I've made a variety of cheesecakes (i.e. Raspberry Swirl, America's Test Kitchen, Bourbon Pumpkin, Pumpkin Spice, No-Bake Nutella, Key-Lime, and Lite-Mixed Berry) in my time but none quite like this: a Japanese Cheesecake. I had no idea what I walking into but the concept sounded fascinating. The best description that I read was it's like a cheesecake and chiffon cake met in bar and had one too many, resulting in this this bundle of joy. I decided to make it for the ultimate cheesecake lover, Brandon.
So what's the difference between a Japanese versus a New York style cheesecake? For starters, there's almost a full cup of flour in the batter which accounts for the chiffon feel. Not quite a cake - not quite a cheesecake. It takes away from that trademark texture of being creamy and dreamy. I would almost describe it as slightly dry. So be forewarned: if you are looking for silky smoothness - keep moving.
Another big difference is the amount of sugar. In a New York style cheesecake, there's 1 1/2 cups of sugar while the Japanese version halves the amount! This makes it far less decadent which, depending on your preference, is awesome or a bummer. Personally, I don't like super sweet desserts so this a bonus. You don't feel the urge to chug a gallon of water after a slice or go to they gym the next day as penance.
A key element that differentiates these two recipes is the actual baking method. A New York style cheesecake is pretty straightforward - mix all the ingredients, pour into a spring form pan, and bake in the oven in a hot water bath (bain marie). It has a graham cracker crust so there's no need to line the pan. A Japanese cheesecake is a touch more complicated.
As you can see above - there is no graham cracker crust ergo, the pan needs to be lined with parchment paper so you can safely extract it from the pan. This is one area where I got sloppy! See how my Japanese cheesecake doesn't have perfectly smooth sides? It's all lumpy and bumpy. Well ladies and gentlemen... that's because I did a sloppy job lining the pan, cramming parchment paper against the sides of the spring form. Make sure you cut out a nice smooth sheet and line it against the cake round! : )
Also, rather than just mixing everything together, the Japanese version is a two step process. There is the basic mix portion but the second component requires a light meringue. Whip the egg whites with some sugar until it's thick and glossy then gently fold into the cream cheese base. Now it's ready to bake in the oven like any ol' cheesecake!
I'm not going to lie to you - this variety of cheesecake was not up Brandon's alley and that's okay. B loves the glamor and sin of a full-bodied American cheesecake. He likes the trademark sweetness and creaminess that makes people fall in love with it in the first place. I, however, can only handle cheesecake in small slices for those very same reasons. This is definitely the type of cake you would find in an Asian or European bakery where decadence is not the goal. Top this bad boy with fresh or roasted strawberries (totally vote simple roasted or the fancy kind) - yummy!