04 November 2010

Miso cheesecake

About a year ago, we visited the delightful restaurant Providence in Los Angeles.  The food there is exquisite.  But the dish that I've been dreaming about over all that time is their miso cheesecake.  I had been initially unenthusiastic, because, well... cheesecake:
I confess, I was prepared to be bored by the dessert in this tasting menu. It was miso cheesecake. I'm not a huge cheesecake fan. It's often heavy, and too sweet. Cheesecake done well can be quite good, but it's a little boring, and I was hoping to be excited by the food at Providence.
Well, it wasn't cheesecake.  What they brought out was more a panna cotta (at the time I thought it was a flan, but later reconsidered).


And it was amazing.  Look at that, all nestled in black sesame crust goodness, with peach and a sorbet.  I still swoon thinking about that dessert.

I spent the last year attempting to recreate it as a panna cotta, and while I created some tasty things, nothing really sung in the way that this dessert did.  Miso, gelatin and cream.  Miso, gelatin, cream and dark molasses.  Miso, gelatin, cream and vanilla.  Fail, fail, fail.  On the advice of the lovely folks at Two Foodies - One Journey, I contacted Providence directly.  And I'm so glad that I did.  Adrian Vasquez, the pastry chef at Providence sent me the recipe.
cream cheese at room temperature*
red miso
sugar
water
sheet gelatin

* I'm leaving quantities blank until I hear from Adrian that he doesn't mind me publishing the recipe
And this list shows why I was failing previously.  The name of the dessert gives the secret away.  I had only been trying to make a miso panna cotta.  But the reason they call it miso cheesecake is they include cream cheese.

Start by re-hydrating the gelatin in ice water.  Soak the sheets individually in ice water while you prepare the other materials.

Gelatin sheet

Heat the sugar and water, stirring, until the sugar dissolves.  Then add the cream cheese, a tablespoon at a time, whisking well after each addition.  Remove from heat.  Whisk in the red miso.  Then remove the gelatin from the ice water bath, and squeeze out the excess water.  The gelatin will be all swollen, flexible (but fragile).  Add the gelatin to the cheesecake mixture.

Pour into serving ramekins, and chill in the fridge, covered, for 6-8 hours.

At serving time, remove from the fridge.  Run a knife around the outside of the panna cotta, then hold the bottom of the ramekin in a bowl of hot water for a few seconds.  Immediately invert on to a plate and shake gently to unmold.

Providence serves this with a sorbet and stone fruit, and I discovered that this dessert abslolutely requires an acid counterpoint.  Indeed, given the rich flavour (another commonality it shares with cheesecake), this panna cotta should be served in small servings.  But it. is. amazing.

Miso panna cotta

I served it with a small scoop of pomegranate-thyme sorbet.  A beautiful acidic complement, for a spectacular dessert.

7 comments:

Mike said...

Looks fantastic - and very cool of the chef to give up the recipe.

Mary said...

That's looks creamy and delicious.

Bbq Dude said...

It was fabulous. And super cool of them to share.

Hiroyuki said...

Aha! That thread of yours on eGullet about miso cheesecake was mysterious to me, but your post here solves everything. "Rare" (unbaked) cheesecake with miso flavor!
I like "rare" cheese cake of all cheese cakes! Of course, cream cheese is an indispensable ingredient. My "rare" cheese cake racipe calls for plain yogurt and some citrus fruit juice as well. Fresh cream is optional (I hate "rich" cheese cake). Got to make some "rare" cheese cake and post it on my blog!
One question: Did you really like the miso flavor? Have you tried a miro-less version? Red miso? What kind of red miso? Did you try white miso? (Sorry, not one question!)

Bbq Dude said...

Hiroyuki,

Looking up 'rare cheesecake' shows that this is indeed what I was looking for. Fascinating. Thanks for that.

Did I like the miso flavour in the cheesecake? Yes, though it was so rich it requires something acidic served with it. The flavour is *very* nice, but not something I'd want a huge bowl of (and indeed, at Providence, they serve a tiny bit of it with a whole bunch of fruit). Brand of miso I used was Hanamarukai, type was akamiso. I haven't had white miso in this application, but I may try it in the future.

Looking forward to seeing your recipe for rare cheesecake.

TWO FOODIES – ONE JOURNEY said...

The "Providence" miso cheesecake looks really great. Looks like all the work paid off. Are you know planning to also cook the other dishes from Providence as the next project ;)

Bbq Dude said...

Two Foodies:

Everyone needs a dream, right? Thanks again for the suggestion to contact them.

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