Monday, December 16, 2013

Japanese Cheesecake

Hey everyone! I'm in the middle of finals week right now, which I always find to be a surprising calming time of the semester. There's no homework, extracurriculars have ended, so all that's left to do is study for four tests scattered over the course of a week. And if you've been going to class and paying attention, they're really not that bad. But that's just my opinion, feel free to disagree with me. 

Unfortunately, going home for break means I have to defrost my fridge. Always a pain. Since I don't want to throw anything away, I have to figure out how to use the odd ingredients hanging around. I'll probably end up making a bunch of pancakes later to finish off the milk and eggs. 

I'd been holding on to a block of cream cheese for quite some time, waiting and never coming across the right recipe. But now, it's crunch time! I decided to make a Japanese cheesecake. This is probably not like the cheesecake you are used to–it's closer to a cake called Castella. Though Castella (Kasutera/カステラ is now a special of Nagasaki, the cake was originally introduced to Japan by Portuguese merchants in the 16th century. I'm not sure if the terms Castella and Japanese cheesecake are interchangeable, but if you do, let me know! Anyway, this cheesecake is really simple, super light and fluffy, and gluten free! Give it a try :) 

Japanese Cheesecake 

7 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup whole milk
1/2 cup superfine sugar (I used normal granulated, it was fine)
3 eggs, separated
1/4 cup cornstarch (DON'T use flour)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray a 9-inch cake tin with cooking spray. I used 3, 3" heart springform pans. I recommend a springform pan if you have one.

Make sure your beaters and bowl are really clean for this. Beat egg whites until foamy. Gradually add remaining sugar and cream of tartar, beating on high speed until soft peaks form, about 8-10 minutes.
 In another bowl, beat cream cheese with milk to soften. Add half of the sugar, egg yolks, cornstarch and lemon juice. Beat until smooth. Gradually fold beaten egg whites into the cream cheese mixture, stirring gently.

Pour into cake pan and smooth the surface. Place cake pan into a larger roasting pan and place in lower rack of oven. Pour enough water into the roasting pan to come half way up the side of the cake pan. Bake 35-40 minutes, until a pick inserted in the middle of the center comes out clean.

If the surface becomes too dark while baking cover with a piece of tin foil, but be careful not to open the oven door until it has been in the oven for at least 20 minutes.

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