Previously, on tastingmenu.wordpress.com –
Over the years, a local Japanese eatery at Chestnut Hill had served a ‘tofu’ cheesecake dessert that was not overly heavy and not cloying sweet. Unfortunately, they stopped serving it a few years back and I was really in the mood to have that dessert again. I did notice Iron Chef Morimoto had also made such a dessert in his Iron Chef battles. Since Iron Chef Morimoto’s tofu battle (one against Yoshida in the original Japanese series and one against Yeo in the American series), I’ve been wanting to have this dessert (never having had it at his NYC restaurant during the omakase meal). And while the original recipe in his cookbook calls for things like coffee infused maple syrup, candied lime zest and candied yuba (the latter having appeared in the Yoshida battle), I’d seen references to this dessert using other garnishes like apricot and pineapple.
So, Iron Chef Morimoto’s cheesecake fell into the no-bake cheesecake category. Strictly speaking, by Morimoto’s own admission, this dessert isn’t made of tofu. Actual tofu is ‘gelled’ from heated soy milk that has been blended with nigari – a natural blend of magnesium chloride, magnesium sulfate, calcium sulfate, potassium chloride, and magnesium bromide after the (sodium chloride) salt has been extracted from sea water. So the ‘tofu’ here is a conceit since it’s a blend of cream cheese, egg whites, cream and soy milk. The ‘tofu’, here, is the gelling of soy milk with gelatin (or in this particular case, agar) and combining it with the other ingredients. So it’s something of a visual/ingredient pun.
I wanted to put Iron Chef Morimoto’s ‘tofu’ cheesecake onto a cookie crust and so I went looking around for a recipe for that. Bon Appetit at https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/bas-best-cheesecake suggested:
9 ounces graham crackers
1 tablespoon raw sugar (the honey grahams would have enough sugar in it)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt (I did not find this necessary)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted, slightly cooled – turned out I needed only 1/2 stick of butter
My take on the crust would be to food process the crackers, add the salt, pour the whole mix into a ziplock plastic bag, add the liquified
butter and then shake-n-bake the whole thing.
At that point, I would just turn the mixture out into my recently acquired no-leak non-stick springform cake pan (with parchment paper
on the bottom), spread the mixture out evenly and then chill the crust in the refridgerator until it was time to fill it with the Iron Chef
Morimoto’s cheesecake mixture.
In researching the technique in substituting in agar for gelatin, I came across the fact that agar had a melting point of 85 °C/185 °F and would start to solidify at 32–40 °C/90–104 °F (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agar).What was important to notice here was the information at https://www.pressdemocrat.com/lifestyle/4987375-181/how-to-make-yuba-soy, indicating soy milk had a “boiling point” of 165 degrees and after that point ‘yuba’/soybean/tofu skin begins to form.
I would need to start/activate the agar solution first and then add in the 150 degree soymilk
For the actual ‘cheesecake’ –
1/3 cup heavy cream
2 large egg whites (4 T pasteurized egg whites – Organic Valley Pasteurized — make sure the 4 T are room temperature before whipping)
1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons of sugar
4 oz cream cheese (room temperature)
1/2 c fresh soy milk
1 1/4 t (powdered gelatin in 1 T cold water) [3/8 t + 1/24 t agar in 1 T boiling water since I saw the comment about powdered gelatin to agar was 3:1 (see https://www.pacificharvest.co.nz/blog/food-articles/gelatine-substitute )]
* beat heavy cream until stiff and then refridgerate.
* beat egg whites with 2 T sugar until soft peaks (reserve) – this would take about 5 minutes on low speed with the beater.
* heat 1/3 c sugar with 3 T water, boil WITHOUT stirring until it becomes syrup at 235-240 degrees F.
* beat hot syrup into whipped egg whites until meringue is cool and very stiff – and this would take another 5 minutes with the beater.
* Make the agar/water mix by adding 3/8t+1/24t aga to 1 T boiling (90 degrees C/194 degrees F) water mixture
* Heat the soy milk to 150 degrees F and then add to the agar/water mix
* into a stainless steel mixing bowl over simmering water, blend cream cheese, soy milk/agar blend until warm.
* Dissolve/blend the entire mixture over 50% max power heat
* Out of the bowl on simmering water, fold soy milk/cream cheese/agar mix into the meringue.
* Fold in the whipped cream into the soy milk/cream cheese/agar/meringue mix.
* Pour the combined mixture into a 6″ square pan; flip it onto a sheet pan/platter and refridgerate for at least 2 hrs or overnight.
……some hours later…..
So after dinner, my wife and I pulled the cake out, popped off the springform walls and pulled away the parchment paper from around
the side of the cake. It was great that it came away cleanly! And now my wife wanted to select the fruit to decorate the cake; and what
she chose were supremes of orange and raspberries. Both of us were very curious to the flavor profile of this dessert. I must say I was surprised how light and creamy this dessert was. It’s currently advertised as ‘Nama Tofu Soy Cloud Cheesecake’ at his NYC restuarant and I have to agree with the description. It’s a terrific dessert to end a meal if a multicourse meal ended on something either very rich/heavy. Thank you Iron Chef Morimoto for sharing this dessert from your battles! Hmm… now should I do Murata’s Fruit Jelly, Thomas Keller’s Oven Roasted Maui Pineapple Chop or Iron Chef Morimoto’s Tofu Cheesecake for the Christmas meal…..?
Update: 30 Nov 2019
I just came across the folllowing from https://www.finecooking.com/article/french-vs-italian-vs-swiss-meringue –
Italian MeringueThe most stable of all the meringues, this is made with a sugar syrup that has been heated to the soft-ball stage (236°F to 240°F). The hot sugar syrup is gradually beaten into the egg whites after soft peaks have formed and then whipped to firm glossy peaks. Its stability and smooth texture make it great for egg white buttercreams and mousses….
Sounds like the specified meringue for Iron Chef Morimoto’s Tofu Cheesecake
One of my taste testers suggested I reduce the amount of graham crust by 30% to 6 oz rather than 9 oz of graham crackers.
Update: 6 Dec 2019
6 oz of graham crackers had a yield of 1 cup of graham cracker crumbs