My friend Pete makes the best ramen. And I don't mean your 25-cent ramen packets that college kids live off of. I mean something like this:
It takes several days to put the broth together, and to gather all the ingredients. There are different styles and flavors and he hopes to open a ramen shop one day. I have a feeling if he ever does, Joe and I are going to blow all our money on it.
There is no ramen shop in St Louis yet, but we're lucky enough to be invited to be his guinea pigs as he tests out different noodles and broth recipes. We've never had a bad dish, not to mention his plating is gorgeous and he makes a rather sexy soft-boiled egg.
If you have Netflix, watch the ramen episode of Mind of a Chef and it'll give you some insight on the complexities of ramen. If you've experienced real ramen at a restaurant (the good ones are on the east and west coasts, notably Momofuku Bar in NYC), you'll know what I'm talking about. After watching Mind of a Chef I was much more impressed with Pete because it's a far more time- and labor-intensive than I imagined, and we're so incredibly lucky to have a friend who enjoys making it and sharing it with us.
So when he does these 'ramen nights', I usually offer to make a Japanese-style dessert. The first time, I made a vertical swiss roll cake with green tea (AKA matcha) and raspberry jam. The second time, I made a Japanese cotton-soft cheesecake with a whipped mascarpone frosting. The third time, I drove straight from ATL just for it, so we ate all the Atlanta desserts I had driven up.
This time, I opted to make this cheesecake I'd been eying on a pretty awesome blog I discovered, Hungry Rabbit. His cake creations are amazing.
I changed up a few of the ingredients--I loved the look of the dessert but didn't have individual cheesecake pans (especially not enough for 14 people) so I opted for a 10-inch pan instead and thus had to scale up the recipe a bit.
I also used digestives for the base, added a knob of ginger to the green tea cheese filling, and made a larger amount of black sesame versus matcha. I was worried everyone wouldn't like the heavy dose of green tea but they all devoured it. Success!
It was the perfect dessert to follow a hot bowl of creamy ramen.
I'm definitely making this again for my friends in Atlanta.
Matcha Black Sesame Cheesecake
Adapted from here
Makes one 10-inch cheesecake
1 1/4 cup Digestives or animal crackers or ginger cookies, in crumbs
4 tbs butter, melted
3 tbs toasted black sesame seeds
3 tbs granulated sugar
pinch of salt
3 8-ounce packets of cream cheese
1/3 cup + 1/6 cup sour cream
3 eggs, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp almond extract
3 tbs all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
4 tbs matcha powder (plus more for dusting the top)
1/2 tbs ground/minced ginger
3/4 cup black sesame powder
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Spray/butter a springform 10-inch cake pan, generously (I also lined the bottom with parchment paper).
Press into the bottom and a little bit up the sides of the pan, using the bottom of a glass to press down evenly.
Bake for 15-18 minutes until deeply golden.
Let cool completely.
Wrap the bottom of the pan with foil on all sides (I would recommend doing this with 4 layers of foil to ensure no water gets to the cake, which has happened to me many times before until I did it this way).
Beat the cream cheese on medium with an electric beater for a couple of minutes.
Scrape down the bowl so all of the cream cheese is combined.
Add in the sugar and flour and switch to low, letting it mix in.
Keep the beater on low, adding in the sour cream until combined, along with both the extracts.
Add in the eggs, one at a time until combined.
Divide the batter however you like (evenly if you want even amounts of black sesame and green tea).
Stir in the black sesame seeds in one half of the batter, and green tea powder and ginger in the other half.
Chill both mixtures for about 20 minutes (I did this to make sure the batters wouldn't melt together in the pan).
Once chilled, scrape the black sesame filling into the pan.
When adding the green tea batter, don't dump it all in the center, spread it by putting globs all over the top of the black sesame filling (unless you want them to mix, in which case dump it all in and use a toothpick to create a marbled look).
Use a spatula to gently smooth over the top.
Set the cake pan in a larger roasting pan with sides.
Pull a rack out of the oven half way and set the roasting pan on the rack.
Pour boiling hot water into the roasting pan, coming up about an inch to an inch and a half up the side of the pan.
Bake for 30-35 minutes or until only the center is slightly wobbly.
Turn off oven and leave door slightly ajar with a wooden spoon for about 40 minutes.
Remove and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
Sift green tea powder or powdered sugar over the top.
Another option to decorate would be to drizzle melted white chocolate over the top, or adorn with fresh raspberries or strawberries.