Happy Friends Day, digital friends!
(Shout out to Facebook, for always keeping arbitrary holidays on my radar.)
Speaking of holidays, this Saturday was the first day of the year of the rooster, which apparently led to an email from Wells Fargo advertising custom bank cards to mark the momentous occasion. (There’s probably a joke in there somewhere about spending money to buy a vehicle for spending more money.) All solicitous digital post aside, it’s also the start of the best food holiday of the year (in my completely biased opinion): Chinese New Year. And even though New Years Day has come and gone (of the lunar variety, although I suppose the same is true for the Gregorian New Year), there’s still a good ten days left in the holiday season (it’s like the 12 days of Christmas, except 3 extra days of merriment and joy), which means that it’s still just the right time to bake up something special for the holiday.
In light of a simultaneous cheesecake craving and desperate need to use up the remaining purple sweet potatoes (aka ube, according to Pinterest – I think it’s a Tagalog word?) in my fridge from like December, we’re hopping onto the Asian fusion train this week to create an ube cheesecake with a sesame sablé (aka shortbread) crust. In case you’ve never come across a purple sweet potato, they are the naturally sweeter (and therefore far superior) cousin of the ubiquitous orange sweet potatoes of Thanksgiving and Christmas. The purple skinned ones are pretty great, but my personal favorite are the white-skinned variety, which are sweet enough that I was able to cut out about 1/4 of the sugar from a standard cheesecake and still end up with a pretty fantastic (and beautifully purple) dessert. The recipe itself will make a whole 9″ cheesecake, but barring some minor difficulties in acquiring half an egg white, there’s no reason why you can’t halve the recipe like I did to make three 4″ cheesecakes instead. (Or just have a ridiculously amount of leftover sablés. There’s really no such thing as too many cookies.)
Also, fun fact: while I’m pretty sure I did see a purple variety of edible food dust the last time I was at Michael’s, that’s not actually what the purple dusting on the cheesecake is. Turns out, almond meringue cookies stay fresh for forever and a half in a good old airtight cookie tin, so my wonderful misadventures in macaronage once again rears its (surprisingly aesthetically pleasing) head by gracing the tops of whipped cream swirls in its crumbled form.
So if you’re looking to ring in the new year (again) with something gorgeous, fancy, and a little bit out of the box, try out these tasty sesame ube cheesecakes. Or, sub in gingersnaps and sweet potatoes of the ordinary orange variety if you’re already nostalgic for the holidays. (Only 11 months to Christmas, right?) Either way, hope you enjoy!
Sesame Ube Cheesecake
Sablé recipe adapted from Pierre Hermé via Cuisinez avec Djouza
Makes one 9″ cheesecake (or halve the recipe to make three 4″ cheesecakes)
Sesame Sablé Crust:
90 g all-purpose flour
80 g black sesame powder
30 g cornstarch
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
70 g powdered sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 large egg white
3 tbs black sesame powder
2 tbs unsalted butter, melted
2 tbs granulated sugar
Ube Cheesecake Filling:
2 cups mashed purple sweet potatoes (from about 3 medium sweet potatoes, boiled and pureed)
3 packages cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
3/4 cup sugar
2 tbs cornstarch
1-2 drops blue food coloring, as needed
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tbs granulated sugar
Lavender edible food dust
Black sesame powder
Sesame Sablé Crust:
- Sift together the flour, 80 g sesame powder, and cornstarch until fully incorporated.
- In a stand mixer or with an electric mixer, beat together the 1/2 cup butter, powdered sugar, and salt until fully incorporated. Beat in the egg white until fully incorporated.
- Mix in the flour mixture until fully incorporated, then cover the mixture with saran wrap and let it rest for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350° F and line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
- After resting, load the cookie dough into a piping bag fitted with a large closed star tip (I used the Wilton 2D!). On the cookie sheet, pipe rectangular cookies by tracing the piping tip back and forth to form a W shape. Bake the cookies for about 15 minutes, or until the edges of the cookie have browned slightly. Set aside to cool.
- In a food processer, blend together about 8-9 cookies, remaining sesame powder, melted butter, and granulated sugar until fully incorporated.
- Grease the bottom and sides of a 9″ springform pan or three 4″ springform pans, then line with parchment paper. Press a layer of the crumbled cookie mixture into the bottom of the pan to form a crust, then bake for 10 minutes until solid. Set aside to cool!
Ube Cheesecake Filling:
- In a stand mixer or with an electric mixer, beat together the mashed sweet potatoes, cream cheese, sour cream, and sugar until fully incorporated.
- Lightly beat together the eggs until frothy. Sift in the cornstarch while whisking the eggs to prevent clumping. Add the egg mixture to the cream cheese mixture and beat until fully incorporated. Mix in the blue food coloring as needed to adjust the color of the filling to your liking.
- Transfer the filling into the cheesecake pan(s). Bake for 1 hour (for the 9″ cheesecake) or 40 minutes (for the 4″ cheesecakes), or until the top of the cheesecake is solid and smooth.
Tip: The filling will be very thick. Just do your best to smooth out the top surface with a spatula, and the cheesecake should even out as it bakes.
- Allow the cheesecake to come to room temperature, then chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, or until fully chilled.
- Dip a small offset spatula in warm water, dry slightly, then gently wedge the spatula between the cheesecake and the sides of the springform pan to dislodge the cheesecake before lifting it out of the pan. Set aside for decorating!
Tip: If the sides of the cheesecake looks rough, dip the spatula into warm water and gently smooth the filling until the surface looks smooth.
- In a stand mixer or with an electric mixer, whip the cream and sugar to stiff peaks. At this point, when you lift the beaters out, you should see sharp peaks in the cream that do not curl over.
- Load the whipped cream into a piping bag fitted with an open star tip (I used the Wilton 1M!). Pip small dollops of cream in a circle on the top surface of cheesecake (for the 9″ cheesecake) or one large swirl in the center (for the 4″ cheesecake). Garnish with lavender food dust (or the crumbled remains of past failures) and black sesame powder. Continue to chill until you are ready to serve! Enjoy!