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Sunday, June 29, 2014

Wasabi Raspberry Cheesecake

I posted a picture, recently, of little mini desserts in shot glasses. I do them for work, and sometimes for parties. They're just the most perfect little portions of something sweet. I love dessert, but it's sometimes not a finger food. Cookies and mini cakes can be great, of course, but sometimes you just want a cup of cheesecake. Which brings me to the subject of my latest blog post. (And, coincidentally, it ties into my last blog post of gluten-free desserts, which the following is!)

This is from "Afternoon Tea"; I change their recipes all the time.
I like to think of myself as the creative type. In reality, I have this deep and crippling fear that I'm ordinary and un-creative and stupid. I want to be creative. But everything I do, someone has probably already done. All of the recipes I do are variations on other successful ones, or--worse--mediocre copies of another man's genius. I use cookbooks all the time. Chef Law dictates not to steal another Chef's dish for your own purposes. I think that's why I focus more on techniques. I feel like I don't plagiarize as much.

To tell you the truth, cooking is a sort of therapy for me. I truly believe in my heart of hearts that no sane person would ever go into the culinary industry. It is not glamorous. At all. It's hard. It's hard, there are long hours, you barely sleep, you get cuts and burns on your arms and hands, and kitchen floors are built on a very slight incline, all to drain water into--well--drains. What this means for you is that you're constantly balancing yourself on a non-level surface, which causes back problems, but also gives you really sick definition on your calves. So, you know, it's got its ups.

The point is that I choose to be in this environment because I feel like any other workplace environment would allow me to become too stagnant. I have a tendency to drag my feet. I have a tendency to sulk. I just broke up with my boyfriend of 3.5 years and I'm now in a weird mental limbo state where I just feel...lethargy. I don't feel hopeless. Not at all. I'm the one that broke it off. And yet I feel lost. So I seek solace in the only thing I understand: Food.

No matter what's going on in your life, you can absolutely know that,without fail, eggs are a thickener in baked goods. Butter is a fat. Sugar is a sweetener. That's what they are. That's what they were yesterday, and what they will be tomorrow, and the day after that. If you add egg yolks to melted chocolate and milk and a little bit of butter, it'll get thick and turn into a custard. Oh, is it ever a comfort! It's like your own little piece of paradise, one that you create. And when you bite into it, it's like you forget--for the tiniest of moments--all of the bad things in your life. The only thing that matters is that custard.

A dish is like a gift to your customer. You fill it with hard work and love. You want to give, you want to feed. But some dishes are just for you. Some dishes are just for the sake of you trying something new. I'm learning that there's nothing wrong with that.

This dish, Wasabi Raspberry Cheesecake, was inspired by Chef Christina Tosi's Liquid Cheesecake from my well-worn copy of Momofuku Milk Bar. It was also inspired by Making Artisan Chocolates by Andre Garrison Shotts, in a recipe for dipped chocolates called "wasabi raspberry." The Chef said that he loved this particular flavor combination, for that zing and heat of wasabi went so well with the tang of raspberry. And the chocolate ganache sounded superb. I didn't make the chocolates, but I took the flavor combination and put it into something I know that I make well: liquid cheesecake. Specifically, Wasabi-Raspberry Liquid Cheesecake:

It actually was really good. Seriously. 

Wasabi-Raspberry Liquid Cheesecake
  • +1 lb cream cheese
  • +2 large eggs, room temperature
  • +1 Tbsp +2 tsp cornstarch
  • +1 1/2 c sugar
  • +2 oz. Milk
  • +1 tsp wasabi powder (you can add more, if you like)
  • +a few dollops of Raspberry compote of your liking(can even be jam)

Using a paddle attachment, cream together the cheese and the sugar on medium speed for three minutes. Scrape down the bowl, and continue beating, adding the eggs one at a time, making sure each one is fully incorporated. Add the wasabi and cornstarch and continue to beat for 5 minutes in medium-low.
Bake at 300 degrees in whichever vessels you choose (I chose shot glasses and ramekins), swirling in as much or as little raspberry as you like, for 8 minutes, or until just set. Bake in 5 minute increments, making sure the tops don't brown. Enjoy!

The best part about this particular recipe is that you can bake it in advance and eat it like pudding. It can also be unmolded(I found that out yesterday) and eaten as a plated dessert! The original recipe states to cook it in a sheet pan/baking pan lined with plastic wrap at a low 300 degrees F. It sounds dangerous, but I've done it before(and so has Christina Tosi), so you should trust us. Just don't let it exceed 300 degrees. The plastic seemed to get a little crisp.

The result is basically like a pudding-ish cheesecake. You can eat it with a spoon, or let it set a little more and eat it with a fork. The wasabi is biting, and the raspberry adds a pleasant tang. The fat of the cream cheese works great against the crazy heat of the wasabi(which should be noted isn't REAL wasabi, just the powdered stuff we get here in America). All in all, it's a really pleasant dish. And it should inspire you to push the boundaries, too. Right now, I'm in a tough spot in my life. Pushing boundaries must be how I cope. 


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