I ate my first slice of cheesecake when I was a teenager living in Bombay (Mumbai). My cousin Gordon and his family were visiting from Toronto and they had given my mum a box of Lemon Cheesecake to make – yes, the packet variety.
Now, cheesecake was not something you could find in a patisserie 20-odd years ago in Bombay. I had never tasted anything like it before: a crumbly base topped with a rich, creamy filling. It was love at first bite.
So when I moved to Australia, I ate my way through every cheesecake I could find, one delicious slice at a time.
Some made with ricotta; others with cream cheese; some baked, others set in the fridge; some with a nutty crust, others had a biscuit base; some drizzled with a berry glaze, others with Nutella swirled through…
The possibilities. Oh, the tantalising possibilities.
Of course, it was too much of a good thing. Cheesecake fatigue set in. I imposed a moratorium on all things cheesecake and hadn’t eaten cheesecake in years.
Until this video popped up on my Facebook feed. I’ve been salivating ever since.
The lovely lady Ochikeron had uploaded this YouTube video of her Japanese Cotton Cheesecake a couple of years ago, but it’s suddenly gone viral now. I had to make it.
Serves 4-6 people.
3 eggs, separated
120 g (¾ cup) cooking chocolate – white or dark
120 g (½ cup) cream cheese, softened
Icing sugar for dusting on top, optional
A 15cm (6-inch) baking tin
Preheat your oven to 170°C (340°F).
Grease and line a small baking tin with baking paper. Put a longer strip of baking paper so that you can lift the cake out easily once baked (see pic below).
Note 1: this is a very small cake, so do not use a large pan. Make sure the baking paper forms a tall collar around your baking tin as the cake batter will rise like a soufflé.
Note 2: The original recipe uses white chocolate; I made it, plus another version using dark chocolate. The kids preferred the white choc version – it’s sweeter, after all.
Separate the eggs. Whisk the whites to stiff peaks in a large bowl using an electric mixer or a whisk. Set aside the yolks.
Melt the white (or dark) chocolate. You can do this either by heating the choc in a double boiler until it melts or nuking the chocolate in 20-second bursts in your microwave on a very low power setting (50% or less). You need to stir the chocolate with a spatula after each burst in the micro. Do not be tempted to nuke the chocolate on high power as chocolate burns easily.
Add the cream cheese to this and mix well, either with a spatula or with an electric hand mixer. Set aside to cool.
Add the egg yolks to the cooled white chocolate mixture and mix again.
Now add 1/3rd of the egg whites to the cake batter and mix. Slowly add the rest. Do not overmix. Pour the batter into the prepared tin. Bang the tin down on your kitchen counter to release any air bubbles.
You need to bake your cheesecake in a waterbath so that it doesn’t crack. Do this by placing a large baking tray/roasting rack in your pre-heated oven. Place your cake pan in the centre. Fill the roasting pan with about 2-4cm of hot water.
While the original recipe asks you to bake the cake at different temperatures for different durations, I decided to wing it by baking it at 170°C throughout – and it worked perfectly well.
So bake the cheesecake for 30-40 minutes and then turn off the oven. Leave the cake to rest inside for another 15-20 minutes. Take it out and allow the cheesecake to cool on a wire rack. Dust with icing sugar. You can refrigerate the cake but let it come to room temperature before serving.
Grab your dessert fork!
I’m all for quick and easy recipes, so this one’s a winner. At first, I was sceptical that it would amount to anything tasty, so this was a treat. Also, my fears about it being too eggy were unfounded thanks to the chocolate.
I’m definitely going to experiment with this recipe – perhaps double the quantities (it is a very tiny cake) and play with the flavours (some grated orange zest for the dark chocolate version or lavender for the white choc one).
So tell me, what’s your favourite kind of cake? Did you like a particular cake as a kid? Do you ever use cake mix that comes in a box?