Chizukeki: Japanese Cheesecake

"I'm sorry, did you say cheesecake?" I did indeed.

Traditionally speaking, at least from a western standpoint, Japan is not known for its desserts. Many of them are adzuki bean based, and though that is much better than it sounds, it's still hard to get your mouth watering if you didn't grow up eating them. I think its the texture. Anyway, I don't mean to bash Japanese desserts, they are really rather good, if sort of an acquired taste for Americans. 

That being said, the Japanese have many versions of western sweets that are really fantastic. You might have had green tea ice cream at a restaurant or maybe you've been lucky enough to try Japanese sponge cake with whipped cream and strawberries. These Japanized desserts are becoming very popular with lots of specialty bakeries popping up all over Japan. Generally they have far less ingredients than their counterparts of the west and have light flavors and delicate textures. There are lots of different recipes out there for these fusion sweets, so if you don't like beans, don't let it discourage you from making your cake and eating it too. 

My introduction to Japanese cheesecake was when my mother stumble upon the recipe on Knowing that I love cheesecake, and Japan, she printed it out and gave it to me. At the time I wasn't cooking a lot, so I stuck it to my fridge for a later date. I have moved twice since then and still have managed to keep it saved under my "I <3 Books" magnet. A few days ago when it was grey and rainy, and I was feeling a little blue, I took the recipe down and realized I had all the ingredients on hand. The spirits of cooking were on my side.

The recipe was very simple. The main difference between the traditional cheesecakes I've made in the past was the whipping of the egg whites into a meringue. Obviously, this had the effect of making a wonderful light texture. There is also the addition of flower and cornstarch which make it more cake like. The most wonderful thing was that the top didn't crack, which makes me so happy. It's more common to see a Japanese cheesecake served plain, but I had about ten million frozen blueberries to hand, so I made a sauce to go with it. 

My family and I are devotees of The Great British Baking Show. The last couple of weeks we've watched the new season with watering mouth and not so much as a tin of digestive biscuits in the house. So of course the one time that we have a delicious dessert on hand, it's bread week. Nonetheless, this was an amazing cake. I can best describe it as a cross between cheesecake and angel food cake. The flavor was mild and it was so light and spongy. 

I think that you should make this cake and have some friends over for afternoon tea. Or alternatively you can make it in secret and have it all to yourself, I won't judge you. You should also check out some other Japanized western sweets, I think you'll find them a wonderful twist on old favorites. 

Until next time, give your sweet tooth a little treat and keep up the good work!

The spirits of cooking may have been on my side but the spirits of filming had taken the day off. Sadly I made some serious booboos with my video (I got bamboozled by the pause button). I think I managed to edit it so it wouldn't look too bad, but you might notice that some magical moments of sudden egg whipping and other culinary miracles happen. Forgive me, I am only human.