I’ve had sweet potatoes on my mind this week, mostly because I love sweet potato pie at Thanksgiving time. I guess I’m not the only one because as I was walking into the grocery store yesterday to buy food to donate for our Century 21 office, a man was coming out mumbling about, “All I want is some turkey and sweet potato pie. I don’t care if they arrest me for it” Um, yeah. I didn’t want to get any further inside of his head, so I grabbed a cart and shopped on.
I thought to myself, “I want something like sweet potato pie, only better. I want it to be so blissful that I could get arrested for baking it.” I had been letting the recipe ruminate in my head for several days, purchasing what I decided would go into my concoction each time I visited the grocery store. I had the managers searching the aisles for items they didn’t have, and they promised me, “Tuesday.”
Who can wait for Tuesday? I had just made Salted Caramel Pumpkin Flan and there was no stopping me now. I was on a mission. A cheesecake mission. A flan mission. A collision of both flavors in one pan. I decided I would stay up late and get it done.
Note to self: Check yourself when you are on a mission. Maybe it can wait until you are well rested and don’t have a migraine and aren’t holding a 5-year-old frozen Coke can to your head as you bake. Maybe then, you won”t forget to add the eggs.
I did. I forgot. It would have come out better, molded, more stuck together if I had just remembered the eggs. Alas, I didn’t, and it came out delicious anyway. I mean, so good that it may have you using the Lord’s name in vain kind of ecstatically pleasing to the palate. The yelling, “Oh my God, Oh my God, Oh my God!!!” kind of good. The light and fluffy cheesecake flavor with hints of Autumn’s favorite pie spices and chunks of candied ginger to break up the creaminess, and the dark chocolate graham cracker crust that melts away any doubt that it’s an amazing taste. “Oh my God!” And it’s okay, because really it is a miracle cheesecake chocoflan, because well, without eggs, it shouldn’t have held together.
Note to readers: Don’t count on miracles. Add the eggs.
Now, this is not a true chocoflan. Chocoflan is made when you add a layer of chocolate cake batter to a flan mixture. This is the same kind of idea, but I didn’t want cake with my cheesecake. I wanted crust. So, I choco-fied the graham cracker crust, and used coconut palm sugar which added a delightfully more complex flavor. If you are eating gluten-free due to a wheat sensitivity, there are gluten-free graham crackers and graham cracker crumbs out there, but you may have to special order or plan to search the healthy food stores. I used the regular make-it-yourself graham cracker crust mix.
To make this right, you have to invert your thinking. The caramel sauce lines the bottom of the pan and is swished around onto the lower sides, and really, it works better than any stick of butter or oil preparation ever could. When the cheesecake flan is chilled and ready, you simply loosen the edges gently with a butter knife, place a plate over the open end of the bundt pan and carefully turn it over. Tap it once or twice and wait. You will hear a noise like a loss of suction, and your flan should be sitting perfectly in the plate.
The sweet potato cheesecake batter gets poured on top of the caramel sauce. The chocolate graham cracker crust gets carefully spooned on the top, which will eventually wind up the bottom. Be careful not to press down. Just spoon small amounts all over the surface.
Both cheesecake and flan should be cooked in a Baño de Maria, or water bath. The bundt must be fitted into the pan that will hold the water before it is filled with batter. I find it easiest to preheat the oven to 350º, and place the water bath pan in the oven ahead of time. When my bundt pan is ready, I just open the oven, slide out the shelf and place the bundt in the water bath.
Alright already. Enough said. Let’s bake some sweet potato cheesecake chocoflan. Get those eggs ready!
(Serves 8 to 12. Prepare to make this the day before as cooling time is long.)
Caramel Sauce Ingredients:
1/2 cup sugar of choice
1 cone piloncillo
Pink Himalayan Sea Salt from grinder, to taste
1/4 cup water
Cheesecake Flan Ingredients:
2 medium sweet potatoes, cut, sliced in 2″ slices and boiled until soft
1 – 8 oz. package Greek yogurt cream cheese (a Kroger product)
1 – 16 oz. tub good quality Mascarpone cheese
1 1/2 cups coconut palm sugar
1 – 15 oz. can whole fat coconut milk
2 egg yolks (save those whites and make an omelet)
2 tbsp. orange juice
2 tbsp. candied ginger
1 tbsp. vanilla
1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. ground allspice
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. pink Himalayan sea salt from grinder
Graham Cracker Crust Ingredients:
2 cups graham cracker crumbs or 1 box graham cracker crust mix
1 stick good quality preferably organic butter
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
Caramel Sauce Instructions:
1. In a copper or stainless steel skillet, melt the sugar over medium heat, stirring constantly until the liquid starts to bubble but before it comes to a full boil.
2. Turn the heat down to low and continue to stir until the sauce darkens and thickens. Do not stop stirring even if the phone rings or the baby cries because it only takes a second for the sugar to scorch. If it happens, the flavor will be ruined and you must start over. If you keep stirring and cook the sauce too long, it may begin to solidify. You can simply add more water and reheat it until it liquifies again. It will melt in the oven anyway, so a too solid sauce is nothing to fret over.
3. Be sure that the mold or molds you plan to use will fit into a larger glass pan filled 1/3 of the way up with water. This will be the Baño de Maria that will ensure the flan cooks evenly and doesn’t stick to the mold. Prepare the water bath and place it in a 350
4. Pour the caramel sauce in the bottom of the mold or molds you are going to use to cook the flan. Swish the sauce around to cover the bottom evenly and the first third of the sides of the mold(s) evenly.
Sweet Potato Cheesecake Flan Instructions:
1. Cut the sweet potatoes into 1 inch round slices and boil until completely tender. I do not suggest microwaving the potatoes as the texture of the potatoes will change.
2. Drain the potatoes and once cool enough to handle, peel the skins and discard.
3. Place the potatoes in the largest mixing bowl you own. If you don’t have a huge one, you may need to make a purchase.
4. Add the coconut milk, cream cheese, mascarpone cheese, vanilla, orange juice and spices except for the candied ginger, and blend together until smooth.
5. Add one egg at a time and blend until completely combined.
6. Add each yolk one at a time and blend until combined.
7. Add the candied ginger and blend. The ginger will not dissolve so you are simply blending to distribute it evenly.
8. Pour the cheesecake flan batter into the bundt pan that has been coated at the bottom with caramel sauce.
Chocolate Graham Cracker Crust and Baking Instructions:
1. Melt one stick of butter and chocolate chips over low flame, stirring constantly until combined.
2. Remove from the heat source and pour in the graham cracker crumbs. Mix well.
3. Spoon the mixture over the cheesecake flan batter. Use small spoonfuls with a goal in mind to cover as much surface as possible without having to spread the mixture. Spreading will make a mess so don’t do it. Refrain. Hold back. If it isn’t perfectly covered, oh, well.
4. Once the crust has been spooned onto the top of the batter, place the bundt pan in the awaiting water bath on the top shelf of the preheated oven.
5. Bake for 1 1/2 hours or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted somewhere near the middle of the batter (not the pan, the pan has no middle obviously.)
6. Once done, turn off the oven and crack the oven door open. Let the cake rest in the oven for 1 hour. This prevents cracking and falling and all those other interesting things that cakes tend to do.
7. After an hour, let it cool at room temperature for another hour.
8. Refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.
9. Serve with whipped cream drizzled with caramel sauce. Enjoy this ecstatically yummy dessert!