There are two elephants in the room staring at me every time I open the fridge: a six lb block of cream cheese and 2 liters of heavy cream. With an expiration date of March 1st looming, I scoured recipes that would utilize as much heavy cream and cream cheese as possible. There were batches of coconut cupcakes frosted in cream cheese and rugelach made for no specific reason except to use ingredients. Thoughts of making ice cream, risotto and mousse crossed my mind except another ingredient was required, ideas dismissed.
Then another idea popped into my head: cheesecake – not just your typical dense calorie-laden NY cheesecake, but a fluffy Japanese cheesecake. Admittedly I had never heard or tried one until my Mom came back from Japan telling me of this unknown cake that was a cross between cheesecake and a sponge cake. It’s light and fluffy with the faintest taste of cheesecake. I’m sold.
Making the recipe was a laborious process and I even took a 30 minute nap between making the cake and the decorating process. I fought with cookie cutters, cellophane wrappers, white chocolate (ugh), strawberry puree, uncooperative fruit that would fall off whenever I wasn’t looking, mousse, and toothpicks but the results were worth-while: a delicately flavored Japanese cheesecake with a balsamic strawberry white chocolate mousse.
- Use a kitchen scale if you have one. US conversions to be posted soon.
- The best cheesecakes always use a water bath. I use a roasting pan but any pan will work so long as it is oven proof and can fit your cheesecake pan
- If using cookie cutters for making smaller cakes, use only when the cake has completely cooled. Cutting the cake when it is warm will cause slight warping on the edges of the cake.
140z/5 oz. fine granulated sugar
6 egg whites
6 egg yolks
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
50g/2 oz. butter
250g/9 oz. cream cheese
100 ml/3 fluid oz. fresh milk
1 tbs fresh lemon juice
60g/2 oz. cake flour
20g/1 oz. corn starch
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup apricot preserves + 1 tsp of water
Preheat oven to 325F. Melt cream cheese, butter and milk over a double boiler. Cool the mixture. Fold in the flour, the corn starch, egg yolks, lemon juice and mix well.
Prepare the water bath: Heat a large pot of water and bring to a boil. While the water is warming up, in a separate bowl and with clean beaters on low speed, whip egg whites with cream of tartar until foamy. Increase the speed and add in the sugar and whip until soft peaks form. Your water should be boiling by now. Remove from stove and set aside.
Add the cheese mixture to the egg white mixture and mix well. Pour into a 8-inch round cake pan (Lightly grease and line the bottom and sides of the pan with greaseproof baking paper or parchment paper).
If using a spring form pan, it is crucial that you wrap the bottom and outer sides of the pan with aluminum foil. Make sure it is snuggly secured around the bottom and the sides of the pan (I usually use about 4-5 sheets of foil). Wrapping the cheesecake pan in foil prevents water from seeping in. Place the cheesecake into the roasting pan and carefully pour the hot water around the pan. The water should reach up to half the height of the pan. Bake the cheesecake in a water bath for 1 hours 10 minutes (the first 60 minutes at 325F, the remaining 10 minutes at 315F or until the top is golden brown).
Remove from water bath and let cheesecake cool on wire rack. Add apricot preserves and 1 tsp of water in a small microwavable bowl. Heat for 10 seconds, mix, and heat for another 10 seconds, and mix until the preserves have melted and combined with the water. Brush the preserve on the top of the cheesecake.
White Chocolate Balsamic Strawberry Mousse
1 pound of strawberries
2 tsp fresh lemon juice, divided
4 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped
3 tsp sugar, divided
1 tsp balsamic vinegar (use the best quality if available)
1/2 tsp + 1/8 tsp unflavored gelatin
1.25 cups heavy cream
1 Tbsp powdered (confectioner’s) sugar
Place a large metal bowl and beaters in the refrigerator (for preparing the whipping cream).
Clean and hull the strawberries. Starting with about half of the strawberries, quarter them and purée them with 2 tsp sugar and 1 tsp balsamic vinegar in either a blender or food processor. Then press the purée mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl. You want to end up with 1 cup of purée. Stir in 1 tsp of the lemon juice and set aside. With the remaining ½ lb of strawberries, slice the berries and add remaining 1 tsp sugar and 1 tsp balsamic vinegar and 1 tsp lemon juice in a separate bowl. Mix well and set aside.
Melt white chocolate in a double boiler, or a stainless steel bowl set over simmering water (make sure the simmering water doesn’t actually touch the bottom of the bowl.) Stir until smooth, set aside.
Put 1/8 cup of cool water into a separate small bowl. Sprinkle the gelatin powder over the water and let sit for 5 minutes.
Stir ¼ cup of the cream and the 1 tbs of powdered sugar in a small saucepan, bring to a simmer over medium heat. Add the gelatin mixture and stir until the gelatin has dissolved. Pour into the bowl of melted chocolate, and stir until smooth. Whisk in 3/4 cup of the strawberry purée. Reserve the remaining ¼ cup of purée.
Remove cold bowl and beaters from the fridge. Using an electric mixer, whip the remaining 1 cup of cream until medium peaks form. Whisk one third of the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture. Using a large rubber spatula, gently fold the remaining whipped cream into the mixture. Refrigerate for 2-3 hours (overnight preferably).
Before using as cake frosting (or even enjoyed as is), drain any excess liquid from strawberries and mix in remaining strawberries. Drizzle remaining ¼ cup of strawberry puree over mousse or use as plate garnish when serving.