There are about 18 different types of cheesecakes in the world. Not flavors, but actual types of cheesecakes and how they are made. Yes, 18. That’s what wikipedia is telling me, anyway. Mostly they differentiate by region – by the flavor of compote that is put on top of the cheesecake. Or they are refrigerated, rather than baked. But while I happened to be on the wiki page for cheesecake, the Japanese description caught my eye: “smooth flan-like texture and almost plasticine appearance.” What an amazingly delicious sounding and totally weird cheesecake! I started looking up recipes.
Japanese cheesecakes does use cream cheese. And like most American cheesecakes, it is baked, not refrigerated. And it uses a lot of eggs. But boy, that is where the similarities of the two versions end. The Japanese version is light and fluffy and almost has a steamed texture to it. It’s quite delightful, actually, but it lacks the traditional cheesecake quality of tasting like, well, cheese. In fact, my mom, a lover of all things cheese and all things cake, especially when they are put together, said that this was even more delicious when you don’t call it a cheesecake. Awesome (and so truthful!).
Do not let any of this deter you from making this, though! In fact, let it be encouragement to make it as soon as possible! It’s quite lovely in its own right. It’s creamier than a chiffon cake, but still has the airiness quality of one. And hello, wiki said it’s “flan-like,” which completely sold me. And wiki is always right.
Japanese Cheesecake (adapted from here)
6 large eggs, separated
140 grams sugar
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
50 grams butter
250 grams cream cheese
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
zest of one lemon
60 grams cake flour
20 gram corn starch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1. Preheat oven to 320 degrees. Grease a 9 inch round springform pan. Line the outside with aluminum foil.
2. Over a double boiler, melt together butter, cream cheese and milk until completely smooth. Set aside to cool.
3. In a clean bowl, beat egg whites until foamy. Add cream of tartar and continue to beat on medium speed. As you see soft peaks forming, slowly pour in the sugar until the egg whites are light and fluffy and hold their own shape.
4. To the cooled cream cheese mixture, whisk in egg yolks, vanilla and lemon zest. Fold in all of the dry ingredients until they are completely incorporated into the cream cheese mixture.
5. Working in batches, fold in the egg whites to the cream cheese mixture, being careful not to deflate the egg whites. When all of the egg whites are incorporated, pour into the prepared pan.
6. Fill a separate 9×13 baking pan halfway with water. Place the cheesecake in the center rack of the oven. Place the 9×13 pan on the rack below, to create a water bath.
7. Bake cheesecake for 70 minutes, until a toothpick tester comes out clean. Let cool completely. Serve at room temperature or cold with strawberry sauce.
Strawberry Sauce (recipe from Smitten Kitchen)
2 cups strawberries, rinsed and cut into big piece
3 tablespoons sugar
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup water
1. Blend everything together until smooth. Strain to take out seeds. Serve cold or room temperature with cheesecake.