I consider myself a Mounds gal, but that's only because the whole almonds in an Almond Joy are so bulky and incongruent--there's no way to get a bit of almond in each bite unless you a)shove the whole thing in your mouth, or b)pop off the almonds and take a bite of candy bar followed by a nibble of almond. Ridiculous. If slivered or sliced almonds were used instead, I'd be all over it. Take note, Hershey's!
Having said all that, it's no surprise that I used sliced nuts in this Almond Joy-inspired cheesecake. Other magnificent components include a graham cracker crust riddled with coconut (which I consider a complete dessert in and of itself) and a creamy cake bedecked with chocolate chunks, toasted coconut, and a bit of coconut flavoring.
I'll admit that I'm not too keen on the flavor of almonds, but I do love the crunch the slivers provide. The amount of nuts used in this recipe is just right and there's none of that icky almond extract to muck up the flavor. What a relief.
A few days after I made this, I had a Zagnut candy bar for the first time. Zagnut, where have you been all my life? Why do you taste so good and have such an awesome name? Crunchy peanut butter + toasted coconut = amazing. Because of this discovery, I think my next cheesecake endeavor will involve a peanut buttery crust and a purely coconut filling. Oh, yeah.
Not-Too-Almondy Almond Joy Cheesecake
(based on this recipe)
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 1/2 cups sweetened flaked coconut, toasted
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted (about 2 ounces)
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
4 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup sugar
4 large eggs
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut, toasted
1 tablespoon coconut extract
1 cup sliced almonds, toasted
chocolate shavings or drizzle, slivered almonds, toasted coconut
For crust: Preheat oven to 350°F. Wrap outside of 9-inch-diameter springform pan with 2 3/4-inch-high sides with foil. Finely grind cracker crumbs, coconut, almonds and sugar in processor. Add butter; process until moist crumbs form. Press mixture onto bottom and 1 inch up sides of pan. Bake crust until set and beginning to brown, about 12 minutes. Cool. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F.
For filling: Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar in large bowl until smooth. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition. Mix in coconut and extract . Fold in almonds. Transfer filling to crust. Bake until cake is puffed and no longer moves when pan is shaken, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Cool completely on rack.
Run small knife around sides of cake to loosen. Release pan sides. Sprinkle with garnishes before serving, if desired.