This coconut cheesecake with a thick whipped cream topping looks typical enough, but it’s perfumed with musky, flowery aromas and flavored with notes of caramel and smoke. Chef Ian Chalermkittichai, who developed this recipe for New York’s Spot Dessert Bar, uses a technique from his native Thailand to infuse the cake’s cream cheese base with this heady mix of scents and tastes from an incense candle. Smoking the cream cheese is optional, but if you’d like to, you can order the candle at Temple of Thai. This recipe first appeared in our May 2012 issue along with Betsy Andrews’s story Smoky and Sweet.
- 3 (8-oz.) packages cream cheese
- 1 cup ground chocolate wafer cookie crumbs
- 4 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
- 3⁄4 cup sugar
- 2 cups heavy cream, chilled
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 4 eggs
- 1 egg yolk
- 1⁄2 cup coconut milk
- 1⁄2 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 2 oz. white chocolate, shaved
- Place a Thai incense candle in a 3″-wide bowl; place within a larger bowl containing cheese. Light candle; cover bowl with foil. Smoke for 30 minutes. Uncover bowl; set aside.
- Heat oven to 300°. Mix crumbs and butter in a bowl; press into bottom of a 9″ springform pan wrapped in foil. Bake until set, about 15 minutes; cool. Process cheese and sugar in a food processor until smooth. Add 1 cup cream, salt, vanilla, eggs, and yolk; process until smooth. Pour cream cheese custard over cooled crust; bake until cheesecake jiggles slightly in center, about 1 hour, 15 minutes. Cool, and chill for 4 hours.
- Whisk remaining cream, coconut milk, and confectioners’ sugar until stiff peaks form; spread over cake. Sprinkle with chocolate to garnish.