Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Chocolate Lemongrass Cheesecake


I would like to start by coming upfront to say that I was not happy with this cheesecake. When I saw the recipe, the thought of mixing chocolate with lemongrass sounded really weird (and proven to be so, to me at least) . I could not accept the idea but a search on Google proved to me that there is such a thing as Chocolate and Lemongrass MousseLemongrass Infused Chocolate Truffles and Lemongrass Dark Chocolate. Even with the existence of such recipes/products, I was still unconvinced but I was prepared to take a risk. This coming from someone who doesn't even like chocolate with mint. At stake was 625g of cream cheese and 12 stalks of lemongrass. What was I thinking?


The cheesecakes are baked in 250ml bottles and I thank my hoarding habit of stashing away empty bottles. In my cupboard I found 6 empty Lee Kum Kee sauce bottles (there were at least another 4 or 5 in there) that had been thoroughly cleaned with labels removed. I washed them again with detergent and put them away to dry. I admit that I was attracted to the photos in the cookbook. 



The water supply came back at about 9:30am and the first order of the day was to clean the house and get the laundry done. Before that, I cleaned and trimmed the lemongrass and took out the cream cheese for it to come to room temperature. It wasn't until 1pm that I could start making the cheesecake. The first step was to boil 4 coarsely chopped lemongrass in 200ml of milk. Then the other 8 stalks (12 in the recipe) are to be pounded and squeezed to obtain 2 teaspoons of lemongrass extract. I was too pooped out from vacuuming and mopping the floor to do that. That's when I dragged my Alpha Juicer out from hibernation. This juicer is really awesome (I haven't used it for at least 100 years) because you could literally squeeze blood out of stone with it. I managed to get about 3 teaspoons of extract from the 8 stalks of lemongrass.



I had lost steam in the midst of my household chores and was in two minds whether to head into unchartered territory. But the cream cheese was already out and I couldn't give up halfway. After preparing the batter, one portion is mixed with the lemongrass infused milk and lemongrass extract. At that point, the smell was quite pleasant. There was only a subtle hint of lemongrass which mingled with the vanilla extract. Not bad, I thought. The other portion of the batter is mixed with cocoa paste. After that, the batters are spooned into the bottles alternately. I found that quite messy and poured the batters into two measuring cups and it was much easier to pour the batter into the bottles. But still, I made a mess. 


One look and you know you are not in Ann Low's kitchen.

The cheesecakes are baked in a water bath and I had an accident. The water bath leaked before I could even place it into the oven. Hah...hah....what a day! Anyway, I corrected the situation and started cleaning up while the cheesecakes were baking.


Behind the scenes. For one or two pretty photos is a tornado of a mess in the kitchen.

The recipe said to bake for 1 hour and as we all know from experience, we have to monitor the oven. After 40 minutes, my cheesecakes were already overbaked. The top was hard and some were bulging. They smelt of chocolate. OK, everything seems fine. I left them to cool and chilled them overnight in the fridge.



The next morning I was quite eager to have a taste. I took one bottle out to stand at room temperature. Before that, I opened the cap and took a whiff. The lemongrass smell was very strong. Oh dear. After 20 minutes, I took a spoonful. If you want to know my reaction, it was so well captured by this cheesecake :


This cheesecake echoed my sentiments exactly. Urrghhhh......boh ho chiak...

The smell of milk and lemongrass was overpowering and the texture of the cheesecake was hard (due to overbaking). I was very disappointed. I am not saying that the recipe doesn't work but rather, this flavor combination is just not for me. Or maybe if I reduced the ratio of lemongrass, it might be more suited to my own tastes. Whatever it is, this experience has given me ideas on making other flavor combinations. I have also learnt how to bake in glass containers and in future I will be careful not to overbake the cakes. 




This recipe is a matter of taste. For instance, some people find lavender very pleasing in bakes but I don't like it. Same thing with mint chocolate. I can't accept the taste. But I love chocolate and orange (something which I didn't like previously). So it is up to you to decide if this flavor combination works for you.














Chocolate Lemongrass Cheesecake
Recipe source : Allan Bakes Really Good Cheesecakes (page 58)
A word to the wise : Proceed with caution

Ingredients :
Digestive Biscuit Base :
- 180g Digestive biscuits, finely crushed
- 125g melted butter

Filling :
- 200ml milk (I would just use 100ml milk without lemongrass)
- 16 stalks lemongrass, 4 coarsely chopped, 12 pounded and squeezed to obtain 2 tsp lemongrass extract (I recommend only 1 teaspoon of extract, ergo less lemongrass)
- 2 tbsp cocoa powder
- 1 tbsp chocolate emulco (I omitted because I don't have this)
- 3 tbsp warm water
- 675g cream cheese at room temperature
- 125ml sour cream 
- 200g light brown sugar (I reduced to 150g)
- 2 tbsp orange juice
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
- 2 large egg yolks
- 3 tbsp cornflour

Method :
1. Prepare 6 250ml wide mouth jars. Have ready a deep roasting pan large enough to hold jars.
2. To prepare base, combine crushed digestive biscuits with melted butter. Press 2-3 tbsp mixture int base of each jar, then freeze until ready to use.
3. Preheat oven to 160C (I used 140C)
4. In a heavy based saucepan, heat milk and chopped lemongrass over medium heat, stirring until milk starts to bubble. Remove from heat and strain milk. Measure about 100ml milk and leave to cool. (I recommend to skip this)
5. In a small bowl, mix cocoa powder, chocolate emulco and warm water into a paste. Set aside.
6. Using an electric mixture with a paddle attachment, beat cream cheese, sour cream, sugar, orange juice and vanilla extract at medium speed  until well mixed.
Reduce mixer speed and add eggs and egg yolks, beating for 20 seconds after each addition. Add cornflour and mix well.
7. Divide mixture into 2 portions. Add lemongrass milk (if using, if not, add 100ml milk) and lemongrass extract to one portion and mix well. Add cocoa mixture to the other portion  and mix well.
Place tablespoonfuls of each filling alternately into prepared jar until filling is used up.
8. Place jars in roasting pan and fill roasting pan with hot water until it reaches halfway up the side of jars.
Bake for 1 hour. (Check at 25-30 minutes to see if cake has set, if not continue and keep checking)
9. Turn oven off and leave cakes to cool in oven with oven door ajar. When cool, remove jars from water bath and refrigerate overnight.
10. Garnish as desired and serve chilled. (Can garnish with grated chocolate)






This post is linked to Cook-Your-Books #10 hosted by Joyce of Kitchen Flavours.

63 comments:

  1. Darling, I have to admit I don’t like lemongrass.. Some people I know are crazy over lemongrass fizzy drink.. They mix lemongrass, lime and 7-Up and they swear it’s the best in the world.. Yuck. Not for me.. Err, maybe it’s just me..

    Back to your lemongrass cheesecake.. I must say you took a (big) risk with this recipe, using 625g of cream cheese.. If I counted correctly, that’s 5 blocks of (125g) Philly cream cheese.. Not cheap you know? I’m very stingy when it comes to cheesecakes, coz Philly cream cheese is not cheap.. And if I have to make cheesecake, I always go for the no-bake one, coz I can make one cake with one block of (125g) cream cheese already.. If I go for the baked ones, I need at least 2-3 blocks, call me kiamsap..

    Whoa, the (Lee Kum Kee) jars are oven-safe? If me, I very takut the jars will crack leh if I bake it in the oven.. But anyway, last last, your cheese cakes came out fine.. It still looked good in the pictures.. I would love to taste it if I have the chance. Anything with cream cheese is expensive, I sure wallop all.. So you dig in with a spoon and habiskan the whole jar?

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    1. Madam, nowadays to save money, I use Tatura cream cheese. It is not that cheap but cheaper than Philly cream cheese. For me, lemongrass is better in savoury dishes. When I was extracting the juice, I kept thinking of kari kapitan.

      Hey, I did not even think if the glass jars are safe. Luckily nothing bad happened. As long as there is no sudden change in temperature, it should be OK. If the lemongrass smell had not been too strong, this cheesecake would have been very good. I think you can finish 2 jars in one go :)

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  2. hmmmm. chocolate and lemongrass?? this is something new, exciting and exotic combination i would say.. have not tried that actually, but i have tried lemon pepper corn chocolates and also chili chocolates, they taste quite okay.. the main thing is that, chocolate should actually be the main thing and whatever lemon, chili, lemongrass, pepper, mint, orange etc should only be just a hint, not too much else you may find it weird..

    actually i like the combination of chocolate and orange too.. :)

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    1. SK, the taste was too exotic for me or rather the smell was too strong. If I had the foresight to reduce the lemongrass extract, the cheesecake would have been OK. I think the baking intensified the aroma. Before baking, the smell was quite subtle and pleasant.

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    2. hmmm, now you learnt something huh?? so will there be a second time?? or you would rather stick to the less exotic and "safer" flavors?? :p

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    3. SK, I think I'll keep my lemongrass for Kari Kapitan hee..hee....

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  3. Hi Phong Hong,
    When I read the title, I do find it weird and it is unique for lemongrass, chocolate and cream cheese go together. And I am at the same time trying imagining the taste too. One thing I like to ask you....can this glass jar really can be put in oven to bake!?? Wont they break and crack in hot oven? I have a recipe dessert and saw the pic that the dessert was baked in glass container and I was really hesitate in doing so.

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    1. Hi Mel! The jars were OK. No cracks (if fact I didn't even think of this possibility) and as long as there is no sudden change in temperature, they won't break.

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  4. Hi Phong Hong,

    What an co-incidence that one of your cheesecake has a sad face!!! I'm sorry to hear that this cheesecake is over-powering with lemongrass. I would prefer to use lemongrass only for savoury cooking too.

    Zoe

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    1. Hi Zoe, a bad/good experience I would say! I also think that lemongrass is more suited for savoury dishes too. That sad faced cheesecake really amused me when I saw it. It was a perfect opportunity to put it up on the post :)

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  5. Oh, all i can say is that 1 man's favourite is another man's poison. the very good cheesecake has become...may be next time can use orange juice instead hoh? I could see that u had so much to clean after the baking, come, let me belanjar you with some yummy japanese salad.

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    1. Jessie, I was thinking of orange too! Yes, so much cleaning up hah...hah....Oh, I can''t wait to try your yummy Japanese salad dressing. Must do it this Sunday!

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  6. Wow, this is so wonderfully done. would love to try this. yum yum

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    1. Hi Swasthi! Oh, do be careful not to put too much lemongrass extract :)

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  7. Hi Phong Hong, very extra-ordinary cheesecake with lemongrass, some more using glass jars. I won't dare try this recipe without recommendation. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Kimmy, now that I know what it is like, I will discourage you from trying this cheesecake hah...hah...better to use the lemongrass to cook curry hee...hee....

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    2. Thanks Phong Hong for the advice.

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  8. Hi Phong Hong, you are so daring. If I were you I will make 1/2 of the recipe. I can imagine how it tastes. I always like to read your post they are interesting and make me laugh. Thanks for sharing your interesting baking experience. Bravo.

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    1. Hi Veronica! Thank you for reading my posts :) I want to try unusual things but most of the time I am not that daring. But I don't regret this experience because I learnt how to bake in jars!

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  9. both the method and the ingredients are rather unusual! I am not sure if I like it:)

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    1. Ola, save the lemongrass for Asian curries hah..hah...

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  10. Phong Hong, Chocolate + lemongrass + cheese, I was wondering what it taste like?
    Can I try some? hehe...

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    1. Esther, I think you won't like it hah...hah....

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  11. Hi Phong Hong,
    You are very adventurous in trying out new flavours, that I must salute you! Sometimes I "teragak-agak" when it comes to flavour combinations such as this, and most time I chicken out. Haha! Using 675gm of cream cheese is not cheap, next time try a third or half of the recipe first for testing!
    I can't help smiling at the "picture" of the face in your cheesecake which reflects exactly how you feel! Cute!

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    1. Hi Joyce! I am becoming bolder am I not? I am normally very "kia see" when trying things which I am not familiar with but somehow this one caught my fancy. I'll stick to more conventional stuff from now on hah...hah,...

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  12. Lemongrass and chocolate sounds interesting, something i wouldn't mind tasting but wouldn't dare make, i would most probably have to finish it all by myself! Hmm, wonder if you have any left for me to try ;p

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    1. Yes, it does sound very interesting and it could work if the lemongrass flavour had been more subtle. Ah, I should have sent some to you hah...hah...

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  13. Your cake looks yum but l really do wonder it taste like.A lot of work involve you are very ragen and very adventurous to try something new never mind don't like the cake can give to Bak chang to eat Ha-Ha

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    1. I dare not give the cake to anyone hah..hah....

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  14. First thought....argh...messy bowls....no water...headache....

    second thought....those looks yummy lah....

    guess have to store this recipe for a day where water supplies is back to normal

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    1. Yah....but that day got water. If want to do this recipe, remember to put less lemongrass if not muka jadi kecut.

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  15. Hmmm...looks rich, must be real yummy!

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    1. I wish that it was yummy. Too much lemongrass spoiled it :(

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  16. Hi Phong Hong...

    Lemongrass with cheese and chocolate? I salute you because you dared to try out this recipe! If I were as daring as you, I'd be slightly timid as I would only bake half or maybe just quarter of the recipe. 675g cream cheese is a lot and even Tatura Cheese will cost you more than RM13 without discount! But then again, you'll never know... until you've tried! ;) I don't think I will... hehehehe...

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    1. MamaFaMi, curiosity killed the cat hah...hah....If I had been more conservative with the lemongrass, this cheesecake would have turned out well. But I think this recipe kalau tak cuba pun tak apa hah...hah....

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  17. Phong Hong...so sorry for not commenting sooner. Besides my grief over my kitty, I had my first cousin visiting me for 10 days...been nursing her back to health (she got very ill, had to take her on her 2nd day to the emergency, nearly went into a sugar coma from her diabetes which I didn't even know she had)

    Your lemon grass chocolate cheesecake is not only a genius recipe...but making it in a jar, is super clever. My daughter gave me a cookbook that she received from its author; all desserts made in a jar...wasn't sure I liked it, so I donated it...I now, want it back, but nice to see how the recipe works in a jar! Love it, and sooo yummy! xoxo

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    1. Hi Elisabeth! Don't worry about not commenting sooner. I totally understand that we all have other stuff to do :) I know it is hard for you to get over Mush. I do hope that your cousin is getting proper care for her diabetes.

      About the recipe, even though it didn't work out so well, I am glad for the experience. Baking in jars is quite nice, you don't have to slice the cake!

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    1. Thank you, Michelle! I appreciate your invitation very much!

      Delete
  19. I have the same cookbook, all looks so beautiful, did you try other recipe in the book yet?

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    1. Hi Sem! This is the first recipe that I have tried. Will be trying more!

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  20. I do like the smell of lemongrass and use it in savoury cooking but never in desserts. I have seen a restaurant selling Thai curry chocolate cake before, I wonder how that is like too?

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    1. Hi Yen! Thai curry choc cake? That is really too exotic for me hah...hah....

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  21. Hi Phong Hong, I love lemon grass fragrant scent in rice and curry but ....with chocolate and cheese, it may sound weird to me. But your cheesecake in jar look good to me. Thanks for sharing your recipe.

    Have a nice weekend.

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    1. Hi Amelia, I think it is best to leave lemongrass for the savory stuff or mixed with citrus drinks. I don't think I will repeat this recipe :)

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  22. Hi Phong Hong, you are very daring in experiment this dessert. I love lemongrass very much but would't dare to mix with chocolate and cheese. It sounds really weird to me. So far I only tasted Chilli Chocolate and I liked it very much.

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    1. Hi Cecilia! I have heard of chilli chocolate but have never tried it before. If you liked it, I think I might like it as well!

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  23. hello phong hong! sorry to come by late! not sure if i like this choc cheese lemongrass..nvr try nvr know :)...i was chuckling away and enjoyed reading your post even though the cheesecake did not live up to your expectation :) have a nice weekend!

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    1. Hi Lena! Don't worry about being late. I am thinking of tweaking this recipe with other flavours. But can't experiment now because got no water :(

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  24. oh btw, i saw your zebra cake . Very nice!

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    1. Thanks, Lena! I like it too hee..hee...

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  25. Hahaha, how you were able to take that sad face of cheesecake, very cute lar! ya, difference people has difference taste buds, if you don't like this combo, don't attempt again! Anyway, I love lemongrass, but with chocolate, cant really figure out the taste..

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    1. Sonia, this combo not suitable for me. I think you will also have sad face when tasting this cheesecake hee...hee...

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  26. I admire your adventurous spirit! Thanks for sharing even though it didn't work out well.

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  27. Wow, what a day. At least you tried it :)
    I have never tried lemongrass. I wouldn't know what to do with it. Who would have thought to put it in cheesecake? Maybe I would like it..

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    1. Hi Cathleen! If you ever cross paths with a lemongrass, use it for Asian savoury dishes. With cheesecake, it is a risk! But then again, who knows it might be your thing :)

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  28. Hi Phong Hong,
    What a keen sharing person you are !
    Salute for your daring to try out something new,appreciate your selfless and humour sharing.
    Because of you I think I will try this Chocolate Lemongrass Cheesecake one day ,i will bear in mind your reminder, cut down the amount of lemongrass extract. Thanks.
    Totally agree with you ,"For one or two pretty photos is a tornado of a mess in the kitchen". ha .....

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    1. Hi Aunty Young! Thank you for your kind and supportive words! Yes, if you reduced the lemongrass extract, you might find this cheesecake very fragrant. Good luck!

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  29. Lemon grass cheesecake? This is something extraordinary and new to me..Love the lemon grass smell...

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    1. Angeline, lemongrass smells nice but too much of it can be overpowering as in the case of this cheesecake. This recipe was a bit too exotic for me hah...hah...

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  30. Hi Phong Hong,
    Sorry for my less and late visit :p

    The other day I was reading this cheesecake recipe book too. This lemongrass chocolate is a unique combo but I rather use lemongrass for cooking :D The sad face on the cheesecake is very cute ler!
    mui

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    1. Hi mui mui! Don't worry too much about that. Come when you are free, I know we are all so busy, me included :) You are right, lemongrass is better for cooking. Hee...hee...I also like that sad face cake :D

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