)

    Your cheesecake looks and sounds incredibly good! The swirl is so pretty…

  • 10. Eliana  |  April 27, 2009 at 3:19 am

    This is such a creative take on cheese. I think it looks great and can only imagine how those wonderful flavors taste. I will have to try this as cheesecake is my favorite cake.

  • 11. melanger  |  April 27, 2009 at 4:27 am

    Welcome to Daring Bakers. Your cheesecake is fabulous. I have been checking out a number of blogs with today’s posting and just blown away at some of the creativity. I think you’ve done a great job. In fact, mine is down right plain in comparison to some of the cheesecakes out there! My favourite part of DB, there’s always next month’s challenge to look forward to…..

  • 12. Rachel  |  April 27, 2009 at 4:30 am

    I’m sooo impressed! You did a wonderful job! Your cheesecake looks so yummy. You were very creative! You have a bright future ahead of you, I can hardly believe you’re only 17.

  • 13. Lorraine @NotQuiteNigella  |  April 27, 2009 at 5:03 am

    Wow, what do you mean DB is out of your league? Not so at all! I must disagree-your cheesecake looks delicious!

  • 14. Cristine  |  April 27, 2009 at 5:08 am

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

  • 15. sarah  |  April 27, 2009 at 5:35 am

    Wow, I can’t believe you are 17! That sophisticated combination of flavors and beautiful looking cheesecake! Not that I think that someone so young can’t rock it… I’ve been cooking since I can remember and I’m only 23. You did a fabulous job! Thanks for your comment on my blog. I can’t wait for next month’s challenge, too!

  • 16. Meg  |  April 27, 2009 at 5:37 am

    WOW ! That looks absolutely amazing!

  • 17. Alana @ The Good Girl Gone Blog  |  April 27, 2009 at 6:13 am


  • 18. jo  |  April 27, 2009 at 6:28 am

    Great job on your 1st challenge and the flavours sound absolutely exotic.

  • 19. Nichole  |  April 27, 2009 at 6:36 am

    That looks SO good! I can’t wait to see what your future challenges. :)

  • 20. Michelle  |  April 27, 2009 at 6:51 am

    Welcome to Daring Bakers! Great job on your 1st challenge! Great flavors, good job! Congrats!

  • 21. Helen  |  April 27, 2009 at 7:00 am

    Welcome to the DBs! It’s an honor to have you with us!
    I am in love with the flavors of your cheesecake. Bravo!

  • 22. Amanda  |  April 27, 2009 at 7:04 am

    Elissa, you are such a daring baker! I love the idea of all these flavors showing up in one cheesecake. It sounds absolutely amazing.

    And I too feared the French pastry when I joined in March. To be honest, I’m worried the May challenge will be exactly that! Oh well, we can take it! :)

  • 23. amy  |  April 27, 2009 at 7:35 am

    gorgeous cake and interesting flavours:)

  • 24. Baking Monster  |  April 27, 2009 at 7:42 am

    Congrats!I’m gonna have to do that one of these days. I love anything Thai so this is a winner!

  • 25. sara  |  April 27, 2009 at 8:05 am

    Gorgeous! Looks delicious! I did coconut as one of my flavors too, but couldn’t get it to taste very “coconut-y”…maybe I need to use the coconut cream in your recipe (couldn’t find that at my store)…I will have to look for it! I love your photos!

  • 26. anna  |  April 27, 2009 at 9:10 am

    Hehe, I’ve stopped mid-shoot to eat some of my subject before. Sometimes it’s on purpose so I can get a shot of the insides, but sometimes it’s just because I can’t help myself. Welcome to the Daring Baker’s, too! The range of creativity we get tends to keep things as simple, cheap, complicated or expensive as you want them to be. :)

  • 27. Memoria  |  April 27, 2009 at 9:18 am

    I’m so jealous that you are 17 and producing such beautiful creations. I can’t believe you don’t feel more confident in your challenge contribution; it is a stunning cheesecake!! Your photos are awesome as well!

  • 28. Memoria  |  April 27, 2009 at 9:24 am

    I also wanted to say that your writing is stellar as well. I can’t believe you’re so young. You write better than many adults! You are going to be a force to be reckoned with for sure.

    Happy belated birthday, btw.

  • 29. gratinee  |  April 27, 2009 at 9:44 am

    Very impressive, Elissa! Good job. The cheesecake looks wonderful and I’m sure it tasted absolutely delicious–which is why you couldn’t keep your hands off it.

  • 30. Jen  |  April 27, 2009 at 10:02 am

    My oh my, your cheesecake is a true original! Lovely photos and writing. I must admit too that I like the crack in the cheesecake. It’s an invitation to tear off chunks and eat away! Congrats!

  • 31. linda  |  April 27, 2009 at 12:28 pm

    Congratulations on your first challenge, you did a wonderful job! Love the combination of flavours you used. Your cheesecake looks wonderfully rustic.

  • 32. lisamichele  |  April 27, 2009 at 12:51 pm

    I wish I knew this is what I wanted to do with my life when I was 17! Your talent at such a young age is amazing. Love the combo of flavors and your cheesecake looks gorgeous!

  • 33. Olga  |  April 27, 2009 at 1:31 pm

    I applaud your creativity! The final result looks absolutely scrumptious!

  • 34. Jenny Tan  |  April 27, 2009 at 3:20 pm

    Oh Elissa! You’re too modest! :) You have done an amazing job…not many 17 years old or even those of us who have to dye our hair to cover up the grays can pull off what you have done (not just this challenge, but your other post too!). You have a bright future, just make sure you’re not day dreaming in your classes! LOL. I had tears in my eyes when I read your dad’s comment on your profile page! *dabbing my eyes* I could just feel how proud your parents are of you! Well done, and keep it up! :)

  • 35. chocolateshavings  |  April 27, 2009 at 3:45 pm

    Your cheesecake looks so scrumptious!

  • 36. peasepudding  |  April 27, 2009 at 4:02 pm

    beautiful combination of flavours and your photos look great. I see we share the same Blog format :o)

  • 37. elra  |  April 27, 2009 at 4:32 pm

    You choose such an exotic flavoring. I am sure it taste the best.

  • 38. Lilia  |  April 27, 2009 at 5:08 pm

    I LOVE the marble color in the cake!! So yummy!
    Great job * hi 5 for daring bakers!*

  • 39. Marta  |  April 27, 2009 at 5:51 pm

    Oh wow!!!! I salute you cheesecake-making abilities!!!!! this is your first challenge? I think you’ve secured a grand introduction for yourself into the DB world, this looks amazing! Good job with the flavour combo, they must go together beautifully, plus they sound very elegant! The photos look great as well. Good job!!!!!

  • 40. Heather  |  April 27, 2009 at 5:54 pm

    FANTASTIC!! You did an awesome job on the photography as well as the cheesecake!

  • 41. Gretchen Noelle  |  April 27, 2009 at 6:00 pm

    Way to enter the room! Your cheesecake is not only creative but impressive. Wonderful job! Welcome tot he Daring Bakers!

  • 42. kai  |  April 27, 2009 at 6:56 pm

    dang elissa, dang. too bad i’m not one of the people who can say “welcome to DB!” but really? you didn’t tell us about the amazing cheesecake…>_>. I did I ever tell you that if you have any sudden urges to bake multiple cakes or any giant batches of cookies you should call? i’d be right there in a flash to help you finish it all up. ;)

    good job with the baking and congratz on the blog! <3

  • 43. Arlette  |  April 27, 2009 at 6:57 pm

    Hello Elissa

    I did one flavour with marbled chocolate , but my husband insisted on more chocolate on top for decoration so i covered the marbled with chocolate ganache… oh well!!!

    then cake and flavour combination is great

  • 44. Jude  |  April 27, 2009 at 6:58 pm

    Oh my. Such a creative flavor combo with the cocoonut and kaffir lime. Welcome to DB!

  • 45. Holly  |  April 27, 2009 at 7:15 pm

    Welcome to Daring Bakers! From what I’ve seen so far I think you were too hard on yourself – your blog looks great to me! So does your cheesecake!

  • 46. Dragon  |  April 27, 2009 at 7:47 pm

    You are so creative! Great job on this month’s challenge.

  • 47. Elizabeth  |  April 27, 2009 at 7:56 pm

    Looks great! It’s good, isn’t it?

  • 48. Andrea  |  April 27, 2009 at 8:11 pm

    A very delicious and creative flavor combination. I love Thai food and can imagine all these flavors together. Nicely done, and welcome to the Daring Bakers!

  • 49. Lauren  |  April 27, 2009 at 8:44 pm

    Awesome job on your first challenge!! Us teens are the future of this group =D. Your cheesecake looks amazingly good, and the flavours sound divine!!

  • 50. Barbara  |  April 27, 2009 at 9:21 pm

    Your cheesecake is beautiful! I don’t think I could resist eating it either.


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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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