Chocolate Blood Orange Japanese Cheesecake

Japanese-style cheesecake, also called “cotton cheesecake” is sort of a cross between a traditional cheesecake and an angel food cake (or more accurately, a castella cake). The bulk of the cake is meringue, and this gives the cake its signature jiggle. I first heard of this cake from a Facebook ad for Keki Modern Cakes, and almost immediately ran out to get one. Keki’s creme-wich cake is cut horizontally and filled with a layer of cream nearly as thick as the cake. My friend was talking about how much he loves this cake, so I decided to make a chocolate one for his birthday. I found a recipe on Food52.com and used the recipe for a chocolate cake, but instead of omitting the lemon juice and zest, I used a blood orange.

The first step is to melt together the butter, cream cheese and milk in a double boiler, then add vanilla and egg yolks, and sift in the dry ingredients. The recipe specifies cake flour, which has a bit less gluten than all-purpose flour. To compensate, I used a tablespoon less flour and a tablespoon more cornstarch. The zest and juice are added once the flour, salt, and cornstarch are incorporated. Everything in the cake was dumpstered except for the sugar, salt, cornstarch, and cream of tartar. While doing this I also put on a kettle of water to boil, which I would need for baking.

The next step is to whip all the whites, with the cream of tartar, to stiff peaks. The eggs whipped very quickly compared to the boxed egg whites I used for my meringues; I guess that’s the difference using whole eggs makes. I will have to try making them again. This is added in parts to the cheese mixture, first about a quarter stirred in quickly then the rest gently folded in about half of a third at a time.

Then it’s ready to go in the pan, which is greased (to make the paper stick) and lined with parchment paper. I bought some parchment paper for this recipe, but used a ten inch springform pan I found in the street. The recipe calls for a nine inch pan, so the cake will be a little shorter.

The cake needs to be cooked in a water bath, so I used my oven’s broiler pan to set the springform pan in. Then I poured the batter into the springform pan and put it, with the broiler pan underneath, into the oven. Then I filled the broiler pan with hot water and baked the cake for an hour.

After the cake completely cooled, I removed it from the pan. The bottom of the cake was soggy; it looked like water had seeped into the pan from the water bath. I moved the cake onto some paper towels, hoping to soak up the excess moisture, then put it back in the oven upside-down at 215°F for 40 minutes to dry it out. The cake was certainly much shorter than it was supposed to be, which meant I would have to put the whipped cream on top instead of splitting it and putting it in the middle. I set the cake back on the base of the springform pan so I could use it to transport the cake, and put the metal bowl and hand mixer beaters in the freezer.

I used the zest and flesh of three blood oranges to make some glazed oranges by boiling them briefly in sugar, water, and tapioca starch, then straining out most of the liquid.

Then I made chocolate whipped cream by combining 2 tablespoons each of cocoa powder and sugar to a pint of cream and whipping it in the cold bowl, then topped the cake with the whipped cream, oranges, and dusted it with cocoa powder and powdered sugar.

The cake was much denser than it was supposed to be, and I had to carry it around for a few hours before I could get it to the party, but it was still enjoyed by everyone who had some.

I also made 72 buffalo wings for the party and helped with the burgers. We had dumpstered enough food to feed around 30 people, mostly in one night, including some veggie burgers and veggie dogs. All anybody had to buy was hamburger buns and beer. The Little Debbie cakes didn’t even get put out.

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