However, dieters beware! If you are on a diet to lose weight or to lower your cholesterol, you might want to skip this article, because I can’t think of any way to prepare a dreamy cheesecake without those calories and added cholesterol.
When I was young, I always looked forward to Mother’s big bowl of ambrosia. This mixture of fresh oranges, coconut and sugar always made an appearance at our Christmas dinner. Sometimes she would add pineapple, which gave it another dimension of flavor.
For those who are not familiar with this Southern specialty, it was described by the poet Ibicus as “nine times sweeter than honey.” The Greeks describe it as the “food of the Gods.”
My description? When I talk about ambrosia, I refer to it as a “Southern tradition and a mouthwatering delicious blend of fruit and coconut.”
If you are not ready for the following cheesecake, just mix up a bowl of ambrosia and I am sure your family will enjoy it. Of course, if you are a dessert lover like I am, you will probably opt for the cheesecake.
The dominant flavor in the ambrosia cheesecake is, of course, orange, and on top is a coconut mixture that forms a macaroon ring around the outer edge. This cheesecake is good with or without the macaroon ring. It is beautiful, rich and delicious. What more could you want from cheesecake?
Don’t worry if the cheesecake has a little split. It will go back together as the dessert cools. If not, just add a little more decorations on top to disguise it.
1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs
⅓ cup butter or margarine, softened to room temperature
¼ cup sugar
Combine all crust ingredients and mix well. Press onto the bottom of a 10-inch springform pan.
5 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1 ⅔ cups sugar
2 teaspoons grated orange rind
½ teaspoon coconut flavoring
¼ cup orange-flavored liqueur
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. In a large mixing bowl combine the cream cheese, sugar, orange rind, coconut flavoring and orange liqueur. Beat well. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Pour over the crust in the springform pan. Bake for 10 minutes at 450 degrees. Reduce the temperature to 300 degrees and bake for 35 minutes.
Carefully remove the cheesecake from the oven. Increase the temperature to 350 degrees. Spread the macaroon mixture (recipe below) around the outer edge of the cheesecake, making a rim about 2 to 2 ½ inches wide. Carefully return the cheesecake to the oven. Bake for an additional 20 to 25 minutes.
Don’t overbake! The center will “set” as the cheesecake cools.
½ cup sugar
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon orange liqueur
1 ½ cups coconut (not fresh or frozen)
2 egg whites
In a medium saucepan combine the sugar, water and orange liqueur. Cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves.
Remove from the heat. Stir in the coconut. Mix well. Add the unbeaten egg whites. Stir to mix.
NOTE: If you do not have the liqueur or would rather not use it, try substituting fresh orange juice. There will be a slight difference in flavor, but the cheesecake will still delight your tastebuds.