Saturday, February 6, 2010


I debated with myself a lot on whether or not to share this dessert. Its not that I have some personal interest in keeping the recipe secret, I just think the final plate ended up a less-then-perfect specimen of a plated dessert. Normally in this case, I would just forget about it and wait until I had something worth posting, but after some reflection, I have decided that there were strong elements about the dessert that I liked and which were worth sharing.
Tofu Cheesecake

As I have mentioned before, I don’t really like cheesecake. Blasphemy to many, I know. Get over it. Of course, I understand that other people like it, so from time to time I will throw one out there. Given this most recent cheesecake episode, I’m almost inclined to think that as long as you call it cheesecake, it doesn’t matter how ill-fashioned the dessert is: people fall on it like a pack of hungry wolves. It could taste like sawdust, and most people wouldn’t say a thing about it. After all, its cheesecake. How could it be bad? Not an inspiring thought.

I received, as either a Christmas or birthday gift, The Sweet Spot by Pichet Ong. It’s a book that I highly recommend, especially for anyone trying to make desserts in a sushi restaurant. While not limited only to Japanese sweets, it is a book of sweets, from cookies to custards, which have Asian influenced flavors and techniques. It was here that I was first introduced to the Tofu Cheesecake.

Tofu Cheesecake

As Pichet explains, Cheesecake is becoming almost as popular to the Japanese as it is to Americans. Presumably, someone Japanese cook discovered that by replacing the heavy cream cheese with tofu, the cheesecake could be made lighter. “Over time,” Ong explains “it has become something of a nouveau national dessert in Japan. The dairy-free, no-bake cheesecakes and perfect for a mostly lactose-intolerant population who, for the most part, don’t have ovens.”

Tofu Cheesecake adapted from Pichet Ong

Yield: ~1 9-inch cheesecake, or 10 individual ones

19oz silken tofu

2t Yuzu juice*

4oz Heavy cream

1t salt

5 sheets or 2¼t gelatin

2oz water

12oz cream cheese, room temperature

5½ oz sugar

*Lemon juice can be substituted for yuzu

1) Place tofu and yuzu in blander and blend until smooth

2) Hydrate gelatin in the water

3) Combine cream and salt, and scald

4) Add gelatin to cream and stir to dissolve. Combine with tofu mixture

5) Add cream and sugar to an electric mixer with paddle attachment and cream until light and fluffy

6) Slowly incorporate the tofu/cream mixture until homogenous

7) Pour over prepared crust or into individually prepared ring molds

As you can see, the recipe still calls for cream cheese because it really isn’t cheesecake without that dense, tangy richness. As it is, it tastes like tofu… but in a good way.

Tofu Cheesecake

I took the plain tofu cheesecake base, and poured it into ring molds and deposited a round of ganache in the bottom. Instead of the standard graham cracker crust (which I hate), I decided to do something a little different by sitting the cheesecake atop a cocoa nib crumble. To add a citrus pop, I topped the cheesecake with some basil seeds hydrated in sweetened yuzu juice. Lastly, the quintessential strawberries, this time in the form of strawberry pearls.

As I said, most of the components were delicious, but the plate was amateur. It looked a little jumbled together. If I were to do it again, I would probably change a few things:

1) The cheesecakes should have been molded and tamped better, to remove the air bubbles. It might not seem like a big deal, but it is.

2) Get rid of the basil seeds. I love basil seeds, but this was the wrong application.

3) Crumble the “crust” into smaller pieces, so that the cheesecake would stay level.

4) Change the plating… it looks messy

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