Earlier in the spring The Alley, a Taiwanese tea chain, (I get too many ideas from bubble tea places) had a houjicha and peach series; my roommate and I longingly stared at the sign in the window as we walked by on our way to the store to stock up on rice and instant ramen. I ended up never trying any of the drinks as the pandemic came into full force soon after, but I’ve been keeping the flavour combination in mind.
I eventually returned to it in the form of this mousse cake: houjicha sable base, baked houjicha cheesecake, peach jelly, peach yoghurt mousse and a houjicha mirror glaze.
It is a good combination – it has the vibes of white peach green tea (another tea shop inspiration…) but the toastier sensibilities of peach with brown sugar or peach with browned butter.
Okay – but an admission: you may notice I stubbornly photographed the slices from a 45 degree overhead angle? I was hoping to hide the sunken centre of the cake (which can be seen in the photo right above)… I somehow managed to create an air bubble between the peach jelly insert and peach yoghurt mousse while assembling the cake. It’s easy to avoid though – just put a good enough and flat layer of the mousse down and only draw a bit up the sides with an offset spatula to prevent any gaps along the edges. So long as you don’t overzealously create a conical pit in the mousse in the process like me, you will be fine.
peach houjicha mousse cake
This cake is best eaten within a day or two of assembly as over time the sable base will soften.
Makes one 15.5cm diameter mousse cake.
- peach jelly insert
- baked houjicha cheesecake insert
- peach yoghurt mousse
- houjicha mirror glaze
- houjicha shortbread base
Have both 12cm diametre inserts prepared – the cheesecake should be chilled and the peach jelly insert frozen. Have the houjicha sable baked and set aside.
When ready to assemble the cake, have a 15.5cm ring at the ready. This mousse cake is assembled upside down. To have a smooth top surface, I wrapped plastic wrap, stretched until taut and free of wrinkles, over the ring and secured it in place with a rubber band (I find parchment paper tends to wrinkle). Place the ring, plastic side down, on a tray that can fit in the freezer (I used another cake pan slightly bigger in diameter).
Prepare the peach yoghurt mousse. Pour about 1/3 to 1/2 in the prepared ring. Use a small offset spatula to draw it a bit of the way up the sides of the mold so that when you put in the insert, it will be surrounded by mousse all around the edges.
Use a warm towel to wrap around the sides of the frozen peach jelly insert to loosen it from the ring. Place over the mousse. Pour the remaining mango mousse over top. Press the houjicha cheesecake overtop until it is just level with the mousse (alternatively, you can completely submerge the houjicha cheesecake layer). Place the cake the freezer until completely frozen.
When ready to glaze the mousse cake, prepare the mirror glaze. Once it has reached the target temperature of 90-94F, use a warm towel to loosen the frozen mousse cake from the ring. Set the mousse cake on a rack or plastic container so that the excess glaze can drip off of the cake. Pour the glaze overtop starting from the middle and circling outwards until the edges are covered. With one draw of a long spatula, smooth the excess glaze from the top of the cake (I skipped this step this time around). I then drizzled a bit of plain mirror glaze overtop for a design.
Allow the cake to finish dripping and then carefully transfer it to the shortbread base. Let thaw (overnight in the fridge) before serving.
baked houjicha cheesecake insert
Adapted from Stella Parks. Makes one 12cm diametre insert.
- 1 ½ tsp houjicha powder (3g) + 1 tbsp hot water
- 113g cream cheese at room temperature
- 20g sugar
- Pinch salt
- 30g egg
- 10g heavy cream
Preheat the oven to 250F. Line a 12-cm ring or tin with parchment paper.
Whisk the houjicha powder with the hot water, adding it a tablespoon at a time, until a whiskable paste is formed. Whisk the paste until very smooth – do your best to whisk out any lumps. Set aside.
Cream the cream cheese with a wooden spoon until smooth. Add the houjicha paste and stir until mixed. Add the salt and sugar and cream until just combined.
Add the egg to the cream cheese mixture in a few additions, incorporating each completely before the next. Be sure to scrape down the spoon after each addition.
Heat the heavy cream in the microwave until it bubbles (watch carefully!). Add this to the batter and stir until combined. Pour into the prepared ring/tin.
Place the tarts in the oven and bake for around 20 minutes or until only the centre couple of inches are jiggly. The internal temperature I measured was about 155F. Let cool before refrigerating to chill completely.
peach jelly insert
Adapted from Ricardo.
- 75g peach puree (from around 1 peach), pureed with ½ tsp lemon juice to minimize discolouration
- 3/8 tsp gelatin bloomed in 1 ½ tsp water
Have a 12-cm diameter ring ready. Place the ring over a sheet of parchment paper on a tray that can fit in the freezer (I used a cake pan slightly bigger in diameter).
Bloom the gelatin, melt by microwaving (usually 5-10 seconds does the job), and whisk into the peach puree. Pour into the ring and tap the tray to level out the jelly. Freeze.
houjicha shortbread base
Adapted from here. Due to shrinkage of the pastry, the base should be cut out 1 about cm wider than the mousse cake. I cut mine out 2cm wider in diametre just in case, but the base ended up being a bit too big so I think 1cm wider have been ideal.
- 38g butter
- 15g almond
- 75g whole wheat flour
- ½ tsp houjicha powder
- 2 tsp granulated sugar
- Pinch salt
- 25-26g egg
Cream together butter with the almond, flour, houjicha powder, sugar and salt until the mixture sandy in consistency. Add the egg and mix to form a cohesive dough. Roll out between two sheets of parchment paper to about 4mm in thickness. Chill completely.
Preheat oven to 350F.
Cut out a circle around 16.cm in diametre or 1cm wider in diametre than the mousse cake to account for shrinkage during baking.
Prick all over with a fork. Bake the round for around 15 minutes or until the bottom is lightly browned (bake some of the leftover scraps and check those to avoid breaking the cake base).
peach yoghurt mousse
- 240g peach puree (around 3 peaches), made with a couple tsp of lemon juice to minimize discolouration
- 2 tsp gelatin, bloomed in 2 tbsp water
- 1 1/2 tbsp granulated sugar (or more, to taste)
- 160g whipping cream
- 120g greek yoghurt
Heat the peach puree in a small sauce pan until it begins to bubble. Melt the gelatin in the microwave (10 seconds or less should be enough) and whisk into the mango puree. Add the sugar and taste for sweetness – more or less may be needed depending on the peaches and desired sweetness level.
Set aside the peach puree to cool until closer to room temperature.
Meanwhile, whip the cream. Once the peach puree has cooled, stir in the greek yoghurt. Stir in a bit of the whipped cream to lighten, then add the remaining cream and fold in gently with a rubber spatula. Use right away.
houjicha mirror glaze
- 300g mirror glaze (though 250g should be sufficient; 300g ensures you have extra)
- 1 1/2 tsp houjicha powder
- 1 tbsp hot water
Whisk the matcha and hot water together until very smooth – do your best to whisk out any lumps. Set aside.
Place the mirror glaze in a small saucepan and warm up over medium heat while stirring to melt the glaze. Transfer the glaze to a 2-cup measuring cup or other tall cup that will allow the immersion blender to be completely submerged in glaze (this is important to avoid the introduction of bubbles). Add the matcha paste and combine with the glaze using the immersion blender. Once smooth, pass through a sieve into a cup with a pouring spout.
Allow the mirror glaze to cool, stirring every so often to prevent a skin from forming on the surface. Don’t whisk the glaze and be sure to stir slowly so that no air bubbles are introduced – as it cools it will become harder and harder for any bubbles to pop.
Check the temperature every so often. Once the mirror glaze has cooled to 90-94F, it is ready to be poured.