10 April 2010

Bean Curd Cheesecake

Tofu Cheesecake (with title)

My friends and I have talked about the two kinds of people to whom you share secrets: ones you tell because you know they'll keep them, and others you tell because you know they'll tell everyone and their hairstylists. I fall firmly on the first category. However, I've come to the realization that not a lot of people tell me secrets in the first place. It must be because I'm generally not a good repository of facts about people, and often I take away from the juiciness of the moment by being a total, er, guy about it. You can tell me something and I can completely forget about it until the next time you bring it up (or on command). I just don't like a cloud of judgment hanging over people and coloring my perceptions of them. I want my interactions to be spontaneous and genuine.

Anyway, you won't even need to tell me to keep it a secret, because by default I don't usually share conversations with other people. I'm not a good liar, but when it comes to other people's secrets, when asked I can conveniently flat-out deny something or, more usefully and convincingly, feign ignorance. I even keep secrets long after most everyone has found out. The one time I did share a (grave) secret, it blew up in my face, so I've learned my lesson.

I realize it doesn't make me the most popular person, but I think being trustworthy is more important than being popular. But I wouldn't know; do you think the sharers (and not the keepers) are generally more fun to talk to?


Secrets have nothing to do with this cheesecake; I only drew the topic from its zen-esque (enh? Not a thing) appearance. However, you can consider one of its main ingredients secret - silken tofu. I know a fair few of my readers recoil at the thought of it, and I won't lie and say "No! You really can't tell!" because a discerning palate - or at least one used to the taste of bean curd or soy milk - can tell this has it. But to be fair, it is a very pleasant-tasting cheesecake and gives the requisite richness and creaminess of cheesecake without actually being as heavy lipid-wise. I was most inspired to try this after a great experience eating matcha-flavored tofu cheesecake at Kyotofu in New York - a post for another time - though this fell a bit short of Kyotofu's secret recipe. It is a great place to start, and still a great dessert, though.
Tofu Cheesecake (whole)
Bean Curd Cheesecake adapted from Okashi Treats
I served this plain, but looking back, it would benefit greatly from a compote of any sweet-tart fruit. Cherries are my drug of choice, but of course you can't go wrong with blueberries or strawberries, or even pineapple. I've written down 2 teaspoons of gelatin here, but it was still too firm for my liking - you may be able to get away with one or one and a half. For the complete review of Okashi, one of the only books on Japanese-inspired cakes and pastries, click here to go to The Gastronomer's Bookshelf. It was written by Y of Lemonpi. Thanks Y!

Soy Bean Sponge
  • 40g (1/3 cup sifted) pastry flour or cake flour
  • 20g (2 tablespoons) kinako (roasted soybean powder - this isn't available in Manila, so I just omitted it)
  • 60g (5 tablespoons) caster sugar
  • 20g (1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons) light brown sugar
  • 80g (4 large) egg yolks
  • 90g (3 large) egg whites
  • 30g (2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Line the bottom and sides of a 28cm (11-inch) square cake pan with parchment, then spray the parchment with baking spray. If you don't have an 11-inch square pan, simply take a 10x15-inch sheet pan with sides at least 1/2 inch high and dam up the long side with a folded piece of aluminum foil 10 inches wide so that you create a partition 10x11 inches in the pan (still, line this with parchment). Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F).

In a small bowl, whisk together the pastry flour and the kinako. In another small bowl, whisk together the caster sugar and the light brown sugar. In another small bowl, beat the egg yolks lightly with a fork. In a clean mixing bowl and using a clean whisk, beat the egg whites on high speed until foamy, then add half the sugar mixture and beat until soft peaks are formed. Gradually add the rest of the sugar mixture while beating until it forms stiff, glossy peaks. Pour in the egg yolks and fold in gently with a spatula. Sift in the flour mixture and fold gently, then fold in the melted butter. Pour into the prepared pan and level the batter with a large offset spatula. Bake for 10-13 minutes.

Bean Curd Cream
  • 225g (8 ounces) cream cheese
  • 10g (1 scant tablespoon) light brown sugar
  • 70g (1/3 cup) caster sugar
  • 225g (8 ounces) silken tofu
  • 50g (3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon) heavy cream
  • 50g (3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon) sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons powdered gelatin (the book specifies 6g gelatin sheets, soaked in cold water)
  • 100g (6 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons) soy milk
Combine all the ingredients except the gelatin and soy milk in a food processor or blender and process until smooth, scraping down the sides as necessary to eliminate lumps and unmixed portions. Sprinkle the gelatin over the soy milk (or if using sheets, squeeze them of excess water and place them into the soy milk). Let the gelatin sit for a few minutes, then melt in a bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water (or in a microwavable container on LOW power for a few seconds at a time). Stir to dissolve completely, then process it into the rest of the bean curd cream.

You can use either an 18-cm (7-inch) square bottomless cake form, 8-inch cake ring, or 8-inch springform pan. Place the ring on a sheet pan and cut the sponge to fit the bottom of the ring for the cake base. Pour in the bean curd cream and refrigerate overnight until set. To unmold, warm the sides with a warm towel (you can also blowtorch the sides quickly if using just the cake ring).

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