My husband has a super sweet tooth. Usually he prefers store bought cookies for I generally compromise sweetness a bit for health sake. However, the cheesecake I make every year on his birthday in November is the best cake ever for him. He makes sure he has a big piece on his birthday and the remaining cake is all his dessert for about a week.
Strained low fat plain yogurt is used to add an extra level of creaminess to the finished cheesecake; it also brings out the sweetness from the subtle flavour of the squash. The resultant cake has a beautiful color, extremely smooth set with much lower fat than a typical cheesecake, and rich, sweet and refreshing flavor. The cake is beautiful itself alone. Even better, once people bite the sesame candy brittle, the whole room is filled with aroma and by then I'm drunk by the aroma.
Here is how to get drunk by the cake:
Tools I used:
A piece of white muslin fabric larger than the large sieve
You certainly can use any equivalent or better tools, such as a food processor in place of coffee grinder and the stick blender. Although I cook a loooot, I actually don't have many sophisticated kitchen tools. So I'm drunk and dreaming of the KitchenAid mixer. Let's see.
Ingredients I used:
For the crust
100g home freshly roasted walnuts (To roast walnut, see notes at the end of ingredients list)
75g dark brown sugar
2 tbsp home freshly toasted sesame seeds (To toast sesame seeds, see notes at the end of ingredients list)
50g unsalted butter, cubed
75g all purpose flour
½ tsp cinnamon
For the filling
400g cooked butternut squash
150g baker's ultra fine sugar
Finely grated zest of an orange
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 package cream cheese (230-300g)
1 package (907g) strained plain low fat yogurt, about 400g
5 medium eggs
For the candy garnish
100g baker's ultra fine sugar
25 ml water
2 tbsp home freshly toasted sesame seeds
To roast walnut: Cut whole walnut to smaller pieces, roast it at 350F for 5 minutes, stir it and roast it for another 5 minutes).
To toast sesame seeds: Please refer to my previous Instruactables: Sesame candy rolls and strings.
Step 1: Gather the Ingredients
Gathering all the ingredients is the beginning of baking the cake, like a birth. Once you pass this step, the cake is already half baked.
Almost all the ingredients can be found in town, except a couple of them to which I provided online links.
Step 2: Strain the Yogurt
Wash a few times the muslin fabric and hang it to dry.
At least 24 hours before baking the cake, pour the plain low fat yogurt into a large sieve lined with the muslin and sat over a deep bowl. Place this in the fridge for at least 24 hours, and you'll be left with a thick yoghurt the
consistency of soft cheese. (The liquid is whey and can be used in place of water in baking bread)
Step 3: The Cake Bottom: Crust
Line the bottom of your springform cake pan with parchment paper which will help you slide the cake off the bottom easily when baked.
Grind the walnuts, sugar and sesame seeds until fine. I used coffee grinder.
Add the butter, flour and cinnamon, and work into a dough.
Press this into the base of the tin evenly.
Bake at 350F for about 20 minutes, then leave until cold.
Step 4: The Cake Middle: Filling
Peel the squash, chop into cubes, microwave, uncovered, without any water, until very tender. (Mine took three bursts of 5 minutes on cooking, stirring in-between.) Leave until cold, uncovered. The drier the cooked squash the better. (If any residue water, drain it).
Mash the squash.
Add sugar, orange zest and vanilla, mix.
Add the cream cheese, mix again.
Add the strained yogurt and eggs and blend until smooth. I used immersion stick blender.
Line the insides of the tin with a band of parchment paper, pour in the filling.
Step 5: Bake the Cake
Bake at 325F for 70 minutes or until there's only a slight wobble in the middle, or until the center reaches 154F on a temperature probe. Leave to cool on a wire rack then chill to set firmly.
Step 6: The Cake Top Garnish: Sesame Candy
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Put 100g ultra fine baker's sugar in the saucepan with about 25ml water, bring it to a boil then cook until you have
a light golden caramel. This can be the hardest step if you haven't made candy before. It takes time for the sugar to go through stages before becoming clear light yellow liquid, a challenge for somebody like me who hasn't patience. At that point, it takes no time to burn. So you have to stand by all the time and have the sesame seeds ready. (The last picture in this step shows my burnt batch of candy)
Add 2 tbsp sesame seeds, swirl the pan to mix them. Spread spoonfuls of the toffee on to the baking sheet lined
with parchment paper, either in free form or use cookie cutter, or in droplets. I fell in love with the droplets and made a bunch of it, had a whale of time making it.
Leave it to harden, then break them up and store them in an air tight container in a dry cool place or in fridge or freezer if you don't use them right away. If you leave the candy at room temperature in summer, you may not know to laugh or cry if one day your husband or children get cuts when they try to eat the candy out of the container as it'll become one big chunk sticking to the container.
Step 7: Serve the Cake
Right before presenting/serving/cutting, arrange the candy garnish whatever way pleases you.
Cut into it.
Make this recipe ready for requesters.
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