Why not try a Japanese twist on a worldwide favourite dessert? This is the recipe for a Japanese Style Lemon Rare Cheesecake (レモンレアチーズケーキ).
What is Rare Cheesecake?
Rare cheesecake is basically the Japanese term for a no-bake cheesecake. The best thing about no bake cheesecakes is of course, you don't have to bake! This is great seeing as owning an oven in Japan is a bit of a luxury.
Not only that, but in the summer many people don't feel like baking... but we still need dessert in summer right?!
No-bake cheesecakes are usually lighter than their baked counterparts, which makes them refreshing and equally delicious!
How is Japanese Rare Cheesecake Different?
Whilst many no-bake cheesecake recipes use whipped cream to help make the mixture thicker, Japanese rare cheesecake uses yogurt and gelatin instead.
The yogurt adds a little bit of sourness and makes the cheesecake lighter. It also becomes a bit more calorie friendly compared to double cream. (I couldn't go as far as saying it's healthy though, haha!)
The gelatin helps it hold it's shape. As I'm sure you know, gelatin is an animal protein that is used in jelly and other wobbly desserts.
I'll admit, I rarely use gelatin in desserts or any other kind of cooking. I'm not a huge fan of jelly or jelly-ish textures. Somehow it's really delicious in this cheesecake recipe! When making this rare cheesecake, I used gelatin powder, and it took a few tries to get it right! Here are some tips from my learning process:
- First sprinkle the gelatin into cold water. It's better this way. If you pour water onto the gelatin, it can clump together. (extra mixing can fix this though)
- Use cold or warm water, not hot. If you use hot water, the powder expands too quickly.
- Leave for 5-10 minutes so it can 'bloom'. This is when the powder granules absorb the water and expand.
- After 10 minutes, the gelatin gets thicker but will still be lumpy.
- Before adding it to your cheesecake mixture, melt it a bit. You can do this in a saucepan but microwave is quicker and easier, about 30 seconds should do it!
Alternatives to Gelatin Powder
Although I used powder, of course you can use gelatin sheets. Around 6 sheets are equal to 7g of gelatin powder. You soak the sheets in ice cold water for about 5-10 mins, then take out the sheets, squeeze out the liquid and then heat them up so they melt. You then add the melted sheets to your cheesecake filling.
Agar Agar and Kanten
Agar agar is a natural and vegetarian friendly alternative to gelatin. There is a similar ingredient called kanten (かんてん) in Japanese. It's used in many Japanese desserts and jellies and is made of seaweed! How you use it is very different from gelatin though. Agar agar and kanten need to be boiled for about 5 minutes and they set quite quickly. Most recipes state that you should use half the amount of agar agar or kanten as a replacement for gelatin however, citrus like lemons or limes weakens the agar agar so I recommend using the same amount or more.
Using Agar Agar to Make this Recipe
If you decide to use agar agar, you have to use a different method. I've tried just swapping the gelatin for agar agar and it didn't set. I tried a few different ways and the following steps produced the best results.
- Follow the instructions for the base as usual.
- For the filling, mix the cream cheese, sugar, yogurt, lemon juice and vanilla essence in a bowl and set aside.
- In a sauce pan (one big enough for the filling) mix 20g (about 2 tbsp) agar agar powder into 100ml of water on a low heat and bring to the boil. Keep stirring for 2 minutes.
- Add ⅓ of the cheesecake filling to the pan and mix with the agar agar. Keep mixing on a medium-low heat for 2-3 minutes.
- If the mixture gets too hot just add a bit more of cold mixture bit by bit and mix thoroughly.
- After 5 minutes of cooking in the pan, add the last of the cheesecake filling into the hot mixture and mix well.
- Turn off the heat and mix for 1-2 minutes to let some of the heat out.
- Pour the mixture through a sieve onto the biscuit base and refrigerate. Agar agar sets very quickly so it will be ready in 1-2 hours.
Because of the lemon juice and yogurt, this Japanese style Rare Cheesecake is a little sour whilst being deliciously light and refreshing! I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!