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Today I’m hoping to convince you that malted vanilla cheesecakes, cooked in a steam oven, need to be on your list of things to make this week. I know they’re not strictly necessary, but I also know they’re the best thing I’ve turned out in a while, and they will be at your place too.
The thing which keeps me interested in developing recipes specific to steam ovens is that once I nail something it’s almost always much better than the equivalent dish would be on the stovetop or in a regular oven. I’m a firm believer, though, that there’s no point trying to cook something in the steam oven just for the sake of saying I can – it has to be either a much easier or much improved version of a more conventional version (preferably both).
Take these little steam oven cheesecakes. In theory I love cheesecake, but so often I find it to be too grainy and oddly textured (the baked versions) or gelatinous and possibly overwhipped (the no-bake types).
I also get annoyed by the water bath arrangement some baked cheesecake recipes call for. What I wanted was something smooth, set but not jelly-like, with the density of a baked cheesecake but the creaminess of an unbaked one. I knew the steam oven was the perfect vehicle to achieve this but somehow it took much playing with ingredient ratios and oven settings to get there.
First off, I thought surely that baking cheesecake at a low-ish temperature on combi steam setting would be right, but it kept producing soufflé-like rising and far too much of that granular texture I wanted to get away from. So I applied the logic that if a perfect crème brulee or steamed custard can be achieved with just steam – and oh, it can – then the creamy texture I wanted in a cheesecake might follow a similar pattern.
With that in mind (and after three tries on various combination settings), I switched to a low temperature steam-only attempt. And happily, I’ve arrived at something quick to put together, relatively quick to cook and impressive to serve, with the lovely bonus of being suited to those of you who are looking for steam-only rather than combi steam recipes.
The flavour combination for these mini cheesecakes was inspired by something I came across in the most recent edition of delicious. magazine. I have adapted heavily from the original recipe, which was for a large-scale baked affair with a meringue top, but the use of malted milk powder was what intrigued me and that’s stayed. I love adding malted milk powder to buttercream for frosting a chocolate or vanilla cake, but had never thought to use it for much else. Well, silly me because it looks like there are all sorts of things you can add it to, and it provides a toasty richness which is perfect with cream cheese.
I’ve dialled back the sugar somewhat, and made a cheat’s crust with whole commercially-made ginger cookies, as they fit perfectly into the base of a muffin tin (also, they remind me in the best possible way of childhood visits to my grandparents’ house – they were my grandfather’s absolute favourite biscuit and there was always a little plate of them at afternoon tea time).
All in all, this is about the quickest way I can think of to make a cheesecake, which might be dangerous because once my husband gets through the mountain of test versions sitting in the fridge he might be onto me for more.
Happy steam oven cooking, see you here again soon.
Steamed Vanilla Cheesecakes with Malt
- Mini cheesecake pan or muffin pan
- 8 ginger nut cookies plus 2-3 extra for serving; if ginger nuts aren't available where you are, any type of crunchy ginger cookie or a digestive will work, as long as they fit nicely into the pan you're using
- 16 oz cream cheese full fat, at room temperature
- 4 tbs superfine sugar caster sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla paste
- 2/3 cup malted milk powder
- 8 tbs whipped cream to serve
- If you’re using a muffin pan, line 8 holes with paper cases. If you’re using a mini cheesecake pan, cut 8 strips of baking paper wide enough to cover the bases and long enough to hang over 2 sides of the holes (this will help you lift the cakes out when they’re cooked).
- Set your oven to 195⁰F/90⁰C, steam setting (100% humidity).
- Place one cookie into each lined hole. If your cookies are very hard/crunchy like mine were, you may want to fill a small bowl with tap-hot water and very briefly dip each cookie in the water before putting into the holes, otherwise your finished cheesecakes will be impossible to cut through with a fork.
- Put the cream cheese and sugar into the bowl of a food processor and blend until smooth, then add the rest of the ingredients and mix again until combined and smooth. If you don’t have a food processor you can use a stand mixer with the paddle attachment – it works fine as long as your cream cheese isn’t cold! Divide the mixture between the 8 prepared holes and smooth the tops.
- Cover the tin with foil to prevent excess moisture pooling on the tops of the cakes and steam for 18 minutes, until set but with a slight wobble in the centre. Remove from oven, let cool slightly then refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or up to 4 days. If you’re not serving them the same day I recommend you store them in an airtight container so they don’t dry out or pick up ‘fridge smell’.
- To serve, crush a couple of extra cookies and top each cheesecake with a dollop of whipped cream and a scattering of cookie crumbs.
- Heavily adapted from a recipe found in delicious. magazine, November 2016.
- This makes 8 muffin-sized cheesecakes – I used a regular sized 12 hole muffin tin and just filled 8 holed, but if you have a straight-sided, loose bottom pan I’d use that.
- As mentioned, I use ginger nut biscuits/cookies to create the bases of my cheesecakes. Ginger snaps or another crunchy, gingery cookie would work too. Should you want to go all out and make your own, there's a reliable recipe for them here.
But I don’t have a steam/combi-steam oven! The original recipe I based these on was for a large baked cheesecake, so although the texture will be different you could certainly bake them in a conventional oven. I haven’t tried it with this particular recipe, but I’d set the temperature to 140⁰C and check them after 20 minutes for doneness.