Recipe: Hojicha Infused Cheesecake

Japan is famed for its matcha and green tea, but have you ever heard of hojicha? Hojicha is a type of Japanese green tea where the loose leaves have undergone an extra roasting step. This gives the tea its distinctive earthy taste and reddish-brown colour. 

Sipping on some hojicha tea the other day, I was inspired to add that unique and indulgent hojicha flavour to a dessert, in line with the upcoming festive season. What better to pair the roasted taste of hojicha with than some fresh, naturally sweet desserts. 

I decided to go for a hojicha fruit cheesecake. For this Japanese inspired cheesecake, I went the extra mile and had my Japan-made Kasumi VG-10 PRO 12cm Utility Knife to help me with my food prep, a knife that is perfectly primed to slice through all the fruits I need, but also big enough to cut through my cheesecake into slices, to serve. 

Ingredients:

(serves 4)

  • 350ml heavy/double cream
  • 180ml hojicha tea leaves
  • 1000g room-temperature cream cheese
  • 32g all-purpose flour
  • 200g sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 kiwis
  • 10-15 strawberries
  • 10-15 blueberries
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Some butter, for greasing
  • Half a pack of Digestive biscuits
  • A few tablespoons of melted butter

Don’t forget to ensure your heavy cream, cream cheese, butter and eggs have been laid out to get to room temperature. Nothing worse than working with refrigerator cold ingredients!

Instructions:

Making the base:

  1. Add 2 layers parchment paper to your cheesecake tin, ensuring an inch of paper spills over the edges.
  2. Crush the digestive biscuits with a rolling pin, pestle or even the underside of a frying pan.
  3. Once powdered, melt a few tablespoons of butter ina. bowl in the microwave.
  4. Mix the melted butter with the powdered digestive until you get a denser consistency. You may need to add a bit more butter.
  5. Shape and form the base on the parchment paper within the tin, moving up and towards the sides of the tin depending on how much base you have to spare.
  6. Bake for 10 mins at 200 degrees celsius to help is set. Set aside to cool.

The double parchment paper layer that the cake will sit in will help in the removal of the cake from the tin!

Making the filling:

  1. In a small pot over the hob, heat the heavy cream on medium-low heat. When it starts to simmer, turn off the heat and add your hojicha. Leave for at least 30 minutes. (You can also replace this step by using hojicha powder, which can be used immediately once mixed into the cream).
  2. Preheat your oven to 200°C.
  3. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar until they are all incorporated.
  4. Strain the heavy cream with a sieve to remove the tea leaves, and add into the cream cheese mixture. Add one egg and mix until the mixture is smooth. 
  5. Add in the rest of the eggs, one at a time, until fully incorporated into the mixture. 
  6. Mix the salt into the flour, and sift in the flour, a little at a time to prevent clumps, until the batter is smooth. 
  7. We are now ready for the batter to go in the oven! Grease a 7” pan with butter and line with two layers of parchment paper, making sure to leave at least 2” of overhang on the sides of the pan. 
  8. Pour the batter into the pan. Hold the pan 1 cm away from the tabletop and release the pan. Do this a few times to remove any air bubbles from your batter. 
  9. Place your pan on top of a baking tray – it is now ready to go into the oven! Leave in the oven for about an hour. 
  10. The cake is done when the top is a beautiful burnt brown colour, and it should be jiggly when you shake the baking tray. Take it out of the oven and leave to cool in the pan.

Preparing the fruit:

While the cake is cooling, we can make the fruits that go on the top of the cake. For this recipe, I am using kiwis, strawberries and blueberries. Working with my Kasumi Utility Knife I immediately came to appreciate how it didn’t weigh as much as other standard knives I’ve used previously. It actually threw me off the first few times I used them, but I adjusted readily enough. They have and keep a great edge too!

With the Kasumi Utility Knife blades being thinner, sharper and a bolster (the little band that joins the blade to the handle) to strengthen the knife, add durability, and create the beautiful balance.  My level of cutting precision and detail was absolutely satisfying.

  1. Let’s prepare the kiwis first. This may be pretty weird, but I grew up peeling everything, be it apples, carrots, or potatoes, by knife. So I was ready to test out my Kasumi Pro knife on the kiwis, and it went pretty well! The blade was small enough to manoeuvre easily with my fingers – although it is razor sharp, so I would not recommend trying this at home if you haven’t done it before. 
  2. Once the kiwis are peeled, slice them to make circles to decorate the top of your cake. The 15 degree angle of the blade really shines through here, as that means soft fruits like kiwis can be cut easily and with precision. 
  3. Next, we are preparing the strawberries in a similar way. Remove the stem and simply slice the strawberries lengthwise to create slices to adorn the cake.
  4. For the blueberries, simply wash them and put aside in a small bowl to use later.

Patience is needed!

Let the cake rest! I would highly recommend a combination of the cake sitting in room temperature, straight out of the oven, and for even more structure in the fridge for a few hours.

When the cake has cooled completely, carefully remove it from the cake pan with the parchment paper layers. Delicately peel the parchment paper off the sides of the cake (if you’ve done a bit of buttering and have allowed it to cool completely this should be a breeze).

To serve:

Decorate the top of it with the fruits you have prepared.

Simply slice through the cake with your Kasumi Pro knife and place on a small plate, and add in a few extra pieces of fruit if you have any left over! Enjoy your beautiful, smooth, rich hojicha cheesecake.

Bon Appetit!

Summary

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