Hearts and Flours à la Japonais for Kristen’s #Improv Challenge

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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Sesame seeds delivered in dinner or dessert dishes are eternally in vogue in Japan. Served au natural or in paste form, a smile is almost guaranteed if I incorporate the nutty tidbits into a sweet or savory treat for my Japanese friends. So as a thank you to some of my pals in dance class who have kindly invited me to tea ceremonies and into their homes, I set out to make sesame sugar cookies crowned with vanilla cheesecake swirled with sesame paste. And to fulfill Kristen of Harried Antics of a Harried Homemaker's Improv Challenge to food bloggers to create something with flours and hearts for February, I opted to bake mini cheesecakes and cookies in heart shapes. 

The Ninja Baker's Sesame Cheesecake Hearts 

To my surprise, my American neighbors loved my sesame concoctions. And they are all gone. So, back to the kitchen for another round for my Japanese friends. 

The winning recipes below. I adapted the cookie crust from Jill Saunder’s Sugar Cookies at Allrecipes.com. The cheesecake filling is a variation on the one posted at King Arthur Flour.

Sesame Cheesecake Filling
2 cups cream cheese, at room temperature
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sugar
3 teaspoons sesame paste
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine all the above ingredients until well mixed with an electric mixer.

Sesame Cookies Crust
¾ cup butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon sesame paste
2 eggs
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 ½  cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½  teaspoon salt
1 ¼ teaspoon sesame seeds

With an electric mixer cream together the butter, sugar and sesame paste in a large bowl. Next incorporate the eggs one at a time. Add the vanilla extract.

In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Gradually stir on low speed into the butter, sugar, sesame paste mixture. When everything is well combined, add the sesame seeds. Chill the cookie dough for about an hour in the refrigerator.



For the cheesecake crust, press cookie dough into the bottoms of well-greased and floured heart shaped cake pans. Fill with sesame cheesecake filling.

Another option is to place the cheesecake filling into the pans first and top with the cookie dough. After baking and cooling the cheesecakes you can flip the pans – carefully.

I’ve done both methods. Both work equally but require a knife to be run around the cheesecakes and cookies before removing from the pans.

Whichever method you choose; bake the cheesecakes with cookie crusts for about 30 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Turning the pan around mid-bake. The tops will be firm and a toothpick or knife will come out clean.

Garnish with mini sesame cookies if desired.


Note: For cookies only, you’ll want to roll out the dough to about a ¼ to ½ thickness, then cut out hearts. Refrigerate again for an hour and then bake for 6 to 8 minutes in a 400-degree oven.

To see how others answered the call to Kristen's Improv Challenge, click on the pictures below.

Wishing you fun with flour for and with the dear hearts in your life.


The Ninja Baker

© ™ Watkinson 2012

The Ninja Baker has guest blogged and contributed recipes to numerous food sites. These additional recipes can be found here.





Love Hearts :)

I love anything heart shaped! I must be a bit of a sook but I think it makes any dessert sweeter and more delicious. These look gorgeous and I am sure, very delicious, well done with the challenge :)

I didn't know about the love

I didn't know about the love for all things sesame in Japan! My mom was forever trying to recreate Chinese sesame cookies that she must have eaten somewhere...we kids weren't thrilled with them, and I don't think she ever found the perfect recipe. I have a feeling we'd both adore your more decadent sesame cheesecake hearts...beautifully done, my friend!

Some traditional Japanese

Some traditional Japanese sweets and savory dishes are laden with a strong sesame flavor. As much as the culture and the food seeped into me, when it comes to sesame, I like a more subtle bouquet =) On the other hand, when it comes to chocolate I like a full blast. So glad I can turn to That Skinny Chick Can Bake site any time I need a recipe au chocolat.

Thank you for your comment,

Thank you for your comment, Kate. It means a lot coming from the lady with the red velvet cakes with the lovely chocolate garnishes who is camera ready for Cupcake Wars =)

These are so pretty, Kim!

These are so pretty, Kim! And I love sesame too in any form, seed or paste. I love that this is a combo of cookie, cheesecake and sesame, yum! I don't know why I never think to combine traditional Western desserts with Asian flavours. You're inspiring me to do so :)