every saturday my grandma answers the phone “shabbat shalom whoever you are!”. and this started off as any normal friday night shabbat dinner…

…any normal tapas style middle-eastern meats eastern-eastern potluck Shabbat dinner: the motzi over challah, labne dip with marinated white beans, grilled chicken kabobs, and make-your-own-spring-rolls. What it turned into was something entirely different. There was a hanging palm tree, followed by birthday crowns, and a birthday surprise.  It devolved into a facebook-profile-picture photoshoot with a sequin backdrop, a-morir eyewear, and direction of “You’re a tiger! You’re a tiger!”  It was one of those nights that can’t be accurately described in a blog post, or even by photographs. it was amazing and warm and lovely: a celebration that could only be shared amongst sisters (even if they were from two different families).

The “amazing candle” (if you do not know what this is, then you have not lived) was the only appropriate way to top the birthday cake, and yet it seemed almost not quite special enough. When the amazing candle isn’t special enough, then it must be quite a special day.

We ate the cake while standing, sitting, lounging on the counter top, ladylike from our plates, then straight from the cake with a fork, and eventually just with our fingers. The night ended, and unfortunately, I was a bit sad. “sad?” you may ask? Yes, sad. The night had ended, as all things must, yet in the moment, I wished it would go on forever.

Make this dessert for your sisters.

Sweet Curry Chocolate Cheesecakes
with Coconut and Chocolate Ganache

(adapted from Bob Vivant)

Ingredients

crust:
12 oz coconut shortbread (Substitute plain vanilla shortbread if you can’t find coconut.- I used graham cracker and Ras El Hanout instead of cardamom)
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 cup butter, melted

filling:
16 oz cream cheese
1/2 c. granulated sugar
2 T brandy
2 T heavy whipping cream
4 oz bittersweet chocolate, melted
3 egg yolks
1 whole egg
1/4 c. cocoa
1 T sweet curry powder

topping:
1 T butter
6 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2/3 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut

Directions:

crust:

  1. Using a food processor, turn the shortbread into coarse crumbs.
  2. Add cardamom and melted butter. Pulse to combine.
  3. Spoon the crumbs into the bottom of the springform pan.
  4. Using the blunt end of a wooden spoon or similar, tamp the crumbs until firmly and evenly compacted.
  5. Refrigerate until ready to fill.

filling:

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F.
  2. Add the cream cheese and sugar to a large bowl and mix on medium/high speed until fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and beat until thoroughly combined.
  4. Spoon the mixture on top of the crumb crust leaving about a 1/2″ between the top of the filling and the top of the pan.
  5. Bake for 25 minutes or until the cheesecake is firm to the touch. (They will puff up above the top of the pan and probably crack. Don’t fret, they will sink as they cool, and the ganache will hide any and all imperfections.)
  6. Remove the cake from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool.
  7. Increase the oven temperature to 375°F.

topping:

  1. Spread the coconut on a baking sheet and place it in the oven. Bake until flakes are golden, about 5 minutes. Stir the coconut once or twice while it bakes.
  2. Combine the butter, remaining chocolate, and whipping cream in the top of a double boiler. Whisk until the chocolate is melted and the cream is fully incorporated. Set aside to cool and thicken slightly.
  3. In the meantime, carefully remove the cooled cheesecake from the pan and place it on waxed paper.
  4. Spoon the room temperature ganache over the top of each cheesecake. Liberally. (Sharoni note: this was the favorite part of the cheesecake!)
  5. Sprinkle with toasted coconut.
  6. Chill until ganache has set.
  7. Let the cakes come to room temperature before serving

Eat and Enjoy!

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