Risen To The Occasion, Have I? No
In an irresistible, weak moment that mango was to my eyes, the forbidden fruit. I wanted paradise. After almost 20 minutes deciding on whether to just dig into that juicy goodness of a fruit or else dice and pulp it up for my cheesecake, the mango won alright. And the drama that unfolded right here in the kitchen! I was all set to peel the mangoes and split open the passion fruits, but then something about that mango made me swallow down a big gulp of saliva. So sunny and squishy to the touch, it yielded to soft, gentle pressure. The ripest smells oozing out from every inch of its skin taunted my nostrils. I sliced a peel off. For a moment I thought, looking at that flesh inside, do I feel the same anymore? I decided to have a taste of it and carved my teeth across the length of the peeled skin, scooping off all the flesh that was on it. Sunny heaven stuck to the insides of my front teeth. I slowly moved it onto my tongue and then chewed on as millions of fruit molecules exploded in my mouth. Five minutes later, I found the mango no more in a condition to give the passion fruits company in their journey to cheesecake heaven. That's the story.
So as the mango was through with, I had to come up with something to bake, and so I thought of a Japanese style Souffléd Cheesecake. Wait, souffléd? Yes. So if you call fallen soufflés a disaster, this was one big disaster. If you can call a barely fluffy, yet soft-as-heaven-in-your-mouth soufflé cheesecake a success, this is so much a success too. Except the fallen part, it had everything. But hey, a fallen soufflé is a fallen soufflé. Maybe I can excuse myself by showing you how the Charles law states that 'what must go up must come down'. And that is my big fat excuse number 1. Here comes the rest of the excuses for not getting a huge, fluffy, angel food cake-kind cheesecake soufflé.
2. My thoughts strayed a lot.
3. I was too engrossed in staring at the puffed up goodness.
4. It did not strike me that the inevitable fall would be so sudden.
5. I am sure a shot of cold air swept into the oven because I am such a shameless peeping mary.
6. I was too over confident.
7. I was full of vengeance towards the mango for spoiling my cheesecake plans.
8. All I wanted was to eat.
9. My discoing went a little too far.
Here's what you can do so you'd never have to write a list of excuses.
- Patience is the key. No peeping. If it's that hard, try tying up your hands while the cake bakes.
- Sieve the cream cheese batter to make it lump free. It just makes the batter more smooth.
- Bain-Marie. Water bath helps with the cracks, helps with the consistency.
- Keep the effin' cake in the oven for another 30 minutes. Then take it out of the pan onto a wire rack to cool.
- Have one good recipe. That is less headache than 10 recipes that you're gonna mix and mash.
- If it is two in the morning, and you are itching to bake, try to fight it by all means. If you want to get into serious midnight baking, somewhere around 11.45 is best to start.
- Much-needed unshaken optimism over your batter.
*Mental note to myself so as to avoid awkward-angled shots in the future* - When you are making a soufflé, know that you are making a soufflé. And time your shots in such a way that people only see the heavenly puffiness, not a shrunken mess!
So this Japanese cheesecake takes pride in being very light and fluffy, just like his French sister [gender mentions are unintentional], only that French ones use Neufchatel cheese and some amount of flour (for stability) while the Japanese ones incorporate an egg-white meringue mix into the cheese batter. How it differs from the New York version is the texture. Rich and dense New York cheesecake or Fluffy and light Japanese cheesecake? Both are delicious in its own way, just depends on how you like your cheesecake.
There might be different claims as to who actually pioneered the Original Japanese Cheesecake. Some stories talk about a certain Tomotaro Kuzuno and his fascination with the Käsekuchen (the German cheesecake that uses Quark) during his trip to Berlin, which eventually made him bring cheesecake to Japan.
The Japanese Cheesecake is a beautiful dovetailing of the cheesecake and the soufflé - an angels-meet-fairies world I imagine. Rich and dense cheesecake haters [and you shall be damned for that] can sink their teeth into this wonderfully light and cotton-soft cake that's straight from the heavens. Hmm... this should be what angels have for dessert.
I give you the cheesy cheesecake song before the recipe :: An 80's dance hit version from Lipps Inc.'s 1974 song called How Long?
Recipe below is a modified version from a Japanese cook book.
- 225 g cream cheese (at room temperature)
- 45 g butter
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1/2 cup superfine castor sugar
- 3 large egg yolks
- 3 tbsp cornstarch
- 3 large egg whites
- 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1 tbsp lemon zest
- 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 160°C.
In a large bowl, melt the butter over a double boiler. Add the cream cheese, whisk well to combine until the cheese and butter melts. In another bowl, combine the egg yolks and the sugar. Mix in sifted cornstarch. Heat the milk so it comes to a boil. Add it to the egg yolks and whisk until it thickens in a double boiler over boiling water. Pour in this mixture into to the cream cheese mix and combine well. Add in lemon zest and juice.
Beat egg whites with cream of tartar on medium low speed until foamy. Gradually add in sugar to the egg whites and beat on medium until soft peaks form.
Add in ¼ of the meringue to the cream cheese mixture and combine. Now fold in the remaining meringue into the cream cheese mixture, taking care not to lose the airiness.
Butter the sides and base of the baking pan and line with some baking paper. Pour in the batter and smoothen the top with a spatula. Put the baking pan into a bain-marie if you have the facilities. Fill the bain-marie with boiled water and place into preheated oven and bake for 50 minutes. Turn off the oven and leave it in for another 30 minutes, door ajar.
Take the cake out from the pan, place on a wire rack to cool completely [if you leave it in the pan to cool, the top will shrink and crumble]. Leave to cool in a fridge, overnight. Serve cold if you wish, or warm it up and serve.