It’s not every day that someone entrusts you with making their birthday cake. Okay, maybe if you’re a parent, then fine, that is expected to a degree, but I’m still at least 6 years too young to be fathering a child. Anyways, my friend, Wanli wanted me to make her boyfriend a birthday gift (she was even willing to PAY me
holy shit, what an honor!) So after consulting with her over her boyfriend’s preferences, she told me about this cheesecake that they enjoyed when they went to the Aria Resort’s bakery in Las Vegas. Obscure, am I right? I literally had to narrow down what kind of cheesecake it was. Was is a baked American-styled cheesecake, or a cotton cheesecake, or a rare cheesecake? It didn’t even dawn upon me how many kinds of cheesecakes there were in the world, but yeah, that’s probably why a factory for them exists! After about 30 minutes of sending each other pictures over FaceBook to figure out what kind of cheesecake it was, I came to the realization that it was like a hybrid of a rare cheesecake (it being like a set mousse) and a cotton cheesecake (it being very souffle-like). That sort of cheesecake is similar to both the ones served at Chantilly Bakery in Lomita and Dominique Ansel’s beautiful cotton cheesecake. Additionally, Wanli went on to tell me how her boyfriend loves light flavors (so no chocolate insert sad face here) and especially citrus like lime and lemon. So I figured, let’s work in as much citrus as fucking possible!
So the inspiration for the cheesecake’s flavors comes from Wanli’s request, being that there is lemon, strawberry, or lime flavoring in there, in this case, I stuck with lemon. I wanted to contrast that, so I’m making a black sesame genoise to act like the crust for the mousse and a lemon-honey-ginger “veil” so that I can cover up any
fuck-ups blemishes on the cheesecake itself. The dessert itself is ovo-vegetarian, solely because I need eggs to make the genoise, but the mousse is vegetarian and the veil would have been vegan had I omitted the honey, though I know some vegans would still argue that honey is vegan-friendly, but whatever, I’m not going to rock the boat on that one. I want the color scheme to be light and colorful, being a contrast between white, black, and yellow. It’s to represent Wanli and her boyfriend’s dynamic, which I can only imagine is very playful at the surface, but very adult beneath. Wink wink. Not in that way, pervs. Adult as in they’re both very mature people and act a lot older than their age. Get your mind out of the gutter said the hypocritically perverted 12-year old looking person.
Makes enough for 8:
For black sesame genoise:
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 egg whites
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons lemon zest
2 tablespoons black sesame powder
3 tablespoons canola oil
a pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a bowl, whip up the eggs and sugar into ribbon stage. Take a portion of the eggs and mix that into the oil, zest, and black sesame. Pour that back into the egg-sugar mixture and fold in the sifted flour. Bake in a sprayed 9×9 round pan for 25 minutes. Once baked, cool and remove the cake. Either set into a metal cylinder for entremets or using aluminum foil and cooking spray, create a cylinder around the cake. This will be used later to hold the mousse.
For honeyed lemons:
1 lemon; sliced
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup water
a pinch of salt
Bring the honey, water, and salt to a boil. Add in the lemon slices and allow them to sit off heat for about 10 minutes. Transfer slices to a lined baking tray and bake at 215 degrees for 2 1/2 hours. Reserve the liquid; you can use it to soak the genoise should it be too dry.
For lemon-ricotta mousse (heavily adapted from Dominique Ansel’s recipe):
2 cups ricotta cheese
1 teaspoon gelatin powder + 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 lemon’s worth of finely grated zest or peels
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
Reduce together the lemon juice and peels. Add in the bloomed gelatin powder and sugar then melt into the syrup. Strain into the ricotta cheese and whip until it is a homogenous mixture. Whip the heavy cream into stiff peaks. Fold into the ricotta cheese-lemon mixture. Transfer to a piping bag. Pipe mixture into the cylinder mold that is holding the cake beneath it. Allow to freeze for 3 hours before removing the mold.
For lemon-ginger-honey veil:
3 lemons worth of juice
1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger
3 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 tablespoons agar agar
In a pot, reduce the ingredients together until it becomes opaque in color. Pour onto a nonstick surface and spread as thinly as possible. Allow it to solidify in the refrigerator. Using a cookie cutter, cut out the desired shapes (I made them heart shaped per Wanli’s request). Transfer to a nonstick baking surface.
Assembly: Take the frozen cheesecake and remove it from the mold. Garnish with the veil and lemon slices and allow to thaw in the fridge (2-3 more hours). Serve cold!
If you want to make your own ricotta cheese:
1/2 gallon whole fat milk
1/3 cup lemon juice
In a pot, heat up the milk to about 200 degrees F. Add in the lemon juice and coagulate. Once the curds begin to separate from the whey, strain. Reserve the curds for the ricotta. The whey, you can drink it (it’s high in protein!) or reserve it for other usages that I’ll have to do more research to figure out about.