Cuajada Cheesecake

Cheesecake number 2:  Spanish version, using cuajada.

Cuajada is a creamy dessert typical from the North of Spain, made of milk coagulated using “cuajo”.  Cuajo contains peptidases, that is, proteins that break other proteins :). These peptidases break a protein in the milk, the “casein”, and this causes the milk to go from liquid to a gel-like consistency.  This is because the casein swims in the milk forming “micelles”:  the casein molecules arrange themselves nice and cosy, hiding away from the water the parts of the protein that hate water, and that makes them soluble.  By chopping the casein molecules, the peptidases alter this micelle structure making it go solid (micelles cluster and “precipitate”).  This is also the procedure to make cheese out of milk:  acidification or proteases disrupt the casein micelle structure causing milk to “curdle”.

Cuajada can be bought as a powder that contains cuajo, starch, fructose, sugar, and some E additives.  This gives the cheesecake a very nice and characteristic milky taste.


Cuajada Cheesecake

Ingredients for a 23-cm diameter springform:

  • 210 g digestive biscuites
  • 150 g butter
  • 500 g whipping cream
  • 100 g sugar
  • 400 g cream cheese
  • 250 ml milk
  • 24 g cuajada powder
  • a pinch of NaCl
  • 150 g raspberry jam

Crumble the cookies by placing them in a plastic bag and crushing them with a rolling pin (or use a food processor).  Mix with the melted butter and use to cover the bottom of the springform, use the bottom of a glass to press down. Place in the fridge.

Dissolve the cuajada in the milk (start by adding a very little amount of milk, and slowly add more, or it won’t dissolve).

Heat up, stirring, the cream, sugar, cheese, and salt in a pot until it starts boiling.  Add the cuajada-milk mixture and return to the heat until it starts boiling again, then remove from heat.  Let cool down a bit, but keep stirring. 

Place the warm mixture on the springform (break the flow by placing a spoon in the middle to avoid disrupting the base).  Bring back to the fridge for 4 hours or best overnight.

Add the jam on top before releasing the cake from the springform. 



Peanut Butter Cookies with Fig Jam

St. Joan is around the corner and by then fig trees become a fruity beacon of hope that make my stomach rumble and my eyes weep with joy. If you have ever approached a fig tree, taken one of the fruits and eaten it there on the spot, you know what I’m talking about. This year I will have to reluctantly accept some seasonal fig jam instead… sad face.


Peanut Butter Cookies with Fig Jam

Makes around 20 cookies

  • 175 g flour
  • 0.5 tsp baking powder
  • 0.5 tsp bicarbonate
  • 0.5 tsp salt
  • 170 g crunchy peanut butter
  • 100 g room temperature butter
  • 65 g brown sugar
  • 65 g white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 100 g fig jam (or another kind if you can’t find it, my condolences)

Preheat the oven to 150 °C fan and line two baking sheets with baking paper.

Sift the flour, bicarbonate, baking powder and salt and mix thoroughly. Beat the butter and peanut butter until creamy, then add the sugars and keep beating until the mixture is whitish (as whitish as it can be considering the brown sugar…), light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla and finally fold in the flour (or beat at low speed).

Take ice cream scoop size portions of the dough and bake for 5 minutes. Take the biscuits out of the oven and make a hole in the middle with a dessert spoon (or with your thumb if it’s insensitive to heat, this is a thumbprint sort of cookie). Bake the cookies for 5 more minutes, until golden. Let them rest for another 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack and wait until cold. Finally fill the well with the fig jam and enjoy.




Cherry and Cream Cheese Cake

There is a place called Heerstaβe, and one of my regular websites suggests one should see it in bloom at least once in a lifetime. The japanese cherry blossom trees start blooming around mid April and stay gorgeous for about two to three weeks, and I happened to be in Bonn last week, just too late. One could still see some of the pink flowers on the trees, but mostly a copious pink carpet and flowery cars. Beauty is fleeting, it’s better just to focus on the taste.

Cherry and Cream Cheese Bundt Cake

Cherry and Cream Cheese Cake

For the cake
  • 250 g of butter
  • 300 g sugar
  • 2 tsp lemon zest 
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract 
  • 1.25 tsp baking soda
  • 1.25 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt 
  • 350 g flour
  • 300 ml sour cream
For the cherry and cream cheese filling
  • 200 g softened cream cheese
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 4 tbsp morello cherry conserve 

For the Almond Topping

  • 50 g granulated sugar
  • 1.5 tsp vanilla extract
  • 70 g sliced almonds
Preheat the oven to 160 °C fan and butter a ring cake pan (bundt pan) of 25 cm diameter.
Prepare the vanilla sugar almond topping by thoroughly combining the sugar and vanilla and then stirring in the sliced almonds.
For the cake batter: cream the butter, sugar and lemon zest until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, followed by the vanilla. Next add the combined and sifted baking soda, baking powder, salt and flour and finally the sour cream. Mix on low speed until all ingredients are well incorporated, but don’t overbeat.
To make the cream cheese filling: beat cream cheese, vanilla, lemon juice and sugar until creamy.
To assemble: place half of the batter in the tin, followed by some cherry jam and the cream cheese on top (careful to leave a couple of cm on each edge so that the fillings do not touch the tin sides) . Cover with the remaining cake batter, tap the pan to remove trapped air and sprinkle the vanilla sugar almonds to finish it up.
Bake for 55 to 60 minutes or until the cake is firm to the touch and a toothpick comes out clean. Let it cool in the tin for 1 hour before remoulding.  To do so, run a thin palette knife carefully around the edge and center to loosen it, and invert it gently on a cooling rack.