Matcha-Azuki Basque Cheesecakes

I have made quite a few basque cheesecakes on this site. However, what sets this one apart from the other matcha cheesecakes I have made is really the flavors and textures of this one. I haven’t made a matcha-flavored basque yet, and since I had a buttload of azuki(red bean) paste leftover from a hilariously successful pressure cooker experiment, I figured, why not throw those in there as well? I really wanted it to be so that when you cut into this basque cheesecake, you would see flecks of red beans throughout this custardy, creamy green interior, the visual of which just transports you to a Japanese bakery! I feel like red bean and matcha is such a classic and beloved Japanese flavor combination, so I really wanted to do it justice in this recipe, and have both flavors decently represented. As the red bean paste is made from scratch, I figured that alone would be worth showcasing, so I used it as a sort of base or “crust” at the bottom of the cheesecake, while also baking it throughout the batter and on top as a nice little garnish and to add a nice color contrast to the vibrant green dusting of ceremonial matcha on top(you can use normal matcha too, but ceremonial just has a much more vivid hue of green that I am all for!).

With the basque cheesecake, I do something relatively unique in that I use chocolate as a base for my batter. In this specific recipe, I went with white chocolate, as it is a matcha cheesecake, and any other kind of chocolate would mask that over, whereas white chocolate and matcha pair together really nicely. What I love about using the chocolate in my basque cheesecakes is that it really gives the final product this fudgy, almost molten center, while acting as a hilariously strong binder in place of flour or cornstarch, which effectively keeps my cheesecake gluten-free as well! The only real technical part of using chocolate in this is making sure that it is fully melted before incorporating it into the cheesecake. I find that the best way to do that is to mix it with the cream cheese over a double boiler first until both are fully melted into one another, then creaming in the other ingredients to form your final batter. The recipe itself is relatively straightforward, with it being for mini basque cheesecakes so that you can have these baked in less than 15 minutes, and probably ready to eat in another 30!

Makes 3 4-inch basque cheesecakes:
For the red bean paste:
1/4 cup dried red beans
1 1/4 cups water
1/4 cup sugar
a pinch of salt

In a pressure cooker, cook the red beans with the water first for 25 minutes. Slowly release the pressure and cook the sugar and salt into the red beans. Pour into a bowl and refrigerate until completely cold. Divide the red bean paste into 9 portions.

For the basque cheesecake:
1/3 cup white chocolate chips
8oz cream cheese
2 tsp matcha powder
1/4 cup granulated sugar
a pinch of salt
2/3 cups heavy cream
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
red bean paste

In a bowl, melt down the white chocolate with the cream cheese and matcha first. Transfer to a stand mixer and cream together the white chocolate-cream cheese with the sugar and salt. Then whip into that the heavy cream, eggs, and vanilla until you have a smooth, creamy batter. Line 4 4-inch springform cake rounds with parchment. Place 3 portions of the red bean paste into the bottoms of the pans. Pour the batter into the rounds, dividing the batter evenly – they should be extremely full. Sprinkle throughout the cheesecakes the remainder of the red bean paste. Bake at 475 degrees F for 10 minutes, then another 3 minutes under the broiler setting – you want the tops to be burnt or heavily singed! Transfer the still-molded cheesecakes into the freezer and allow them to cool for at least 1 hour before attempting to unmold them. If your cheesecakes are frozen solid, give them an hour at room temperature to thaw before serving!

For garnish:
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tsp powdered sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
a pinch of salt
remaining red bean paste
matcha powder

Whip heavy cream with sugar, vanilla, and salt to stiff peaks. Transfer to a piping bag and pipe on top of the cooled down cakes. Garnish with the remaining red bean paste and a dusting of matcha powder to finish!

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