I didn't make this cake for Christmas, I made it for my brother's birthday a couple weeks ago. But I thought I'd share it with you guys because it is SO GOOD, and it's red and green so it's still relevant to the season. I've made plain Japanese cotton soft cheesecake before, the such a magical hybrid of cheesecake and sponge cake but this one has a Malaysian spin to it. This one is flavoured with pandan, and the cake is filled with kaya. If you've read my blog for a while and you don't know what either of those are then I will be sad. I've written about it a lot. Pandan-flavoured stuff is awesome. Kaya is AWESOME. This cake is awesome.
The pandan flavouring gives the cake that neon green hue, and I think the strawberries work really well as a topping, both looks and flavourwise. The super light and soft pandan cheesecake is fun alternative to the usual pandan chiffon cake, and it works really well as a cheesecake flavour. Because the cake itself is so light and has a bit of a tangy flavour from the cream cheese, it goes well with that thick layer of coconut jam in the middle. Kaya is the sort of thing that shouldn't be eaten in moderation.
I'm silly and completely forgot that I needed to bake cakes in a water bath, which is why the outside is a little browner than you might expect. But when you cut into the cake it looks pretty impressive. If you couldn't be bothered splitting the cake into two separate layers you can bake it as one cake and spread the kaya on top instead. And if you can't be bothered making your own kaya or buying some from the Asian supermarket, you could try filling the cake with some coconut flavoured cream.
Anyway, I wanted to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I hope everyone has a safe and happy holidays. I'll be back next year with more sugary, buttery recipes!
Pandan Cotton Soft Cheesecake with Kaya
(serves 12, adapted from this recipe from Diana's Desserts)
140g/5 oz fine granulated sugar
6 egg whites
6 egg yolks
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
50g/2 oz butter
250g/9 oz cream cheese
100 ml/3 fluid oz fresh milk
2 tsp pandan paste (you will need more if using pandan essence, adjust to taste)
1 tbsp lemon juice
50g/1.75 oz plain/all-purpose flour
30g/1 oz cornflour (cornstarch)
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup kaya (Malaysian coconut jam, available at most Asian groceries or here's a recipe to make your own)
Optional: Fresh strawberries or other fruit to decorate
Preheat oven to 160°C (320°F). Grease base and sides, and line the base of two 18cm round cake tins with baking paper. Melt cream cheese, butter and milk over a double boiler. Cool the mixture. Fold in the flour, the cornflour, egg yolks, lemon juice and pandan paste and mix well. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk egg whites with cream of tartar until foamy. Add in the sugar and whisk until soft peaks form. Add cream cheese mixture to egg white mixture and stir until combined. Split mixture between the two cake tins. Bake cheesecake in a water bath (I forgot the water bath, this isn't the end of the world it will just be a little drier on the outside) for about 50 mins or until set and golden brown at 160°C (320°F).
When cakes are ready, cool them very slowly to stop the cakes from collapsing in the centre. Turn the oven off first for 5 mins, then open the oven door and let it cool for another 10 mins, then cool in tin for 15 mins. Remove from tin and cool completely on a wire rack. Sandwich the two cake layers together with the kaya in between. I topped my cake with strawberries, which had been hulled, halved and marinated in sugar for an hour. Serve immediately or store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to about 3 days.