Nathaniel, “Than”, was the inspiration for intense experimentation with the recipe for Uncle Howard’s Chocolate Ganache Tart. I made variations and he ate most of every flavor we tried (vanilla, cinnamon, espresso, orange, peanut butter, maple, almond ….) A LOT of Ganache Tart! Other friends and family helped, but Than’s appetite for avocado “pie” was happily insatiable. In an effort to expand on the theme, and in his honor: “Uncle Than’s Key Lime Cheesecake.” It has the body of old fashioned Italian Ricotta Cheesecake, richness of the ganache tart, and the brightness of fresh citrus: an excellent and satisfying combination. The recipe calls for coconut flour. It’s high in fiber, low in fat, and has a lot of protein and wonderful flavor. Once you have a package in your pantry, you’ll look for other ways to use it (smoothies!) Substituting more than 20% of your GF flour mix with coconut flour can be problematic because it absorbs so much moisture. Experiment – you’ll figure it out!
Make this dessert within 6 hours serving because the Omega-3 fatty acids start to break down with exposure to oxygen, causing the top to slightly discolor (despite the use of lots of citrus!) The coconut macadamia nut topping mitigates this. Another alternative is to make the filling, chill it in a large pastry tube, and pipe it into individual glasses or ramekins prepped with a layer of crust just before serving.
Uncle Than’s Key Lime Cheesecake
8 oz. macadamia nuts
6 oz. pitted dates
Generous pinch of sea salt
4 ripe avocados (not too firm, but not too soft either – one wants nice green fruit)
3/4 cup (6 ounces) fresh squeezed Key Lime juice (regular limes are fine, but Key Limes have a distinctive and slightly sweeter taste)
1/2 cup coconut flour (Bob’s Red Mill or Let’s Do Organic: http://www.edwardandsons.com/.)
1/3 cup agave syrup or honey (more or less depending on desired sweetness – remember the crust will be very sweet)
4 tablespoons coconut oil
2 teaspoons packed freshly grated lime zest (take care not to grate too deeply into the white pith – use organic limes, especially when a recipe calls for using the peel)
4 ounces macadamia nuts
4 ounces lightly toasted coconut
1. Using a food processor, blend the macadamia nuts and dates until it just comes together as “dough”. Press into the bottom of a 9″ tart or spring-form pan. Set aside.
2. Blend the avocados , agave, coconut oil, and half the lime juice in a food processor. Puree the mixture to within an inch of its life. You want this to be free of even the smallest chunks of avocado.
3. Add the coconut flour and the rest of the lime juice, pulse a few times, scrape down, and process for 30 seconds, or until fully incorporated. The coconut flour will absorb moisture fairly quickly, creating the “ricotta” body.
4. Spoon the lime “cheesecake” mixture into the pan prepared with the crust.
5. In a food processor, pulse the macadamia nuts for the topping until fine. Add the coconut and pulse again for a few seconds. The two ingredients should be well blended, but the pieces of coconut should remain larger than the bits of macadamia.
6. Distribute the topping evenly over the cheesecake to cover completely, press gently to create a layer that is going to help prevent the avocado from discoloring. Chill for 1-3 hours.
Note: If you make individual servings, increase your crust ingredients by 10 – 15% so you’ll have a little extra left over to make a decorative leaf or sphere for the top (see photo gallery.) Macadamia-Date paste leaves are a pretty way to decorate a whole cake too. Roll or pat out the paste on waxed paper, cut shapes with a knife or leaf shaped cookie cutter and transfer with a small spatula to the top of the cake.