I’ve had a lot of adventures with baked goods–the time I strapped chocolate mousse cups on the back of my bike, the (many) times I’ve pulled half-assembled cakes out of my bike bag at work, the cakes on a plane–but this weekend saw a new first: coat-checked cheesecake.
This cheesecake accompanied my friend’s birthday party from bar to train to dance club with us, where the utter confusion on the face of the bouncer sort of made my night.
“Uh, what’s that?”
“Cheesecake! It’s her birthday!”
My friends were shocked that the cheesecake made it inside, then even more surprised when I successfully coat-checked it. This teaches us a valuable lesson: if you refuse to acknowledge that bringing ridiculous baked goods into inappropriate locations is strange, it becomes totally fine.
Totally fine, guys. Not weird at all.
But seriously, it’s hard to be mad about this cheesecake, even when it’s making things awkward. It started as a joke on a coworker who can be trusted to suggest yuzu as a flavor for just about anything. (I didn’t know what it was before I started working here–it’s an East Asian citrus with an admittedly delicious sweet/sour flavor, but come on Frederik.) Pick up the juice and the black sesame paste for the crust at an Asian grocery store, or substitute tahini and orange juice/cashew butter and lime juice/whatever your heart desires.
One more thing and then I promise there’s a recipe. This cheesecake isn’t the dense, heavy dessert that you think you know: it gets whipped egg whites folded in at the very end, making it like a cross between cheesecake and mousse. If that doesn’t sound like the greatest thing you’ve ever heard, we probably can’t be friends.
- 1½ c. (6 oz) digestive cookie or graham cracker crumbs
- 4 T (2 oz) butter, melted
- 4 t (1 oz) black sesame paste
- 3 T (1.5 oz) sugar
- 4 eggs, separated
- ¾ c + 2 T (6 oz) sugar, separated
- 3 blocks (1½ lb) cream cheese
- 1 t ginger, grated
- ½ c (4 fl oz) yuzu juice
- Make the crust: Preheat the oven to 350 F.
- Mix together the crumbs, butter, sesame paste, and sugar. Press into an even layer on the bottom of a springform pan. Bake for 10 minutes, until the edges are just starting to brown and you can smell the sesame. Let the oven cool to 200 F.
- Make the filling: Using the whisk attachment of a stand mixer, whip the egg whites and 2 T (1 oz) sugar to medium peaks. Transfer to a clean bowl and set aside.
- Switch to the paddle attachment and beat the egg yolks, ¾ c (5 oz) sugar, cream cheese, and ginger until very smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the yuzu juice and continue to mix until it comes together.
- Using a spatula, gently fold in the whipped egg whites.
- Pour into the prepared crust. Bake at 200 F for 75-90 minutes, until the whole surface is matte, not shiny, and the edge of the filling barely jiggles.
To decorate, I candied limes, then kept reducing the simple syrup until it browned and added a knob of butter and some cream for a lime caramel sauce.
Recipe adapted from Mark Bittman and Cooks Illustrated.