Chocolate-Wasabi “Cheesecake”

I tend to miss the boat when it comes to holidays.  Most bloggers will plan their Easter or Passover posts way in advance, but I always seem to come up with recipes days (or even weeks) after.  Doesn’t do much good, does it?  No, not really.   Which is why this year, I’m jumpin’ the gun.

Now, I didn’t plan on having this recipe relate to Passover.  That just kind of happened.  What really brought on this vegan treat was the Marx Food Ridiculously Delicious Challenge that I’ve been involved with these past two months.  If you don’t remember, this contest consists of four rounds.  The first was fairly basic (we had to pick what items from their store we would want to win and, if successful, what we’d do with them), but since then they have gotten progressively more complicated.

The second and third rounds required us to use ingredients that they provided to prepare a recipe (one original and one that we had to “remake” from another contestant’s site).  The Marx Food box of mystery ingredients consisted of a variety of sugars and spices, which were a blast to work with.  The first recipe I made was a Chocolate-Cherry Scone with Saffron and the second recipe was for Chermoula Fish Tacos with Mango Salsa, both turned out to be quite a hit among family and friends.

Which now brings us to the last, and final, round of the competition.

Last week, those of us who were still standing were shipped a secret “perishable” ingredient that we were going to have to use in an original recipe.  We chatted anxiously about what it could be.  Meat seemed to be out, as there were too many of us who were veggie-friendly.  We then thought cheese!  Oh, how wonderful that would be!

What arrived was something that none of us expected: fresh wasabi root.  That’s right.  Fresh wasabi.

Now, I’ve always been a huge fan of wasabi, but I have never worked with the fresh varietal.  And let me tell you, it is a pleasure.  I’m really not sure how I could go back to the oozy paste that you buy at the store (the price may scare me away).

As soon as it arrived, my brain went into high gear coming up with concepts for what to make.  I sat at my desk and began jotting down notes… and soon, the idea was formed.  The inspiration comes from two places: a magnificent vegan “cheesecake” that I had at the Millennium Restaurant in San Francisco that completely changed the way I thought about tofu.  And the other was a Kosher for Passover cheesecake that is served at Craigie on Main in Cambridge. The first blew my mind… as I thought it was actually cheesecake that I was eating (and you know how I feel about cheesecake).  The one from Craigie was all about the crust, which consisted of pine nuts and matzo meal.  One bite of each of these, and I was slouched in my chair, with a big dumb grin on my face.

So, why not mix the two together?  And, do you know what, this really works.  In fact, it was such a success that I was able to serve it at my mother-in-law’s birthday party and everyone finished their plates (which means that they either liked it, or didn’t want to make me feel bad… but let’s just say that they enjoyed it).

*Amendment to the original post: Apparently I neglected to tell you all how it actually tastes.  And now why would you care about something as silly as that?  Ok, I’ll tell you.  This particular type of wasabi (daruma) had a subtle heat that progressed the longer you have it in your mouth.  But it was also slightly sweet, which created wonderful balance.  In fact, I was nibbling on chunks of it throughout the process.  Think I’m crazy?  Maybe I am.  If you’re a fan of fresh ginger, then you’ll love fresh wasabi.  And if you’ve ever had the wonderful pairing of ginger and chocolate, then you have an idea of what to expect.

Before leaving you with the recipe, I wanted to share one last thing.  In addition to submitting this recipe to the Marx Food challenge, it will also be included in a calendar that a bunch of food bloggers have banded together to create in support of Japan.  When the calendar is released, it will be available for purchase, the proceeds going to an organization that is still being determined.

This is the wonderful thing about the food blogger community.  It is incredibly supportive, thoughtful, and proactive.  And I am so proud to be a part of it.

Chocolate-Wasabi Cheesecake

Note: If you don’t eat tofu on Passover, this can always be adapted to include cream cheese.

Cake Ingredients

2 lbs firm tofu
8 oz semi-sweet chocolate, chopped into chunks
1.75 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
1.5 tbsp wasabi (fresh, if possible, or paste)

Crust Ingredients

2 pieces of matzo, broken into large chunks
1/2 cup pine nuts
1 tbsp sugar

Directions

Drain the tofu between a couple towels (or multiple paper towels, which you will need to replace after about 15 minutes) and place a weight on top for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Place all of the crust ingredients in a food processor and pulse until coarse.  Pour into a 9 inch springform pan and spread across the bottom.  Bake in the oven for 5 minutes, take out and let cool.

In the bowl of a food processor, blend the tofu and sugar until it has become fully incorporated.  Add the vanilla, almond, and wasabi and blend until incorporated.  In a double boiler, melt 3 oz of the chocolate and then add to the tofu mixture.  Blend until it is mixed in.

Pour the “cheesecake” batter over the crust and, using a spatula, smooth out across.  Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until it has set.  It will continue to set once it starts to cool, so it shouldn’t need much longer than this time.

Remove the pan from the oven and let cool on a wire rack.

Meanwhile, melt the remaining chocolate in the double boiler.  Once it is smooth and pourable, spread across the top of the cake.  Smooth out using a spatula.

Cover the top of the pan with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least 1 hour.  Before serving, grate some fresh wasabi (ginger would be nice too) over the cake.

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  • CakewalkerMarch 23, 2011 - 12:08 am

    I’ve never seen fresh wasabi so I’m glad you’ve shared it here. I also love your clever move to put it into a cake – talk about a little zing! This recipe will find its way on my countertop soon.ReplyCancel

  • LaurenMarch 23, 2011 - 12:12 am

    Wow, such a short ingredient list! My favorite kind of recipe. My mom makes the best cheesecake; it’d be interesting to compare this vegan version to hers, since you claim it’s so convincing. I’m curious now!ReplyCancel

  • Pei-LinMarch 23, 2011 - 12:13 am

    Salt and chocolate? Yes. But chocolate and wasabi?! I’d never thought of that! That crust with pine nuts and matzo meal sounds innovative. I just wish I can try some of it now, I’m real curious about the outcome!ReplyCancel

  • TammyMarch 23, 2011 - 12:23 am

    Sounds wonderful – I wonder if it is as addicting as when it is used in sushi.ReplyCancel

  • RJ FlamingoMarch 23, 2011 - 1:20 am

    I don’t understand. You have clothes on. ;-)ReplyCancel

  • Julia @ DimpleArts PhotographyMarch 23, 2011 - 1:32 am

    I am amazed at how you can come up with a cake after receiving fresh wasabi. Looks delicious!ReplyCancel

  • Wow, crazy!ReplyCancel

  • Kulsum at JourneyKitchenMarch 23, 2011 - 1:59 am

    Oh lovely! I love this. Can’t get fresh wasabi but paste it is. Love the first picture. Wait I love all yours pictures all the time!ReplyCancel

  • Chef DennisMarch 23, 2011 - 6:08 am

    Brian
    what a creative use of fresh Wasabi, I have to say I was floored when I saw the title!!
    hats of to you my friend, you really come up with such wonderful flavor combinations, and I think even you could make a tofu convert out of me!
    Cheers
    DennisReplyCancel

  • MeetaMarch 23, 2011 - 6:22 am

    Oooh Chocolate & Wasabi what awesome flavors and both in a cheesecake – you live a decadent life Brian.ReplyCancel

  • Sylvie @ Gourmande in the KitchenMarch 23, 2011 - 6:22 am

    What a totally crazy, yet totally inspired combination of flavors! You’ve really outdone yourself here.ReplyCancel

  • Paul JennetteMarch 23, 2011 - 7:09 am

    What a crazy recipe!! I have never, ever heard or seen a crust like this, seems amazing. And the Wasabi with cheesecake make me very curious. Can you tell me a little more about this calender going out, how can I help or get involved??ReplyCancel

  • Chris @ The PecheMarch 23, 2011 - 7:46 am

    Matzo, tofu, and wasabi???? Genius.ReplyCancel

  • MichelleMarch 23, 2011 - 7:50 am

    This is seriously super creative!ReplyCancel

  • Michael @MikeVFMKMarch 23, 2011 - 7:52 am

    Love it, Brian! It’s great when you have to think outside your comfort zone to create flavour combinations like this one. I bet it tastes fantastic!ReplyCancel

  • fooddreamerMarch 23, 2011 - 7:59 am

    I always miss the boat on holidays and blogging too (except for Xmas, because I start that wayyyyyy in advance!). This cake sounds so great, I really love wasabi and I bet that kick actually goes really well with chocolate. Nice work!ReplyCancel

  • SMITH BITESMarch 23, 2011 - 8:05 am

    very creative and yet, spot on Brian – those are terrific flavor components that i can see playing nicely together; and the matzoh crust is genius! cannot wait to see the calendar!ReplyCancel

  • Lauren at Keep It SweetMarch 23, 2011 - 8:06 am

    This is definitely an all-star Passover dessert! Coincidentally I made a Passover dessert yesterday, though not so creative.ReplyCancel

  • Amy | She Wears Many HatsMarch 23, 2011 - 8:08 am

    Not only have I never worked with fresh wasabi, but tofu has never graced my fridge. Looks like I’ll need to change that.ReplyCancel

  • NinaMarch 23, 2011 - 8:17 am

    This is brilliant, Brian. What an awesome combination of flavors!ReplyCancel

  • Sanjeeta kkMarch 23, 2011 - 8:21 am

    What a decadent and flavorful cheesecake ! Wasabi in the cake, sounds so exciting..must get this root soon and bake along.ReplyCancel

  • Debi (Table Talk)March 23, 2011 - 8:40 am

    Fresh wasabi? Lucky!
    Love this dessert–ReplyCancel

  • Emily @ A Cambridge StoryMarch 23, 2011 - 8:46 am

    Wow, I’ve never even seen fresh wasabi! This is a truly gorgeous dessert!ReplyCancel

  • DaisyMarch 23, 2011 - 9:16 am

    I love wasabi, but don’t think i have ever had it this fresh! the addition to chocolate cheesecake is really smart. I would love a slice of this for breakfast!ReplyCancel

  • JoyMarch 23, 2011 - 9:51 am

    The wasabi makes a cool twist. It looks great.ReplyCancel

  • ShannonMarch 23, 2011 - 10:06 am

    wow. this is totally awesome. and that crust is totally unique! fabulous job, and i might just have to try it with my last rhizome :)ReplyCancel

  • DanaMarch 23, 2011 - 10:16 am

    This is so innovative, and sound intriguingly delicious! Great job with this challenge!ReplyCancel

  • Barbara | VinoLuciStyleMarch 23, 2011 - 10:52 am

    I’m still having to work on wrapping my arms around those words together; chocolate, cheesecake and wasabi, well not the chocolate and cheesecake but the wasabi! What a creative notion…good luck to you with this challenge.ReplyCancel

  • Alison @ Ingredients, Inc.March 23, 2011 - 10:55 am

    Love this one! Fabulous!ReplyCancel

  • Mardi@eatlivetravelwriteMarch 23, 2011 - 10:56 am

    Brian, this looks wonderful. Have to admit that tofu and wasabi are not my friends. Perhaps you might change my mind with this. Perhaps ;-)ReplyCancel

  • Jen @ keepitsimplefoodsMarch 23, 2011 - 11:19 am

    I feel the same way about holiday food posts. I’m always scrambling to get something together at the last minute and it’s a miracle if I actually get anything posted at all!

    Love, love, love that you used tofu in this “cheesecake.” Brilliant! I also adore the sweet and spicy flavor combo. Makes perfect sense to me!ReplyCancel

  • EthanMarch 23, 2011 - 11:33 am

    Ok, so you typically don’t share your cheesecake…I hope E had a chance to at least try this one! Looks and sounds great, awesome creation!ReplyCancel

  • GeorgieMarch 23, 2011 - 11:36 am

    Absolutely beautiful!ReplyCancel

  • GeorgieMarch 23, 2011 - 11:39 am

    Absolutely beautiful! Best wishes for this challange, though I’m thinking you “nailed” it!ReplyCancel

  • Jason @ Shutter&SauteMarch 23, 2011 - 11:47 am

    This is certainly one of the most inventive desserts I have seen! Looks great.ReplyCancel

  • Alysa (InspiredRD)March 23, 2011 - 11:59 am

    Chocolate and wasabi together?? I just HAVE to know what that tastes like. Thanks for the inspiration!ReplyCancel

  • Lawyer Loves LunchMarch 23, 2011 - 1:37 pm

    You, my friend, are awesome! I still have that darn wasabi root in my fridge. I have absolutely no idea how your mind works to come up with these amazing creations. I imaging it’s a bit like a fun factory up in there but I love it!ReplyCancel

  • KimberleyMarch 23, 2011 - 1:51 pm

    Fantastic idea! I love spicy things in desserts, especially with chocolate, and I love wasabi!ReplyCancel

  • Joan NovaMarch 23, 2011 - 3:44 pm

    Very creative…but how did it taste?ReplyCancel

  • CeliaMarch 23, 2011 - 3:48 pm

    Such an interesting and fun flavor combo! I might try to sub cheese back in for tofu (darn Ashkenazi and kitniyot) and make it KFP again…ReplyCancel

  • kankanaMarch 23, 2011 - 5:44 pm

    WOW .. wasabi!! Can’t wait to try this.. seriously …ReplyCancel

  • VijithaMarch 23, 2011 - 6:09 pm

    Wow! a very interesting recipe.

    First time here. You have an amazing space. Loving it!ReplyCancel

  • Cookin' CanuckMarch 23, 2011 - 6:25 pm

    What a brilliant idea! Chocolate cake is not what would have popped to mind when presented with wasabi root and I love to see what happens when others think outside of the box.ReplyCancel

  • Fran {The Flavorful Fork}March 23, 2011 - 6:26 pm

    Thanks for the interesting idea for Passover. The combination of sweet and “hot” sounds like a winner. I need to get crackin’ myself and put together some Passover menu items.ReplyCancel

  • bunkycooksMarch 23, 2011 - 7:01 pm

    What an interesting use of fresh wasabi…great idea! Your cake certainly looks very creamy. I am so curious how the flavors worked together. You should have saved me a piece! ;)ReplyCancel

  • Lora @cakeduchessMarch 23, 2011 - 9:41 pm

    Hi Bri-This “cheescake” is so creative! The fresh wasabi must be incredible w/all the other ingredients. Gorgeous cake and love your ideas:)ReplyCancel

  • Dana SalvoMarch 23, 2011 - 10:26 pm

    Very interesting. I would have never thought to put the two together. I’ve never worked w/fresh wasabi either. Way to think outside the box :) Happy Cooking!ReplyCancel

  • Elle (Bromography)March 23, 2011 - 10:29 pm

    Love the spicy chocolate combination!ReplyCancel

  • KristenMarch 23, 2011 - 11:56 pm

    What an original recipe – love the blend of flavors, and, of course, the gorgeous photography! Especially love that first one.
    Can’t wait to see the calendar!ReplyCancel

  • SuesMarch 24, 2011 - 12:23 am

    I always miss the boat on holiday recipes, too!

    THIS looks incredible!! OMG! Now I just need to find some wasabi-loving friends who would be game for trying it… So I don’t eat it all myself :)ReplyCancel

  • Tiny Urban KitchenMarch 24, 2011 - 1:49 am

    Brian, that looks absolutely amazing! I’ve never had fresh wasabi and definitely would not have thought of putting it in a sweet dish!ReplyCancel

  • Lindsey @ Gingerbread BagelsMarch 24, 2011 - 4:18 am

    Wow this is so incredibly creative, you’re a genius. :) The cheesecake looks amazing! I’m so impressed with every recipe you’ve come up with for the challenges.ReplyCancel

  • JoanneMarch 24, 2011 - 6:36 am

    I absolutely loved the complex flavor of the REAL wasabi and I think you described it perfectly here! This cheesecake is so inventive on so many levels, Brian! Tofu? Kosher for passover? WASABI?!?!? I love the way your mind works.ReplyCancel

  • Stephanie @GlobalDishMarch 24, 2011 - 10:53 am

    Stunning photographs! Cheesecake, above all other desserts, is my favourite thing to cook, so this post is near and dear to my heart. Thank you for the recipe, I can’t wait to try it out!ReplyCancel

  • LirenMarch 24, 2011 - 12:19 pm

    Brian, this is genius. On so many levels. To combine chocolate with wasabi, to use tofu and be Kosher-friendly – fantastic recipe development! I’m crossing my fingers with the Marx challenge – good luck!ReplyCancel

  • carmenMarch 24, 2011 - 12:21 pm

    Looks so yummy I had to repost it!
    :)ReplyCancel

  • serena @bigapplenoshMarch 24, 2011 - 4:01 pm

    Sounds delicious! I admit I was wary the first time I tried tofu cheesecake, but the texture really is just perfect!ReplyCancel

  • IrvinMarch 24, 2011 - 4:26 pm

    Love! I adore fresh wasabi root but it’s so cost prohibitive. *sigh* The neon green paste is no comparison.

    Your idea of combining it with cheesecake is fantastic! I love it. Last year I made a kosher for passover cake, but this year, if I end up going to a passover dinner again this year, I’m making something like this instead. Except I’ll swap out the tofu with cashew cream and coconut milk as she’s won’t do soy for passover either. Yay!ReplyCancel

  • The Chocolate PriestessMarch 24, 2011 - 5:07 pm

    What does wasabi taste like?ReplyCancel

  • Jenn from Much to My DelightMarch 25, 2011 - 9:05 am

    Wow! That’s one of the most unique things I’ve seen on a food blog in some time. I’m not a big wasabi fan, but then again, I’ve never tasted it baked into anything and I can see how the subtle kick might really pronounce the chocolate flavor. Love that this will be included in a project to benefit Japan. You have a lovely blog here, good sir!ReplyCancel

  • briarroseMarch 25, 2011 - 10:30 am

    Very creative cheesecake….amazing job on this. I really must try this…I want to taste this flavor combination.ReplyCancel

  • TessaMarch 25, 2011 - 1:44 pm

    I always miss the boat on holidays when it comes to posting food and recipes too! I guess I don’t think that far ahead. This cheesecake is fascinating! Wish I could reach into the photo and taste a piece.ReplyCancel

  • Speckle of DirtMarch 25, 2011 - 2:11 pm

    I absolutely loved reading this post about your challenge and mystery ingredient! It’s my first time here, visiting from Tastes Better with Friends. I’m going to email this recipe to myself and try it out!ReplyCancel

  • Evan @swEEtsMarch 25, 2011 - 2:29 pm

    I love that you used wasabi in a dessert..it’s reminiscent of Chopped :) I’ve never seen fresh wasabi before, I can only imagine how great this cake is!ReplyCancel

  • Leslie UhlMarch 25, 2011 - 4:33 pm

    Wasabi cheesecake! I love cheesecake anytime, must try it with the new twist!ReplyCancel

  • BethMarch 26, 2011 - 6:22 am

    What an intriguing mix! This is completely unlike anything I’ve made, and yet I’m intrigued to make it. Looks great!ReplyCancel

  • Jill ColonnaMarch 26, 2011 - 8:20 am

    This looks just amazing! I’ve tried white chocolate and wasabi which is great and this looks another different twist: and with CHEESECAKE!! Wow.ReplyCancel

  • JeanMarch 26, 2011 - 2:05 pm

    Brian, what an inspired way to use fresh wasabi. And the tofu–wow, I’ll have to try this one out. Love this recipe–everything about it! Good luck on the contest! :-)ReplyCancel

  • Wendy IreneMarch 26, 2011 - 10:27 pm

    It was such a lovely post of yours I saw today on Monet’s site. You are very thoughtful! I am so glad to have been brought here to see your creativity with food and stunning photography.
    Have a fantastic weekend!ReplyCancel

  • RitaMarch 27, 2011 - 9:13 am

    I am new to your blog after reading you on Monet’s site. What a great blog that you have; this recipe is really up there; wow! I am trying to figure out where or how I can be a follower.
    RitaReplyCancel

  • sMarch 28, 2011 - 5:38 am

    what a fab blog…and this combo looks and sounds just fantastic.ReplyCancel

  • ShannonMarch 28, 2011 - 9:37 am

    I LOVE this recipe. So amazingly unique. I have yet to use Tofu in a dessert and I think you may have just inspired me. And matzo in the crust? Genius.ReplyCancel

  • AmyMarch 29, 2011 - 11:11 pm

    This looks amazing! I love everything about it from the fact that it is made from tofu, and looks so decadent, to the addition of the wasabi, which I bet was delicious with the chocolate as many spicy things are! Awesome recipe :)!ReplyCancel

  • Andrew FrishmanApril 2, 2011 - 8:48 pm

    MMnnn! . . . I loves me some cheesecake, especially when it’s chocolatey. . . but wasabi-y?. . . now that’s out there.

    La idea de mezclar dos ingredientes no es siempre exitoso.ReplyCancel

  • ElianaApril 6, 2011 - 11:08 am

    Stunning as always Brian. But I don’t expect anything less of you.ReplyCancel

  • henyMay 23, 2011 - 3:49 am

    Wow,I’m impressed by your idea of combining wasabi and chocolate. Very japanese. ^^
    Btw,I want to ask something. I don’t have any fresh wasabi but can I replace it with wasabi powder? Do I have to mix the wasabi powder with water or I can use the powder directly? Thank you so much 4 your recipe and your help..^^ReplyCancel

  • The CilantropistAugust 4, 2011 - 11:22 am

    This sounds like a fascinating flavor combination, and it think I need to try fresh wasabi now!ReplyCancel

  • Deb @ knitstamaticAugust 4, 2011 - 11:35 am

    I don’t eat tofu on Passover but that’s okay because frankly I don’t think I could wait that long to make this cake. As always, very creative and beautiful! I’m hoping that Whole Foods will carry fresh wasabi. If not, any suggestions where I can get it?ReplyCancel

  • […] I’ve used it in two desserts.  One was a chocolate pudding and the other was as a base for a chocolate-wasabi cheesecake.  The tofu provided the creaminess that both desserts needed.  That was its purpose and, for that […]ReplyCancel

  • Hardie JeraldMarch 25, 2013 - 2:07 am

    I am not a traditional vegan but this sounds too yummy I like to try it.ReplyCancel

  • Leendert BomAugust 16, 2013 - 10:23 am

    Great Recipe! Will it taste better with a real Wasabi grater?ReplyCancel

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