Vegemite Cheesecake

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He’s doing his bit for his Dad…

Young Peter loves Vegemite… and his mother loves giving it to him… but he’s not getting so much these days, as his mother says: “It’s nearly all gone to Daddy, Peter.” And she’s right! The Vegemite is needed for our fighting men.

So if you notice less Vegemite in your local shop, just remember that until we have won this war a lot of it will be going to the troops! Vegemite – the concentrated extract of yeast – the richest food source of the combined vitamin B1, B2 and P.P. (anti-pellagric factor). The food that helps keep the troops fighting.

That’s what written on a Vegemite press ad back in 1940s. Vegemite has definitely play an important role in Australian’s lifestyle. Although it may not be the main food resource that helps keep the troops in their fighting spirit these days, it is definitely still 100% Australian’s favourite.

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It is Anzac Day over the weekend here in Australia to commemorate all those who died and served in military operations for the country. Apart from the Anzac Biscuits I baked, I can’t think of anything else that is more Australian than Vegemite. So I decided to use it to incorporate into this month Daring Bakers Challenge. The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey’s Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge. Hence, the Vegemite Cheesecake was born.

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“Are you out of your mind?” I can hear some of you screaming in disbelief. Vegemite is well known as a black gooey substance that is only good for one thing – prank your mates from the States. :D Not many people can stand this stuff, even some Australian themselves. But who would have thought it can taste so good by adding some into a cheesecake?! Believe it or not.

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Instead of making a big cheesecake, I used 7″ ramekins and make five individual portion cheesecakes. When I say individual, it is actually still quite big for one, so is best to split in half and share… or not. The Vegemite is made from leftover brewers’ yeast extract which is very salty, so salty that even the food police wants it to be taken off our supermarket shelves. (Pardon my language, but it is totally bollocks!)

To make the Vegemite cheesecake, you will only need a very small dose of it. It will infuse the whole cake easily and the salty malty flavour harmonises perfectly with the sweetness of the cake. The flavour is very subtle, on first bite you will taste the sweetness of the cheesecake then slowly mellows down to a malty saltiness linger in the mouth. Also don’t forget, Vegemite is yeast extract; by adding it into the cake will make it even fluffier!

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From the outlook, the cheesecake looks just like a normal cheesecake, except a darker beige colour. I made two versions of the cheesecake – one I keep it simple and  just topped with strawberries, and another version (top pic), I coated the cheesecake with Vegemite chocolate ganache which really gives it an even more rich and intense flavour.

I hope my version of the cheesecake will bring Vegemite, a well-loved Australian cultural icon, into everyone’s culinary vocabulary. Just like the famous Vegemite jingle sings, “It puts a rose in every cheek”.

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Ingredients (make 5 cheesecakes in 7″ ramekins)

crust
2 cups / 180 gram graham cracker crumbs (I used scotchfingers, Oreo’s is also a favorite)
4 oz / 100 gram butter, melted
2 tbsp. / 24 gram sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

cheesecake
650 gram of cream cheese at room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. vanilla extract (or the innards of a vanilla bean)
2 tsp Vegemite (it will be a subtle taste, if you want stronger taste, add more)

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Methods

1. Preheat oven to 180ºC (350 degrees F).

2. Mix together the crust ingredients and press into ramekins. You can press the crust just into the bottom, or up the sides of the pan too – baker’s choice. Set crust aside.

3. Combine cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of a stand-mixer (or in a large bowl if using a hand-mixer) and cream together until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Make sure to scrape down the bowl in between each egg. Add heavy cream, vanilla, lemon juice, and blend until smooth and creamy.

4. Heat up 2 tablespoon of heavy milk in microwave then add the Vegemite and stir. Add it into the mixture and stir well.

5. Pour batter into prepared crust and tap the ramekins on the counter a few times to bring all air bubbles to the surface. Place ramekins into a large baking tray and pour boiling water into the tray until halfway up the side of the ramekins.

5. Bake 35 to 40 minutes, until it is almost done – this can be hard to judge, but you’re looking for the cake to hold together, but still have a lot of jiggle to it in the center. You don’t want it to be completely firm at this stage. Close the oven door, turn the heat off, and let rest in the cooling oven for one hour. This lets the cake finish cooking and cool down gently enough so that it won’t crack on the top. After one hour, remove cheesecake from oven and lift carefully out of water bath. Let it finish cooling on the counter, and then cover and put in the fridge to chill. Once fully chilled, it is ready to serve.

To make the Vegemite chocolate ganache, melt 250 gram of chocolate, 150ml heavy cream and 2 teaspoon of Vegemite in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water. Drizzle the melted chocolate all over cheesecake and spread evenly. Enjoy!


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