Thursday, April 27, 2006

Langka Cheesecake

Cheesecake with Jackfruit Coulis

This is one absolute favorite dessert of mine. I adore langka. I love how its aroma permeates everything it comes close to, and how the refrigerator smells when I open it.

I once bought some small loaves of ciabatta, then saw some fresh langka and bought a few grams. I put the wrapped langka in the plastic bag containing the ciabatta and unwittingly stored them together in the refrigerator. When I took out a piece of the bread the next day it smelled and tasted like a langka-flavored ciabatta, and I ate it as it is, without adding anything else, savoring the fruity flavor.

Of course I love cheesecakes of any kind, but then in the dining-out world, there are cheesecakes you love and there are cheesecakes you hate. And there are cheesecakes I hate because they are sold at such hefty prices when I can make my own at just about a fourth of the cost of buying a commercially sold one.

I hoard cheesecake toppings, especially when I'm in Baguio, where I get to splurge on Good Shepherd strawberry and blueberry toppings. They're not as pretty and as softly delicate as the ones that can be bought in Metro Manila (for example, the blueberries aren't pitted and the berries look emaciated), but they use locally grown fruits and I am all for that.

This cheesecake, though, uses one hundred percent home-made topping, and the same can also be said for the crust and crumb (of course made from commercially bought ingredients, hehe). I've been experimenting with local flavors, and langka (nangka, jackfruit, Artocarpus heterophyllus Lam.) paired fantastically well with cheesecake, especially if mixed into the crumb.

But as I've found out when using fresh fruits, the color, shelf-life, and sometimes palatability and physical presentation become unmanageable. This case was not an exception.

I pulsed fresh, newly ripened langka with the cream cheese and cream, with astounding results in color (a very appetizing light yellow), taste (fabulous!) and aroma (fantastic! mmmmm!), but the cake spoiled after two days, when my cheesecakes ordinarily last up to a month (in the ref, of course, and with me exerting such inhuman efforts to prevent myself from eating more than a tiny square after every meal).

But I do recommend, with all my heart, this langka cheesecake. It just needs a big party so it would be consumed all at once in one sitting. Make it the night before a big party (in the morning if the party will be at dinnertime), store overnight (or the whole day) in the refrigerator, and serve.

Just pureé about 100 grams of fresh, ripe langka and mix well into your preferred cream cheese mixture (preferably processing them together in a blender). Use less (halve it) if making a round, 8-12 inch diameter cake. The amount of langka I mentioned is good for my usual mix of a pack of cream cheese with 3-4 packs of all-purpose cream.

The langka cheesecake in the photo, though, has an ordinary (unflavored) cream cheese crumb, but has a thick langka sauce for topping. I made this with the goal of making it last for a while, so I just made an ordinary cheesecake with the topping in a separate container, ready to be poured when it is time to serve the cake.

I prefer desserts in individual servings, so my mini cheesecakes are usually in ramekins or wine/shot glasses ( a lot of them!).

I made the jackfruit coulis by boiling fresh, ripe langka with white sugar and a little water until thick, and putting it through a food processor. Bottled, preserved langka available in supermarkets can also be used, needing only to be pureéd.

Here, the jackfruit flavor, as well as the color, is more concentrated, and splendidly tops a cheesecake, rounding the various flavors quite nicely. The pungent sweetness of langka goes exceptionally well with the creaminess and salty hints of the cream cheese.

Add to that a coconut cookie crust (using crushed coconut butter cookies, because I get bored too easily by graham crackers), and you have a tropicalised, very Pinoy cheesecake.

Other cheesecake variants:
Black Forest Cheesecake
Mini Cream-O Cheesecake
Cream-O Cheesecakes


rlf said...

I think you merit a big bravo!

Kai said...

Merci, Relly!