Savory Sweets: Japanese Cheesecake

Good morning and Happy Friday, everyone! We made it through the week (relatively) unscathed!

This weekend is shaping up to be a busy one for me- with a friend’s birthday party and another friend’s Wrestlemania party keeping me occupied most of my Saturday and Sunday nights- but I’ve got some things planned for the early morning hours and afternoons, too! This certainly won’t be a weekend where I sleep in late- that’s for sure.

Before I get started on the last of my tasks at my office for this week and try to get a jump start on my weekend plans, I wanted to share a recently discovered recipe that I think I perfected a couple of nights ago while playing around in my kitchen. Japanese Cheesecake, which is sort of a combination of cheesecake and souffle in both taste and texture (it jiggles!) takes a couple of hours to prep and bake- but once it’s done- you have a light, airy, but still delicious dessert to serve with a piping hot cup of coffee or tea!

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • Nonstick cooking spray, for spraying the pan
  • 10 ounces cream cheese, cut into cubes
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 7 large eggs, separated
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • ⅔ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for decorating

READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Spray a 9-inch round cake pan with cooking spray and line the bottom with parchment. Place a 3 1/2-inch-wide strip of parchment around the inside of the pan so that it comes up about 1 inch higher than the edge; set aside.
  2. Heat the cream cheese, milk and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, whisking occasionally, until smooth. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly, about 5 minutes.
  3. Whisk together the vanilla, egg yolks and lemon juice in a large bowl until smooth. Pour the cooled milk mixture into the yolk mixture and whisk until smooth and combined. Whisk in the flour and cornstarch until combined; set aside.
  4. Beat the egg whites, cream of tartar and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes. Slowly add the granulated sugar and continue beating on medium speed until stiff peaks form, about 2 minutes longer.
  5. Gently fold the egg white mixture into the yolk mixture in 3 batches, making sure not to overmix (you want the whites to stay as fluffy as possible). As soon as the white streaks disappear from the batter, pour it into the prepared pan.
  6. Place the cake pan inside of a larger pan and pour enough hot water into the larger pan so that it comes 1 inch up the sides of the cake pan. Bake for 30 minutes, then reduce the oven to 250 degrees F and continue baking until the cake is doubled in size, golden brown on top and around the edges and jiggly in the center but set, about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
  7. Let the cake cool for 10 minutes. Carefully invert the cake onto your dominant hand (right onto your palm–this is the most gentle way to handle it), then invert it back onto a cake stand or plate so that the top is facing up. Sprinkle the entire top with confectioners’ sugar and serve while still warm.

If I hadn’t finished baking this fabulous concoction so late at night, I probably would have indulged in more than just one serving. I really enjoyed this cake/custard dish- which I can only describe as tasting like the right amount of cheesecake and yellow cake all at once and with every bite.

I think next time, I’ll be topping it with some strawberries or kiwi slices to give it an extra kick of sweet/sour flavor (plus, fruit balances out the sugar and eggs, right?)– but even eating it as it was didn’t make me that feel guilty at all! This dessert wasn’t “heavy” and didn’t weigh me down after I’d tasted it the way regular cheesecakes tend to do.

But, this deliciousness aside- I’m off to get things done!

Here’s hoping you all have an amazing weekend. I’ll see you all next week!

xx

– Ashley –

Fall Foodie: Mini Mason Jar Apple Pies

Happy Friday, everyone! I’ve been in the midst of a 6-day vacation from work (I’ve been out of the office since Wednesday and I return next Tuesday) just because I needed a break- but before I left- I wanted to make a quick treat for some of my co-workers since we’ve all been busting our asses in recent weeks and I thought it’d be a nice change of pace for a bit. I’d seen a couple of variations of this recipe floating around on social media and Pinterest over the past few days- and finally caved in and tried making my own variation of it. After a quick stop at Michael’s Arts & Crafts to pick up these cute glass mini mason-jars and gathering some apples I had recently picked at a local orchard- I was ready to put my canning/jarring skills to the test.

The recipe below will make 6 jars. I had to double up on everything to accommodate 12 co-workers (excluding myself).

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 baking apples, peeled and chopped (like Honeycrisp, Granny Smith or McIntosh)
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ginger
  • ½ teaspoon cloves
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 packages store-bought pie dough (4 circles total)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1½ teaspoons turbinado sugar

READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Have ready six ¼ pint (½ cup) mason jars on a baking sheet.
  2. In a large sauté pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the apples and sauté until nearly tender, 4 to 5 minutes.
  3. Add the sugar, flour, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and vanilla extract, and sauté for 2 minutes more. Let the mixture cool to room temperature.
  4. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough until it is flat and slightly thinner than it originally was. Cut the dough into six 3-inch circles and six 2-inch circles.
  5. Press a 3-inch circle into a mason jar, pressing it firmly to the base and sides and taking care not to poke holes in the dough. Trim any excess from the top edge with a paring knife. Repeat with the remaining 3-inch circles and jars.
  6. Scoop the cooled filling into the pastry-lined jars, mounding it about ½ inch over the top rim.
  7. Place the 2-inch rounds over the filling and tuck the edges under so they meet the edge of the jar. Crimp the edges with your fingers or a fork. Chill the pies for 10 minutes.
  8. While the pies chill, whisk the egg and water together to combine. Brush the egg wash over each pie top, and then sprinkle the top of each with ½ teaspoon turbinado sugar. Cut small vents into the top of each pie with a paring knife.
  9. Bake until the pies are golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.

I would like to mention that I didn’t fold over or crimp the tops of the pie crusts to the jars since I didn’t want to risk them getting damaged during transport from my home to the office. Instead, I cooked them separately as individual discs and brought them with me to place on top of the jars as they were being served. For the record- nobody seemed to mind!

These were a big hit with my co-workers, which made me happy- and when I tried one that I had made for myself when I got home after I’d left work for the day/week- I had no complaints! These came out amazing and I think they’re going to be a success when I attempt them again this coming Thanksgiving. I’m actually thinking of trying some different versions, as well- like lemon meringue and key lime pie.

I’m kinda’ craving one right now, actually.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

xx

– Ashley –