The Chocolate Cheesecake Recipe RHONJ’s Kathy Wakile Calls Her ‘Favorite’
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Kathy Wakile may be surrounded by drama on Bravo’s Real Housewives of New Jersey, but off camera, it’s all sugary sweet.
Since joining the cast on the show’s third season, the reality star has used her television fame to leverage the launch of her own line of desserts, as well as a cookbook, Indulge: Delicious Little Desserts That Keep Life Real Sweet.
When it comes to choosing a favorite sweet treat, though, she’s like a kid in a candy store who can’t decide.
“It’s kinda like asking which one of my kids is my favorite, you know? I’ve created them all,” Wakile tells PEOPLE. “But, I have to say the cheesecake.”
Here, she shares her recipe for Almond Joyous Cheesecake Cuties, a twist on the classic Almond Joy candy bar.
Bonus points: they’re gluten-free.
Kathy Wakile’s Almond Joyous Cheesecake Cuties
2 egg whites
¼ cup granulated sugar
2 cups sweetened coconut flakes
½ cup sour cream
3 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. almond extract
¼ cup almonds, toasted and chopped
2 8-oz. packages cream cheese, at room temperature
½ cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
3 tbsp. sour cream
3 tbsp. heavy cream
1 tsp. almond extract
2 tsp. coconut extract
8 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
¼ cup heavy cream
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
*Skip this step by simply drizzling with melted chocolate at the end.
Sliced almonds, whipped cream, and thyme sprig, for garnish
Two 12-cavity mini cheesecake pans
1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Position one rack in the center of the oven and another rack positioned at the bottom of the oven. Fill a roasting pan with about 2 inches of water and set it on the bottom rack.
2. For the crust: In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat egg whites and sugar on medium speed until very stiff peaks form. Fold in the coconut until well combined. Scoop about 1 tablespoon of the mixture into each cavity in the mini cheesecake pan and compress into an even layer. Set on rimmed baking sheets.
3. For the topping: In a small bowl, stir together sour cream, sugar, and almond extract. Set aside.
4. For the filling: Wipe out the bowl of the electric mixer and add cream cheese and sugar. Beat at medium speed until smooth and creamy. Beat in eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Add the sour cream, heavy cream, almond extract, and coconut extract; beat until smooth. Divide the filling equally among the cheesecake pans, with each coming a little over ¾ of the way up the pan.
5. Bake for 7 minutes, then lower the temperature to 250˚F and bake 10-12 more minutes or just until the surfaces of the cuties are set at the outer edges but still wobbly in the center. (Keep a close eye on them!)
6. Take the pans out of the oven and divide the almond topping among the cakes, spreading into an even layer. Top with the chopped almonds, then return the pans to the oven and bake for an additional 7 minutes (they’ll still look wet, but they will set as they cool). Let the cakes cool in the pans for 3 to 5 minutes, then run the tip of a sharp knife around the top edge of each cake. Let cool in the pans until room temperature, at least 30 minutes. Transfer to refrigerator to chill in pans for 2 hours before unfolding.
7. Carefully unmold the cuties by pressing the little round disk underneath each cake upward to raise the cake so that its bottom is level with the pan rim, then slide a small spatula underneath the cake.
8. Make the ganache: Combine all ingredients in a small heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
9. To coat with ganache, arrange the unmolded cheesecakes on a wire rack on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Carefully apply a thin layer of ganache to the tops and sides of each cutie. Let dry, then go over the cheesecakes again to smooth out, working from the top first and then down around the sides (dipping the spatula or knife in hot water and wiping dry periodically will also help keep the ganache smooth).
10. Refrigerate 6 hours overnight before serving and garnish with sliced almonds, whipped cream, and thyme.