These are not words we generally ascribe to cheesecake. Having grown up in New York CIty I always loved the dense cream cheese version served at Lindy's and countless other NYC institutions. It was one of my favorite childhood desserts. Ubiquitious at fancy steakhouses, we would occasionally buy the Baby Watson version at the market to eat at home, at least until I perfected my own, thanks to the Frugal Gourmet. In college in Colorado I received a surprise package of Lindy's cheesecake from my Aunt Marie that felt like a delicious hug in the midst of homesickness and the excitement of a brave new world. Working as a pastry chef on Martha's Vineyard years later I invented a sweet mascarpone version that managed to be rich and light at the same time, its soft, silky texture melting into memories on the tongue.
More recently we've been introduced to Japanese cheesecake. It's a more subtle experience. The texture is light and fluffy, almost bouncy in your mouth. Each bite is like eating clouds, with a delicate texture that condenses down into the creamy essence of the cheese. We decided that it needed to be on the recipe list for our next book. Alex has risen to this particular task and the result, pictured above, is more of a Japanese-American cheesecake and all the more delicious for the twist. It's funny how one simple cake can have so many distinct variations. It's one of the conundrums of cooking, how an ingredient list can be stretched into so many different permutations. It's why cooking is an endles journey that is always, for us, an epic adventure.