My generation has climbed many a mango and guava tree. Scraped knees and elbows were easily forgotten while biting into tangy, raw guavas hastily wiped on dusty tee shirts and frocks. A sprinkling of salt on the hard, sour flesh gave us puckered lips amid noisy smacking of tongues. Sometimes if we got lucky, our haul would include more ripe fruits than raw ones. White or red inside with crunchy seeds that stuck in our molars, guavas somehow seemed sweeter when we worked hard aiming our sticks and stone missiles at fruit hiding in the trees.
On hot afternoons, when our parents succumbed to their siesta, a few of us explored the neighbours’ gardens for fruit-laden guava trees. I recall a tree that stood beside an overhead water tank in our yard. Its grey top was my perch while I leaned over trying to grab the branches with fruit, that always seemed to be further away than the others. I was reminded of the guilty pleasure of enjoying stolen fruit, when a goodie bag sent by a friend in Brazil revealed a box of ruby-red preserved guava or goibada. Sweet in a way that only tropical fruits can be, it stirred up memories of those simple joys.
I wanted to do something special with the goibada; its firm jelly-like texture felt like once melted, it would make a great topping for a cold cheesecake . So I gave it a go. And while on the whole tropical trip, coconut seemed like a perfect companion to guava. a coconut and guava cheesecake it would be. I had a recipe for Coconut Cheesecake With Guava Sauce by Leticia Shwartz that had been on my to-do list for sometime. But I chose to use her recipe only as an inspiration and changed a quite few things.
The goibada was quite firm and intensely flavoured, so as a topping it would do nicely with the mildly sweet and creamy coconut cheesecake. Pulpy guava juice or puréed and sieved fresh guava would work too. To keep it simple and cut down on a few calories, I left out the cream and sour cream completely and opted for low-fat cream cheese instead. And as far as experiments go, this one could not have yielded better results. Just about firm, the creamy texture compliments the gentle sweetness of the coconut and the intense guava bursts moments later with its flamboyantly rich flavour. It makes an impressive dessert for a summer dinner party.
Coconut And Guava Cheesecake
For the crust
- 300 g crushed digestive biscuits
- 80 g finely grated fresh or dessicated coconut
- 1 tsp sugar
- 85 g unsalted butter melted and cooled
For the coconut filling
- 375 g low-fat cream cheese
- 130 ml condensed milk
- 180 ml coconut milk
- 2 tsp powdered gelatin
- 1 tbsp Malibu rum
- 125 g grated coconut
For the guava topping
- 2 tsp gelatin
- 500 ml guava pulp sieved to remove all seeds or 400 ml thick guava juice
- 125 g sugar
- 2-3 tsps fresh lemon juice
- Preheat the oven to 80 degrees C.
- Combine biscuit crumbs, grated coconut, sugar and melted butter in a food processor so that they form a homogeneous mixture. Press this mixture into a 10" springform pan to form a layer of uniform thickness, bake for 10 minutes in the oven and cool on a rack.
- To prepare the filling, sprinkle the gelatin over the coconut milk in a saucepan, mix and set aside for 7-10 minutes.
- In a saucepan, gently heat cream cheese and condensed milk to a low simmer till combined. Pour into a big bowl.
- Now very very slowly warm the gelatin and coconut milk but be very careful NOT TO BOIL. Pour into the cream cheese mixture, whisk to combine and allow to cool for a few minutes.
- Add the grated coconut and rum and pour the filling over the cooled base. Level with a spatula and chill in the fridge till set.
- To make the topping, mix sugar, guava pulp/juice till the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and cool for a few minutes till it just warm. Whisk in the gelatin and cool.
- Once the cheesecake has set for a couple of hours, pour the cooled topping evenly over and chill for a couple of hours or even overnight to set.
- Remove the cheesecake from the fridge about 20 minutes before you serve.