Lightness is what comes to mind when I think of Japanese cheesecake. A foam of glossy meringue is stirred through beaten egg yolks and cream cheese, and then gently baked in a bain-marie until it rises tall. For those who find a New York-style cheesecake too heavy, this cheesecake/souffle hybrid might be the perfect solution. My version is made with earthy pistachios and served with a sharp compote using dried cherries, so I can enjoy it any time of year.
Japanese pistachio cheesecake with cherries in syrup
Use an oven thermometer to check your oven temperature for this recipe, because under- or over-cooking it can have a significant effect on the final result.
Prep 20 min
Cook 50 min, plus cooling
For the cake
Butter, for greasing
200g cream cheese
4 large eggs, separated
60g plain flour
½ tsp lemon juice
125g caster sugar
For the cherries
150g dried cherries
180g apple juice
50g caster sugar
Line the base of a 20cm round cake tin with greaseproof paper, grease the sides and base with butter, then cover with a double layer of aluminium foil, making sure that each sheet is free from any tears.
Use a food processor to grind the pistachios to a powder, then keep blending until they turn into a thick paste. Cream the cream cheese and pistachio paste, then stir through the egg yolks and flour.
Put the egg whites and lemon juice in a large, clean bowl, then, using an electric whisk, whisk to soft peaks. Add the caster sugar a tablespoon at a time, whisking continuously, until it has all been mixed in and you have a smooth, glossy meringue.
Stir a third of the meringue into the cream cheese mix to loosen it, then fold through another third, followed by the final third, taking care not to lose too much air from the mixture.
Pour into the prepared cake tin, then put the tin into a high-sided roasting tin. Pour in enough boiling water to come halfway up the side of the tin and bake at 160C (150C fan)/325F/gas 3 for 50 minutes, by which time the cake should be well risen and the top browned.
Turn off the heat and, keeping the door slightly ajar with a wooden spoon, leave to cool in the oven. After 30 minutes, lift the tin from the water bath and leave the cake in the oven to cool completely.
To prepare the cherries, put them into a saucepan with the apple juice and sugar. Simmer, covered, over a low heat for seven minutes, until the cherries have plumped up, then remove the lid and continue to simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated and the syrup has thickened. Serve with slices of the cheesecake.