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Steam oven recipes are funny things. There are some ‘normal’ recipes I create or come across which are a dead-easy conversion to the steam oven, but others are far less straightforward. And it always seems to be the dishes which should be a simple fix that thwart me (remember the Simple Steam Oven Chocolate Cake, which was anything but simple in development?).
I think, though, the thing which keeps me interested in developing recipes specific to steam ovens, apart from my very nice readers* and their positive feedback, 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 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 much easier than or much improved on 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 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 gingernut biscuits 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 maternal grandparents’ house – they are 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.
*Very Nice Readers alert! There are an ever-growing number of you and I cannot tell you how happy that makes me, but it does mean my inbox is beginning to overflow with questions and feedback emails. So if you have contacted me in the past few weeks and not received a response, I WILL get back to you. It might take a little while because, well, life, but I so value the time it takes you to write to me and I am not ignoring you, I promise.
Another little bit of housekeeping: if you'd like to be kept up to date on the progress of my steam oven cookbook, I have created a separate page for it here and will update with any relevant details as I get closer to finishing it. Or, if you just want notifications (and posts) straight to your inbox, you can sign up to the Steam and Bake mailing list here and be first to hear any news (I don't share your info and I don't spam you with endless emails).
Steam Oven Malted Vanilla Cheesecakes
Adapted from delicious. November 2016.
Makes 8 muffin-sized cakes – I used a regular sized 12 hole muffin tin but if you have a straight-sided, loose bottom 12 hole tin I’d use that.
As mentioned above, I used ginger nut biscuits/cookies to create the bases of my cheesecakes. Mine were Arnotts brand, widely available in Australian supermarkets, although *gasp* I have discovered in the writing of this post that the recipe differs from state to state!! I have no idea what the differences are but I have used the WA version. In any case, any decent ginger nut or ginger snap cookie will work providing the diameter fits snugly into the holes of your muffin or cheesecake tin. There's a reliable recipe for them here if you'd like to make your own.
8 ginger nut or ginger snap cookies, plus 2-3 extra for serving (note: I used a different brand to the linked ones, but I think either of these will work just fine as long as they fit into your tins ok)
500g full fat cream cheese, at room temperature
4 tbs caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla paste or extract
90g (2/3 cup) malted milk powder
Whipped cream to serve
If you’re using a muffin tin, line 8 holes with paper cases. If you’re using a mini cheesecake tin, 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 90⁰C (full steam/steam only setting).
Place one cookie into each lined hole. If your cookies are very hard/crunchy like mine were, 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 mix 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 cling film 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 up the extra cookies and top each cheesecake with a dollop of whipped cream and a scattering of cookie crumbs.
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.