Offer me a regular cheesecake and I’ll probably pass – maybe I’d give it a few nibbles for the sake of its crust – but add some matcha to the mix and I’ll be asking for seconds.
Do I dislike normal cheesecake? No, I wouldn’t say that. But, the fact that it’s so rich yet so unexciting makes me rather not want to waste those extra calories. In my opinion, a good cheesecake needs a little something extra for it to realise its full potential.
As a food science student, I could tell you how matcha is a “superfood” and has powerful anti-oxidants (blah blah blah), but that is not why we like matcha my friends. We like matcha because of its colour. Its natural soft, mossy colour – like taking a morning stroll in the misty forests of the Japan (jk, I have no idea if that’s true). But seriously, good matcha speaks for itself.
Just the right amount mixed into a regular cheesecake will add a nice hint of bitterness and earthy umami flavour that will make it oh so satisfying. If you are confused, think green tea ice cream with the rich smoothness of a cheesecake. It’s the perfect fusion of Asian and Western flavours, which is just the kind of dessert I like.
This is why, matcha is an ingredient you don’t want to skimp on. I wasn’t exaggerating when I said good matcha speaks for itself. Bad matcha doesn’t really do anything, in terms of both colour and flavour. I’m not saying you should spend $30 for a tiny bag at some holistic health store. But, a decent-sized tin of quality matcha will set you back about $10-15. Warning: do not get fooled by the cheap prices and confusing Asian packaging of instant green tea drink mix which has added sugar, etc. Your best bet is to find an Asian supermarket and lookout for brands where the sole ingredient is matcha or green tea leaves.
With this recipe, we’ve opted out of the classic graham cracker crust for a digestive biscuit crust. This is typical in Asian-Western desserts because, for some weird reason, graham crackers aren’t even sold in Asia! At least, I know for a fact it can’t be found in both Hong Kong and Singapore. But given the choice back here in Canada, I still prefer digestive biscuits. It has a subtler flavour compared to graham crackers, and when mixed with melted butter it is “the best thing I have ever smelt in my life” (direct quote from a friend who enlisted my help to tackle this recipe and bake for the first time in his life – all for a very romantic reason too!). He was shocked at how quick and easy it was to create something that looks and tastes so good. Thus, hesitate no longer my friends, the kitchen awaits you!
Baked Matcha Cheesecake
Adapted from Andre’s the Home Baker
For the crust:
12 digestive biscuits
3 tbsp butter, melted
For the cheesecake:
2 8oz blocks cream cheese, softened
¾ cup sugar
2 tbsp flour
3-4 tbsp matcha (depends on how strong you want it)
1/3 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg, room temperature
Extra matcha powder to dust on top
A handful of raspberries (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line the bottom and sides of an 8 inch cake pan (preferably springform or with a removable bottom) with parchment paper.
Prepare the crust by placing the digestive biscuits in a large freezer Ziploc bag. Gently crush them into a fine powder by rolling over the bag with a rolling pin. Be careful not to puncture holes into the bag due to the biscuit shards. Transfer the crushed biscuits into a small bowl and toss it with the melted butter. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and press it down firmly and evenly using the back of a spoon.
In the bowl of a mixer, whisk the cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy. Sift in the flour and matcha and whisk until combined. Add in the sour cream, egg and vanilla and whisk until smooth. Pour into the pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake for 30-35 minutes until just set but the middle is still slightly wobbly. Let it cool on a wire rack for at least 45 minutes before transferring to the fridge to chill for 4 hours or overnight. To serve, dust matcha powder on top and garnish with some raspberries.