June 26th, 2010
I have disappeared from this space for quite sometime now. Creating something and sharing it here is such an intrinsic part of my life that I miss it when it doesn’t happen on a regular basis. But life comes in the way of best laid plans. I have been working on something which hopefully I will be able to share with you in my next post. And you do know that I’m a mother to a toddler. Ask anyone who has mothered a teething baby and she will tell you a thing or two about one of life’s most enervating yet fulfilling part, a woman plays in her time. Or on second thoughts, don’t ask unless you want to be smothered with vivid descriptions and details of talk that happens when two new mothers meet.
I’m so excited and thrilled to share this cheesecake recipe on divinetaste. I have spoken before about how overwhelmed we are when we cant savour the tastes of most of those great looking cheesecakes and desserts as they contain a pure vegetarian’s foe, gelatin! I have used Agar Agar, also known as China Grass or Kanten here instead of gelatin and the result has been stupendous! The texture, smooth, silky and marvelous yet having a definitive shape and structure, just like how a good cheesecake ought to be. You had to be there to see me in order to fathom how excited I was when I jumped and shouted with glee just as I gently unlocked my springform pan and this beautiful cheesecake, a cheesecake which had form was revealed. Project mango cheesecake is a success! Yay! Now I know how to make perfect cheesecakes without gelatin. Three cheers to that!
I loved the crust too. As much as I like a traditional shortcrust pastry for a pie, it is good to know a delicious crust made with readily available biscuits, cookies or crackers that easily comes together within a matter of minutes especially when there is a no-bake cheesecake such as this mango cheesecake involved. The salted buttery crust perfectly offsets the sweet and delicate filling.
I was delivered the last crate of Alphonso mangoes for this season. And I had to make this cheese cake which had been on my mind ever since the mango season began before they completely vanished! There were a few requests from readers for a cheesecake with easily and locally available ingredients as cream cheese is not something that is widely available in India. It is not one of those ingredients easily available in your neighbourhood grocery section or store. I know of only a handful of places that stock cream cheese in Mumbai and I make sure that I replenish my stock as and when I visit them.
Am I glad that I made this? You bet! This is going to be a constant fixture during every mango season in my home, a part of every celebration and maybe next year I’m going to welcome the mango season with this cheesecake just as I’m bidding adieu to this season with this incredibly wonderful vegetarian dessert.
Mango Cheesecake Recipe
This is a cheesecake which is just about sweet. If you like your desserts sweeter then increase the sugar by about 1/4 cup. You might also have to do this if your mangoes are less sweeter. Use a deep dish 8” round springform pan or any pan with a removable bottom or a 9” regular round pan for this recipe.
160 gm (1 1/2 cups) digestive biscuits or any other fairly plain sweet biscuits, crushed
100 gm (1/2 cup) butter (preferably salted butter), chopped
160 gm (1 cup) fine sugar or powdered sugar
800 gm (3 cups) thick full cream yogurt
400 gm (2 cups) panir cheese or cottage cheese*
375 ml (1 1/2 cups) water
10 gm (10 tbsp) Chinagrass or Agar Agar or Kanten* (use 15 gm if you want a cheesecake that won’t crumble at all)
2 mangoes (1 cup), peeled, chopped and pureed
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
For the Mango Glaze:
1 mango (1/2 cup), peeled, chopped and pureed
2 tbsp water
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp lime juice
Place the yogurt in a cheesecloth lined colander over a container and allow to drain overnight to get half the quantity ( 400 gm or 1 1/2 cups) thick yogurt.
Prepare the crust:
Place all the biscuits in a sealed plastic bag (Zip loc) and with a rolling pin beat (does it sound violent?) until the biscuits are powdered. This is more easy than it sounds. Once this is done put the biscuits in a large mixing bowl. Put in the butter and with the help of a pastry blender or with your hands rub the butter into the biscuits until the mixture is well mixed. Alternatively, process the biscuits in a food processor until fine, drop in the butter and process again until the mixture is properly blended.
Remove the mixture and press it evenly into the base of an 8” deep round springform pan or any pan with a removable bottom or a 9” regular round pan. Chill in the freezer for 15 minutes or in the refrigerator for half an hour.
Prepare the filling:
Break the china grass into small pieces and soak in 1 1/2 cups water for about 10 minutes until it becomes soft.
In a food processor fitted with the metal blade or blender place the strained yogurt and panir cheese or cottage cheese and process until smooth and creamy. Transfer this to a mixing bowl.
In a sauce pan, heat the mango puree over a medium flame. Do not allow this to boil.
In another saucepan place the chinagrass and water mixture and stir on low heat until it melts completely, about 5 to 6 minutes. Do not allow this to boil.
After the chinagrass melts completely, pour the hot china grass solution into the hot mango puree, stirring all the while.
Slowly add the mango mixture into the yogurt and cheese mixture, stir in the sugar and vanilla extract and beat well with a wire whisk until well blended.
Pour this mixture over the prepared crust, level with a spoon and chill in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 hours.
For the Mango Glaze:
Place all the ingredients for the glaze in a saucepan and cook over medium heat. When it begins to boil, reduce the flame and cook for 3 to 4 minutes more. Allow to come to room temperature and then spread the glaze over the cheesecake with a spoon. Allow the glaze to set over the cheesecake for 2 to 3 hours or more before slicing it. Allow the cheesecake to set for an hour or so before spreading the glaze over it.
* If using cottage cheese make sure the water is completely drained and the cheese is dry to get a perfectly set cheesecake. Try and use panir cheese blended into a puree for this recipe.
*A few notes about cooking with chinagrass or agar agar or kanten.
China grass or Agar Agar or Kanten is a sea weed and completely vegetarian. It gives a smooth, glossy finish and many chefs prefer to use it over gelatin. China grass, if used properly sets easily at room temperature.
1. China grass needs to be broken into pieces and softened by soaking in water for atleast 5 minutes.
2. Heat chinagrass on a low flame for it to melt completely.
3. The dissolved chinagrass liquid should be immediately mixed with another portion of hot mixture. Remember that both the mixing agents need to be hot for the china grass to set properly. If either of them is cold, then the dessert wont set properly.
4. If the china grass solidifies before you add it into another mixture, then reheat until it melts completely and use as required.
Recipe update: After some concerns about the texture of this cheesecake and the varied quality of chinagrass and after considerable thought I have come to the conclusion that it is better to use 15 gm of chinagrass for this recipe to get a a stiff textured cheesecake that won’t crumble.