Kona Coffee-Chocolate Cheesecake
A rich mocha flavoring from Hawaii-grown chocolate and coffee is blended with macadamia nuts and bananas in this dessert. The finished cheesecake resembles an individual torte, surrounded by a sea of caramel sauce. Other fruits and sauces can be used for variation.
- Macadamia Nut Brittle
- Sugar - 1/3 cup
- Water - 2/3 cup
- Sugar - 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons
- Water - 1 cup
- Salt - 1/4 teaspoon, dissolved in 2 tablespoons warm water
- Macadamia nuts - 2 cups
- Unsalted Butter - 1 tablespoon
- Baking Soda - 1/4 teaspoon, dissolved in 2 tablespoons warm water
- Kona coffee or other fine coffee - 1/4 teaspoon finely, ground
- All-Purpose Flour - 2 cups, unbleached
- Salt - 1/4 teaspoon
- Sugar - 1/4 teaspoon
- Unsalted Butter - 7 tablespoons, cold, cut in small pieces
- Bittersweet Chocolate - 3 ounces, grated
- Brown Sugar - 3/4 cup, lightly packed
- Macadamia nuts - 1/2 cup, finely chopped
- Pecans - 1/2 cup, finely chopped
- Freshly brewed double-strength Kona coffee or other fine coffee - 3 ounces
- Vanilla Extract - 1/4 teaspoon
- Cheesecake Filling
- Bittersweet Chocolate - 6 ounces, chopped
- Heavy (whipping) cream - 1 cup
- Kona coffee or other fine coffee - 3 tablespoons, ground
- Cream Cheese - 1 pound, at room temperature
- Sugar - 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons
- Eggs - 4
- Heavy (whipping) cream - 1/4 cup
- Creme De Cacao - 2 tablespoons
- Sauteed Bananas
- Unsalted Butter - 3 tablespoons
- Brown Sugar - 2 tablespoons, packed
- Bananas - 2, ripe, peeled
- Tia Maria liqueur - 2 tablespoons
- Banana-Caramel Sauce
- Bananas - 3, peeled and sliced
- Orange Juice - 3 tablespoons
- Heavy (whipping) cream - 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons
- Sugar - 2 cups
- Water - 1/2 cup
- Dark Rum - 5 tablespoons
- Chocolate Ganache
- Heavy (whipping) cream - 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons
- Unsalted Butter - 4 tablespoons
- Sugar - 3/8 cup
- Unsweetened Cocoa Powder - 3 tablespoons
- Water - 5 tablespoons
- Bittersweet Chocolate - 9-1/2 ounces, chopped
To make the brittle: Oil a piece of marble or a baking sheet, or line a baking sheet with a silicon liner. Combine the 1/3 cup sugar and 2/3 cup water in a small saucepan and cook over medium-high heat until the sugar dissolves and the mixture comes to a boil. Remove from heat and let cool. This is simple syrup. Combine the simple syrup, sugar, and water and cook over medium heat to 236 F on a candy thermometer (a small amount dropped into a glass of cold water forms a soft pliable ball). Stir the salt water into the mixture. Continue heating to 265 F, or until the same test yields a hard, pliable ball. Add the nuts and continue to cook to a light caramel color, 320 F. Remove from heat, stir in the butter, baking soda mixture, and coffee, and pour out onto the prepared marble or baking sheet. Let cool. Break into large pieces and store in an airtight jar until ready to use.
To make the crust: In a medium bowl, blend the flour, salt, sugar, and butter with a pastry blender or your fingers until it is the texture of cornmeal. Add the chocolate, brown sugar, and nuts, and work with your fingertips until all ingredients are blended. Add the coffee and vanilla and mix to form a soft dough. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate 4 to 6 hours.
When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 F. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll out 1/4-inch thick on a lightly floured surface. Using a 4-inch ring mold as a cutter, cut out 8 circles, or “cookies.” Press the remaining dough into eight 4-inch fluted tart shells. Place the shells and cookies on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 8 minutes, or until partially set. Let cool.
To make the filling: In a double boiler over barely simmering water, melt the chocolate and heat to 100 F. In a small saucepan, bring the cream and coffee to a boil over medium heat. Strain through a fine-meshed sieve into the chocolate. Whisk until smooth and shiny.
Preheat the oven to 350 F. In a food processor or electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula and beating the mixture between each addition. Add the cream and liqueur and blend. Mix in the melted chocolate. Pour the mixture into the crusts. Bake until the center is just firm, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.
To prepare the bananas: In a medium saute pan or skillet, melt the butter and brown sugar over medium-high heat. Cut the bananas into thin diagonal slices. Add the bananas to the caramel. Add the liqueur and saute, tossing or stirring to coat all sides, until the bananas are tender, about 1 minute. Remove from heat, pour out onto a plate, and let cool.
To make the sauce: Puree the bananas and orange juice in a blender or food processor. In a deep saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the cram to a boil. Remove the cream from the heat and stir in the puree. In a medium saute pan or skillet, combine the sugar and water and cook over medium-high heat to a golden caramel color. Carefully pour in the hot cream mixture and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring to blend. Strain the mixture through a fine-meshed sieve into a small bowl. Peel and cut the remaining banana into fine dice; you should have 1/4 cup. Stir in the rum and diced bananas. Set aside.
To make the ganache: In a heavy, medium saucepan, combine the cream, butter, and sugar and bring to a boil. In a small bowl, stir the cocoa and water to blend, then add to the cream mixture. Return the cream to a boil. Place the chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl and pour the boiling cream mixture over the chocolate to melt it. Gently stir the cream mixture and chocolate together. Keep warm over warm water.
To assemble and serve: Line a baking sheet with parchment or waxed paper and place a wire rack on top. Place four sauteed banana slices on top of each cheesecake. Cover each with one of the cookies and press them firmly into place. Unmold the cakes onto the wire rack, sealed-side down, and pour the warm ganache over the tarts to coat them completely. Let set, then carefully lift with a spatula and place on dessert plates. Surround each cake with sauce and stand a piece of macadamia nut brittle in the top of each cake.