Today is Adam’s birthday. Each year I try to find something special that I can make for him for dessert. He’s pretty easy when it comes to what meal he wants: Steak frittes (AKA steak and a side of fries). But dessert is where I get to play.
Last year I made him a cake based on the drink called an “Irish Car Bomb”. The drink involves A Guinness, Jamison’s Irish Whiskey, and Bailey’s Irish Cream. The cake used all those ingredients too and it was pretty fantastic. This year, however, I went in a totally different direction… translation, no alcohol!
A couple of weeks ago I needed to buy limes for use in our rum punch and gin and tonic while Adam and I were away for our anniversary. While in the store I stumbled across a bag of Key limes, which are considered the ultimate in limes. I bought them and when we came home from the trip I had far more than the non-vacation rum punch volume of consumption could support.
So I started searching for key lime pie recipes as a way to use up the rest of them. Then, I stumbled upon Smitten Kitchen’s recipe for Key Lime Cheesecake with Mango. All I can say is that it’s even better than you imagine it will be. Which is saying something.
I messed with the recipe only a little… mostly because I have a 10 inch spring form pan and Deb’s recipe calls for a 9-9.5 inch pan, so I tried to compensate. It made things insanely complicated and if you are smart and use the right pan you won’t have to change it at all so I’m going to link you directly to her recipe because, well, it’s hers, I haven’t improved it any, and her pictures are better!
I’ll just mention, lastly, that instead of refined white sugar I used evaporated can juice… I used Back to Nature brand honey graham sticks and the crust turned out perfectly… I also used a fair amount of fresh key lime juice, which really made the flavor pop, but I also used some of Nellie & Joe’s Key lime juice and it was fantastic too.
I’m fighting off the urge to eat cheesecake for breakfast!
Stolen Directly From Smitten Kitchen (with wild adoration for Deb and her inspiration, Gourmet Magazine May 2002)
1 1/4 cups fine graham cracker crumbs (5 ounces)
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, melted
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese at room temperature
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 cup fresh key lime juice (strained from about 1 1/2 lb Key limes) or bottled (Nellie and Joe’s is wonderful, as is Manhattan brand, if you can find it)
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
2 large firm-ripe mangoes
1 tablespoon fresh Key lime juice (strained) or bottled
1/2 cup chilled heavy cream
1 tablespoon sugar
Special equipment: a 9- to 9 1/2-inch springform pan; a mandoline or other adjustable-blade slicer
Make crust: Preheat oven to 350°F and butter bottom and side of springform pan.
Stir together crumbs, sugar, and butter in a bowl with a fork until combined well, then press evenly onto bottom and one-third up side of pan. Bake crust in middle of oven 8 minutes and cool in pan on a rack.
Make filling: Reduce oven temperature to 325°F.
Beat cream cheese with an electric mixer at medium speed until fluffy, then beat in sugar. Add lime juice, sour cream, and vanilla and beat until smooth. Mix in flour and salt at low speed, scraping down side as needed, until just incorporated, then add eggs all at once and mix just until incorporated.
Pour filling into crust and set springform pan in a shallow baking pan. Bake cake in middle of oven until set in center, 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes. Cool completely in springform pan on rack. (Cake will continue to set as it cools.)
Run a thin knife around edge of cake and remove side of pan. If desired, transfer cake with a large metal spatula to a serving plate.
Make topping: Peel mangoes and, leaving fruit whole, slice very thinly lengthwise (slightly less than 1/8 inch thick) with mandoline (use caution — peeled mango is slippery). Halve wide slices lengthwise. Gently toss mango slices with lime juice. (I instead cut the slices with a flower-shaped cookie cutter, thinking they’d be a little neater for the miniature cakes.)
Beat cream with sugar in a bowl with electric mixer until it just holds stiff peaks, then spread over top of cheesecake. Bending and curling mango slices, arrange them decoratively over cream.
Do ahead: Cheesecake (without topping) can be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered. If desired, bring to room temperature. Add topping just before serving.”