Judging by the popularity of Pocky and the way anime fans seem to adore Japanese goodies, I think it’s safe to say that Japanese sweets are gaining a foothold here in America. Believe it or not the Japanese have an extensive tradition in sweets dating as far back as 300 B.C. Truly Japanese sweets are called wagashi and have their origins in Japanese traditions while Western inspired sweets are called yogashi.
Japanese desserts – like most Japanese main courses – are fairly light. Although sugar is used in Japanese desserts, it’s usually not refined white sugar. A while back I needed a dessert to bring to a Japanese themed potluck. I immediately thought of cheesecake because it just screams summer, but I knew that I wasn’t going to kill my friends by bringing a chemical laden cheesecake from a box.
So I hopped online and perused traditional Western cheesecake recipes. Dear god, the amount of cream cheese and eggs used in those recipes was enough to clog even the healthiest of arteries. Since I was hoping for something Japanese (I was going to make the cheesecake a lychee cheesecake to give it an “Asian” flavor) I searched for Japanese desserts and looky-looky, I found a Japanese cheesecake recipe!
Most cheesecakes on the market are like bricks of lard and are so rich that you want to hurl after one high caloric piece. This recipe has a fraction of the sugar, cream cheese and eggs than most cheesecake recipes but it has a rich yet light texture. It’s also more labor intense than most cheesecake recipes but it’s 100% worth the effort.
- 7 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1/4 cup whole milk
- 1/2 cup superfine sugar (caster sugar aka baker’s sugar) This should be next to the rest of the sugars in a well stocked super market
- 3 eggs, separated
- 1/4 cup cornstarch (don’t use flour!!)
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 2 1/2 cups boiling water
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Spray a 9-inch cake tin with cooking oil spray.
- Beat cream cheese with milk to soften.
- Add half of the sugar, all the egg yolks, all the cornstarch and all the lemon juice to the beaten cream cheese.
- Beat until smooth.
- Beat egg whites separately in a medium sized bowl until foamy. Do NOT let any grease get in the eggs whites or you’re screwed and by screwed I mean your egg whites will fail to get fluffy and peak!
- Gradually add the remaining sugar and all of the cream of tartar to the egg whites, beating on high speed until soft peaks form, about 8-10 minutes. This may seem excessive but you must get those peaks!
- Gradually fold beaten egg whites into the cream cheese mixture, stirring gently. DO NOT BEAT them into the mixture.
- Pour into cake pan and smooth the surface.
- Place cake pan into a larger roasting pan and place in lower rack of oven.
- Pour enough of the boiling water into the roasting pan to come half way up the side of the cake pan.
- Bake 35-40 minutes or until a pick inserted in the middle of the center comes out clean.
- If the surface becomes too dark while baking cover with a piece of tin foil, but be careful not to open the oven door until it has been in the oven for at least 20 minutes.
- If you can, let the cheese cake (which is a soufflé in disguise) gradually cool for one hour in the oven with the oven turned off.
- If you like, you can treat the cheesecake like its Western counterparts and spread some fruit filling on top of it. (I don’t recommend lychee as it overwhelms the cheesecake).
Japanese cheesecake is a very light, fluffy, not too sweet cheesecake with a very cheesecake-y flavour.
I like this recipe because it’s:
- Not as fattening as Western versions
- Has a rich, full flavour without being too rich
- Fluffy, and yet it’s a cheesecake…
I disliked this recipe because it’s:
- Labor intensive and time consuming
- The original instructions were confusing (hopefully I fixed that)
All in all, this recipe rocked, try it and lemme know how it turned out for you.
Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult Time: About one hour Ingredient Availability: Very Easy