Sunday, 28 July 2013

Ginger Honey Cheesecake


To me, dates are synonymous with the holy month of Ramadan. I understand that it is wise to consume dates upon breaking fast to gently ease your digestive system into accepting food.  Dates are packed with vitamins and minerals and are a good source of iron. My mum used to boil red dates with honey and consume it as a health drink. Unfortunately for me, I didn't like the smell of the red dates. Every time my mum boiled her health concoction, I would feel "pening" (dizzy).



There was only once that I found dates pleasing. It was on a MAS flight back from Terengganu to KL. It was just after Hari Raya and dates were served on the flight. Those dates were oblong in shape and did not have that characteristic date smell that makes me want to faint. In fact, they were rather tasty.

As it is now the fasting month, I find dates here, there and everywhere, displayed prominently at the supermarkets. These days you can also find designer dates at specialty shops, stuffed with nuts and chocolate. Have you ever eaten fresh dates? They are crunchy and taste a little bit like green apples. That took me by surprise. And I tried growing the seeds. Nothing came out of that which was a good thing. It would not do my messy garden any good to have a date palm growing in it's midst.


Finely chopped dates. They were very sticky and tasted rather good.

When I chanced upon this Middle Eastern inspired cheesecake, I just had to try it. Dates and ginger in a cheesecake. Doesn't that sound exotic? Frankly, my initial response was "yeeeeearrrr.....what a weird combination", given my attitude towards dates. But it did conjure up images of camels languidly navigating the dessert desert and exotic belly dancers gyrating to the hypnotic Middle Eastern beat. And Middle Eastern food. Delicious!


One of the most effective way to crush biscuits is to use the good old lesung from the lesung batu (pestle from your mortar and pestle). Very good way to relief frustration, whatever they may be. My weapon of choice.

My first task was to get hold of some gingernut biscuits for the base. This gingernut business reminded me of a rather cheeky postcard my mum brought back from Scotland. I'm afraid I can't tell you that story. Oh, OK I will. It has a cartoon of a Mr McSomething in his kilt standing atop a ladder. He was looking for gingernut biscuits for his customer when the good lady looked up and remarked that she has spotted them already :D

This cheesecake also contains Candied Ginger and I still have some in the fridge. I found the gingernut biscuits to be pleasant but they were not crunchy and rather hard. Not like the usual cookies which are crispy and crumbly. Are they supposed to be that way or had air leaked into the packaging? By the way, how do you say "biskut dah lemau" in English? 


Finely chopped candied ginger.

Since I was not happy with the biscuits, I went to Cold Storage and got another one called Ginger Crunch or something like that. This one said "more gingery" on the package and it was more crunchy like a regular cookie or biscuit. Tasted very nice too but a bit sweet for me. So the biscuits were sweet and so were the dates. And not forgetting the sugar from the candied ginger. I had to make sure that the cheesecake is not overly sweet.


This is how it looked like just out of the oven. For the first time my baked cheesecake is cracked and wrinkly. But I am not complaining because everything was fine after it cooled down completely.

The recipe calls for a mixture of cream cheese and Kashta cheese. Kashta cheese is a heavy cream style of fresh cheese but I doubt if  I can find it here. Besides, even if it is available, I would not buy it because generally I am scared of cheese. I only eat three types of cheese : Cheddar (in sandwiches or omelette), Mozzarella (in pizza, I will not touch it in any other form) and of course cream cheese (must add vanilla essence, if not I "pening" [get dizzy]). I still remember tasting blue cheese when I was a little girl. Uawghhh!!! I swore it stung my tongue. I had to drink a few glasses of my grandpa's iced coffee to kill the taste. So excuse me if I make a face when anybody mentions blue cheese dressing for salads :(



When it was time to taste the cheesecake, I was worried. If I didn't like the taste, I would throw away the whole cake. I would not serve something that doesn't taste good to me. So here goes........hmmmm! mmmm! mmmmm! My eyes became big as I kept spooning the cheesecake into my mouth. This is rather good! I couldn't believe it! The sweetness of the cake was just right and all the ingredients complemented each other so well. There's the creaminess from the cream cheese, the chewy gooey texture from the sweet sticky dates and the light gingery flavor and crunch from the candied ginger and biscuit base. Beautiful! 



I adjusted the amount of ingredients used in the original recipe and baked the cake in a 9" pan. With the benefit of hindsight, I should have baked it in an 8" pan for a taller cake. But still, sometimes a flatter cake does have an elegant look to it. And thanks to this month's chosen ingredient ginger on Little Thumbs Up, I have taken the risk of trying out this "strange" recipe :)








Ginger Honey Cheesecake 
Recipe source : Adapted from Favorite Cupcakes and Cheesecakes (page 140)
My notes and adaptations in red.

Ingredients :

Base :
- 250g gingernut biscuits, finely crushed (I used 200g)
- 1 tablespoon sugar (I omitted because the biscuits are already so sweet)
- 50g butter, chilled

Filling :
- 500g cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 cup honey (I used 1/4 cup only because the dates and candied ginger are sweet)
- 1/2 cup sugar (I omitted)
- 2 large eggs at room temperature
- 300g Kashta cheese (I used 200 ml whipping cream)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice (I omitted)
- 1.5 teaspoons vanila extract
- 3/4 cup dates, finely chopped (I used 1/2 cup, but will use 3/4 cup in future)
- 2 tablespoons glaced ginger, very finely chopped

Method :

Preheat oven to 180C (I used 140C for all my cheesecakes)

To make base :
1. Butter only the sides of a 23cm springform pan.
2. In a bowl, mix the crushed biscuits and sugar.
3. Add the butter and rub it in well with your fingers.
4. Distribute the crumbs loosely but evenly in the pan and push them slightly up the sides.
5. Cover and chill while you make the filling.

Note : I melted the butter and mixed it into the crushed biscuits until they resembled wet sand. Then I distributed the mixture evenly and pressed them firmly on the base of the pan. I did not push the up the sides.

To make filling :
1. Using an electric mixer, cream the cream cheese, honey and sugar until light and fluffy.
2. Add eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition.
3. Then add in the remaining ingredients and continue to beat until evenly blended.
4. Pour the filling into the pan and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes. (I baked mine for about 50 minutes because it was already set and slightly browned).
5. Cool thoroughly on a rack, then cover, still in the pan and refrigerate for 12 hours before removing from the pan and slicing. (My cake pulled away from the sides when cooled so I removed the ring of the pan before chilling)
6. Dust the cheesecake with icing sugar before serving.



Photobucket

This post is linked to the event, Little Thumbs Up organised by Zoe of Bake for Happy Kids and Doreen of My Little Favourite DIY and hosted by Alvin of Chef and Sommelier.




This post is also linked to Cook-Your-Books #2 hosted by Joyce of Kitchen Flavours.

52 comments:

  1. Hi Phong Hong, I you baked cheesecakes regularly like I bake cottony cakes. Are cheesecakes your favourite? Very tempting cake.... I used these dates only for cookies.

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    1. Kimmy, I love cheesecake! But I have to eat very sparingly or else......

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  2. Cheesecakes my favourite. Your cheesecake is of a unique flavour to me. Bet it taste absolutely great.

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    1. Mel, I was very surprised that it tasted quite good!

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  3. My husband love to eat dates. Must bake for him. With this wonderful sinful delicious cake, sure he will buy me another Bally handbag...hahaha. Thanks.

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    1. Amy, if hubby likes dates then he will like this cheesecake. It's worth the effort for the Bally handbag hee..hee...

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  4. looks good....but but but, I am missing your recipes for savoury food...please please pretty please :)

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    1. Heh..heh..heh...don't worry, savoury dishes coming up soon because I have already run out of bakes :)

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  5. So makan Carbonara pening, makan cheesecake tak pening pula, kekeke ..this cheesecake sound kind of interesting with ginger..

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    1. Sonia, if the cheesecake got no vanilla essence, I will sure pening also hee..hee...

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  6. Wow, this looks gorgeous, Phong Hong. Great dessert!

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    1. Thanks, Cheah! I was pleasantly surprised that it tasted so good :)

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  7. Hi Phong Hong,
    That story of the postcard cartoon is so funny! You had me in giggles!
    "Biskut dah lemau", we called it "biskut dah masuk angin"! hahaha! In English, no idea!!! I guess we just say it, biscuit no longer crispy!!
    Your cheesecake looks good! I have never tried one with dates before!
    Cream cheese without vanilla makes you pening? You are so funny! I have not tried blue cheese before!
    Thank you for sharing with CYB!

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    1. Joyce, I guess certain expressions can't be translated! This cheesecake got me a bit worried because of the unusual combination. But so happy it turned out very good. I can't stand the smell of cream cheese lah. That's why I add vanilla essence to Cotton Soft Japanese Cheesecake even though the recipe doesn't say so :)

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  8. Bahahahahahha at the gingernut joke! This reminds me I should stock up on these beautiful dates to make desserts, they usually vanish after Ramadhan!

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    1. Kelly, I am starting to appreciate dates!

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  9. Very interesting flavors Phong Hong, I love dates and always look forward to this raya period so I can get some dates to enjoy:D Love your cheesecake alot, looks so creamy!

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    1. Jeannie, the combination of dates and ginger sounded very strange but it turned out to be really good!

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  10. Hi PH! I'm sure all of us are glad that you took the risk on this recipe!!!

    Ginger with dates in cheesecake! I have not tried before but it (the combination) makes very good sense to me! Would love to try it one day! :D

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    1. Alvin, get the missus to bake this for the family! I was very pleased that the cake turned out so delicious and if not for your chosen ingredient, I would not have ventured out so bravely :)

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  11. Used to love this type of cheesecakes - even tried making my own...but I had an overdose. Now I would not want any if I can help it. Love the Japanese baked cotton cheesecake though...

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    1. Arthur, this type of cheesecake can be very "jelak" if you eat too much of it. The cotton cheesecake however is so light that you feel you can eat the whole cake hah! hah!

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  12. Hi, Phong Hong. You are so "pandai" and so "adventurous" to have bske this cake, looks delicious ang wonderful. I enjoy reading your post!

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    1. Jozelyn, thank you! thank you! I had only one slice and quickly gave away the rest :)

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  13. Hi PH, this is an interesting cake and you are quite bold to try this exotic flavor. Oh, and i enjoyed the humor served on the side with this cake, both the date palm and the postcard ;)

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    1. Thank you! The recipe sounded so exotic and normally I am not so adventurous to try strange stuff hah! hah! But it was worth it, will be repeated in the future :)

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  14. Hi Kak Phong Hong,
    I never tried dates in baking before.
    Sounds like a interesting combi, can i have a piece please..:p
    Thanks you so much for trying this lovely cake out and sharing with LTU!!

    Cheers!!
    mui

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    1. mui mui, aiya! I give away all already hee..hee...If you like dates then maybe you can try baking this cheesecake. Very nice!

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  15. The flavours of this cheesecake are so interesting. Dates and ginger do sound like they would go very well together in this creamy cheesecake!

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    1. Mich, honestly I didn't think the combination would work but I took the risk. And I was proven wrong as it tasted so good :)

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  16. lovely cake. Hmmm not keen on dates too coz feel its too sweet but i do drink red dates drinks la

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    1. Thanks! I am not crazy about dates but they tasted quite good in the cheesecake.

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  17. Your cheesecake looks fantastic PH! Now you are really living up your blogname eh, you've been baking up a storm this month :).

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    1. Thanks, Esther! Yeah, I am getting the hang of baking and enjoying it very much :)

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  18. Phong Hong, you're very brave to try this strange new recipe!Thumbs up to you! :)

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    1. Yah, hor? Luckily the cheesecake turned out quite good. Try it one day, Esther!

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  19. I'm licking my lips when looking at your cheesecake, hahaha!

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    1. Jessie, this cheesecake tasted quiet good! I was so happy. Wish I could wallop another slice but I quickly stop myself and tapau the rest to give away!

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  20. dates to me are synonymous with ramadan, or if it's red dates, then chinese medicinal soup! I too disliked dates until I tried sticky date pudding! Your cheesecake looks really yummy though!

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    1. Janine, my next project is sticky date pudding! I heard about it and since I have quiet a bit of dates leftover, I might as well give it a go.

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  21. I think I've seen (and maybe sent) one of those naughty Scottish postcards before. My hubby always gets asked if he has anything on under his kilt... haha people seem to be fascinated with that!

    Delicious cake btw. Oh yeah I'm hosting LTU in Aug, the theme is eggs. Please support yea ;)

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    1. Hah! Hah! Yen, I guess you know the answer, huh? Sure I will support you on LTU. I love eggs!!

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  22. Hi Phong Hong,

    I laughed reading that you are baking this "strange" recipe because of LTU's ginger theme! I must admit that theme cooking / baking do help inspiring me with lots of food ideas...

    I'm happy that you are enjoying cooking and baking for this event and also enjoying this yummy cake :D

    Zoe

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    1. Thanks, Zoe! I agree that the chosen ingredients motivate me to try new things. Definitely great to hop on the LTU wagon!

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  23. Hi Phong Hong ,
    Wow! What a lovely combination & so exotic cheesecake! I was just imagining those camels & exotic belly dancers not forgetting Mr Macsomething with his kilt tasting this yummy exotic cheesscake! Actually I was imagining Gerald Butler with his kilt! LOL My hubby is a huge fan of dates . Love to try this delicious & flavourful recipe with G.B ! wink-wink hehehe I'm actually making some Middle East Ramadan goodies & dates is mostly part of the ingredients .

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    1. Kit, you a fan of GB huh? Too macho for me hah! hah! If your hubby is a huge fan of dates then you can bake this cheesecake for him. Looking forwards to seeing your Middle Eastern goodies if you are posting them :)

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  24. Phong Hong, your smooth as 'silk' luscious cheese cake with the dates...which I do love, is seriously calling my name!

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    1. Elisabeth, then you must answer it's call! Hope you try this recipe which I am sure you will love :)

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  25. Hi Phong Hong, your cheese cake look so silky and luscious.....The combination look good and interesting recipe. I love cheesecake too, great to go with coffee. :)

    Best regards.

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    1. Amelia, this cheesecake is rather tasty. Hope you will try it someday :)

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  26. PH!!! Aiyo I miss you lar...hahaha...this cheesecake look and am sure taste yummylicious !!! I want to eat some .. :)

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    1. Hi Yuss! Bake this cheesecake when you are free :)

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