Cheesecake is one of my great loves. Baked, unbaked, baklava-clad or piped straight into my open mouth, the day I decline a serving is the day you shovel the dirt over me.
When I saw a recipe for a three-ingredient Japanese Cotton Cheesecake flooding my feeds, I had to try it out. My first taste of Japanese-style cheesecake was at Uncle Tetsu’s Cheesecake in Singapore. Their confections are steam-baked and the result is a light cake with a set mousse-like quality; it’s all of the cream cheese flavour, but with none of the heft.
Well-beaten egg whites are key to this recipe’s success. That and choosing the right size baking tin/mould. On my first attempt, I used a tin that was far too big for the amount of batter I’d made. The cake did not rise much and I was left with a flat, albeit tasty, flop.
I’ve adapted the original recipe ¬†( to include dried naartjie peel. Citrus flavours are wonderful for overpowering any overly eggy notes, and it just pairs so well with white chocolate.
Naartjie Cheesecake (3-ingredient Japanese Method)
  • 255g white chocolate
  • 225g cream cheese
  • 2TBSP ground dried naartjie peel
  • 6 large eggs, separated
Preheat oven to 170 degrees Celsius.
Prepare cake mould/tin by greasing and lining the sides with baking paper. The paper should extend a few centimetres upward from the rim of the cake tin. This allows the cake to rise soufflé-like without cracking. I used a heart-shaped silicone mould measuring approximately 20cm.
Melt the chocolate in a double-boiler.
Remove from heat and stir in the cream cheese and naartjie powder. Allow the mixture to cool down a little before adding the egg yolks.
Whip egg whites until stiff. If you are able to hold the bowl upside down without them falling out, the whites are ready for the batter.
Fold the egg whites into the batter in three parts, making sure that as you’re mixing them in, you are not beating out too much of their volume.
Pour the batter into the prepared tin/mould. Firmly knock the bottom of the tin against your counter top to dislodge any air pockets.
Place the tin into a roasting pan and pour water around it. If you’re using a springform tin, cover the base with foil to prevent any water from seeping into your cake as it bakes.
Bake at 170 degrees Celsius for 15 minutes.
Lower the heat to 160 and bake for a further 15 minutes.
Turn off the heat and leave cake in the oven for an additional 15 minutes.
If you still find that the center shimmies too much (though do remember, cheesecake will firm up once it’s out of the oven), turn the heat back on to 160 degrees and bake until it’s a bit more set.
Leave cake to cool and finish however you like. I sprinkled over ground dried naartjie peel and castor sugar to serve.


I love how the citrus punched up the creamy flavours. The cake tasted even better the next day, having had a chance to settle and ripen.