Ube Cheesecake

Who doesn’t love cheesecake?  And for those of us who grew up in the islands, who doesn’t love ube-anything?  If you haven’t tried ube, or taro, now’s the time.

While vacationing on Guam not too long ago, I went to a restaurant that featured a taro cheesecake as one of their signature desserts.  It was to-die for!  The cheesecake was rich, creamy, and topped with a crispy caramelized sugar topping that took this dessert to an entirely new level!

I decided then and there that I would try my hand at making this cheesecake.  I decided to use steamed and puréed fresh purple yams instead of ube jam.  Ube jam is good, don’t get me wrong; I just wanted to control the amount of sugar I put into the cheesecake and ube jam is already sweetened.

I’m forewarning you…this cheesecake takes a while to prepare.  The mixing of the batter doesn’t take that long at all.  There are, however, several steps in making this cheesecake, but it’s worth it in the end.  The cooling process takes a very long time as well, about 4-6 hours, preferably overnight.  But don’t let all that discourage you from giving my recipe a try.  While there are a lot of steps, it’s a very easy recipe to make.

Give it a try and let me know how it turned out for you.

Ube Cheesecake

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Make the Crust:

  • 18 graham cracker squares
  • 3 tablespoons white, granulated sugar
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

This is a photo of graham cracker “squares.”  Depending on the brand, some graham crackers are rectangular shaped.  I used plain graham crackers for this recipe.  I do not recommend using graham crackers that have sugar and cinnamon on them.

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Break the squares into small pieces and place into a food processor.

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Pulse until you get fine crumbs.

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Pour the crumbs in a bowl, stir in the sugar, then fold in the melted butter.

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Spread the crust mixture in the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.

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Press the crumbs into the bottom of the pan and just slightly up the side.  I use a measuring cup to press down on the crust to really compress it.

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Bake for 15 minutes at 325 degrees, or until the crust turns a nice rich brown.

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Make the Cheesecake Batter:

  • 1 1/3 cups white granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 packages cream cheese, softened at room temperature
  • 2 cups steamed and puréed purple yam or taro (about 1 large or 2 medium ones)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 cup heavy cream

Cook the yams:

There are many ways to cook yams.  You can roast them in your oven, bake, boil or steam them.  I prefer to roast yams if I’m eating them by itself as part of my meal.  However, for this recipe, I decided to steam them.

Fill a pot with just enough water so that the water does not touch the steam basket when it’s placed into the pot.  Bring the water to a boil.

Wash the yams throughly.  Use a dish scrubber to remove any dirt. Cut out any dark, rough spots.

Peel the yams. Cut the yams into large chunks.

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Place the yams into the steamer basket then place the basket over the pot of boiling water.

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Cover the pot and let the yams steam for 25-30 minutes. The yams are ready when they are tender when pierced with a fork.

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Place the yams into a blender or food processor.  Pulse until the yams are smooth and creamy.  Set aside for now.

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Make the Filling:

Before getting started on the filling, I need to say a word or two about the cream cheese…you really want to use full fat cream cheese in this recipe.  Reduced fat cream cheese doesn’t bake well, especially in cheesecakes.  I like Philadelphia brand cream cheese over other brands, but use the brand you like.

You’ll also notice I used heavy cream in my recipe instead of sour cream.  The sour cream is traditionally used in recipes for New York style cheesecake, making for a tangier dessert.  I didn’t want to overpower the yams so I opted for the milder heavy cream.

Alright, back to the filling.  Whisk the sugar and salt together in a small bowl.  Set aside.

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Spread the puréed yam on a triple layer of paper towels.  Place another triple layer of paper towels on top of the yam.  Press down on the paper towels to soak up as much moisture as possible.  If you don’t press out the liquid, your cheesecake will turn out too wet and you’ll end up with a fall-apart, mousse-like pie.

Because I steamed the yams rather than boiled them, there wasn’t that much water to squeeze out.

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Place the softened cream cheese in a stand mixer on medium low speed; mix for a minute or two.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

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Mix 1/3 of the sugar mixture with the cheese.  Mix on medium speed for a minute until the sugar is incorporated.  Scrape down the bowl and paddle then add another 1/3 of the sugar.  Mix again then scrape down the bowl and paddle.  Add the remaining sugar; mix until creamy.

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Add the pureed yam to the bowl, along with the vanilla extract.  Mix on medium speed for a minute.  Scrape the sides of the bowl again.

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Add 3 eggs to the bowl, mix for a minute, scrape down the sides, then add the last 2 eggs, mix and scrape.

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Add the heavy cream.  Mix for another minute.

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Bake the Cheesecake:

Pour the filling into the cooled crust.

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I decided to bake this cheesecake in a water bath.  This prevents the top of the cheesecake from cracking during baking. You could also place a pan filled with water in the rack beneath the cheesecake.  If using a water bath, place two layers of foil beneath the springform pan.  Wrap the foil around the sides of the pan.  This keeps the water from the water bath from seeping into the pan.

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Place the foil-covered springform pan into a large roasting pan.

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Place the roasting pan with the cheesecake inside it into a pre-heated 325 degree oven.  Pour hot water into the roasting pan (be sure to wait until AFTER you place the pan into the oven to pour in the hot water).  The water should come about halfway up the side of the springform pan.

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Bake for 1 1/2 hours.  If you have a thermometer, take the temperature at the edge of the cheesecake to see if it is done.  The cheesecake is done when the temperature reaches between 145 and 150 degrees. Or, do what I do and use the “jiggle method” to check for doneness.  If you move the pan, the center of the cheesecake should move or jiggle only slightly.  Too much jiggle in the middle means you need to cook it a bit longer (10-15 minutes should do it).

When the cheesecake is done, remove the roasting pan and cheesecake from the oven.  CAUTION!  Be very careful taking the pan out of the oven!  You don’t want to spill hot water on yourself!!  Leave the cheesecake in the pan of hot water for 1 hour before removing it from the roasting pan.

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After an hour of cooling at room temperature, the cheesecake needs to now cool in the refrigerator.  Cover the cheesecake with plastic wrap and chill for 4-6 more hours in the refrigerator; chilling overnight is even better.

NOTE:  After chilling for just 4 hours, I cut a slice of the cheesecake.  The middle was still a bit softer and creamier than the edges.  It appeared that the cheesecake was underdone, but it was cooked the right amount of time.  All I needed to do was refrigerate it for a few more hours (overnight cooling did the trick).  In the morning, the cheesecake was PERFECTLY set.

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Caramelized Sugar Topping:

  • 4 tablespoons superfine sugar

Before serving, sprinkle the superfine sugar all over the top of the slice of cheesecake.

NOTE:  4 tablespoons of sugar covers the ENTIRE cheesecake.  You’ll need about one teaspoon of sugar per slice.

If you can’t find superfine sugar at your grocery store, just blend regular white, granulated sugar for a minute or two until you get superfine granules.

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Use a creme brûlée torch to melt and caramelize the sugar.  Allow the caramelized sugar to harden then  serve.

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For presentation purposes (for pretty pictures 😉 ), I caramelized sugar on top of the entire cheesecake.  However, I recommend you slice individual pieces of cheesecake BEFORE caramelizing sugar on top.

The melted sugar hardens and makes cutting clean slices a challenge if you caramelize sugar on top of the ENTIRE cheesecake rather than just one slice at a time.

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Here’s a tip for an easy way to cleanly slice the cheesecake.  Dip a knife (a carving knife works well since it has a narrow blade) into a glass or pitcher of very hot water.  Dry off the knife before slicing.

Serve and ENJOY!

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79 comments

  1. Maria says:

    What size pan did you use? I’ve been making Cheesecake in the instant pot with a 6″ springform and hoping this recipe fits in that

  2. Bev says:

    I finally made it, it was the best and my family raved about it. According to them, this was better than the one in Seattle! Kudos to you and thanks for sharing the recipe. It was divine!!!

  3. Bev says:

    I don’t have a kitchen torch, can you suggest any toppings, please? Thanks

  4. Nora Kelly says:

    Well so far it’s in the oven cooling. It’s in the wobbly stage. Batter was runny even after I did the paper towel trick. I used frozen Ube. Next time I will use cheesecloth like you suggested. I’m nervous!

  5. GIna Echevarria says:

    Hi Annie,
    I used water bath but it still cracked even before the 90 minutes were over. What fid I do wrong?

    Thanks,
    Gina

    • There are many reasons why your cheesecake cracked. Without knowing precisely what you did, it’s hard to
      pinpoint what could have gone wrong.

      Here are a few tips to prevent cracking.
      – use room temperature cream cheese
      – mix the batter (minus the eggs) very well
      – avoid opening the oven door during baking
      – do not over bake! The center of the cheesecake should still be wobbly in the middle when the cooking time is up.
      – once done, turn off the oven, crack open the door and leave the cheesecake in the oven for one hour
      – let the cheesecake come to room temperature then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours (overnight is better)

  6. Roni Goldberg says:

    Hi , In your recipe you call for 2 packages of cream cheese. Is that 2/ 8 oz pkgs?

  7. Acasia says:

    Hello there! I’ve tried making this three times now, it turns out wonderfully BUT I can never seem to puree my sweet potato right!

    The first time I did it, my sweet potato ended up turning into a glutinous, dough-like glob. The next couple of times I did it, it appeared to be smooth, but ended up being lumpy once I combined it with the cream cheese. These past few attempts, I’ve spent 15 minutes pushing the batter through a strainer so that it becomes smooth and it’s a PAIN! However, I definitely gained some toned arms in the process LOL

    Any advice for how to puree the sweet potato? How long should I wait for them to cool before mixing?

  8. HONEY DOLL Ancheta says:

    How about if im going to use the purple yam powder?

  9. Jack Peterson says:

    I’ll definitely make this.. I was on Guam.. Had my first slice at proa restaurant… It’s the best

  10. Karen says:

    I tried your recipe but my batter was runny (used frozen purple yam) not as thick as your batter. I followed all your steps beside using fresh ube. What did I do wrong? How to prevent runny batter? Also, my cheesecake came out ok but the color is lighter than your finish product. Should I add food coloring? if yes, how much? Your cheesecake was a hit at home though.

    • Since you used frozen yam, that probably added extra water, making your batter too thin. Make sure you thaw it out completely then use a clean cloth to squeeze out as much water as you can. Food coloring is not necessary, but if you want it a darker color, a few drops should do the trick.

  11. MissingGUlife says:

    I used 1 16oz package of frozen cooked, grated purple taro. It took a while to remove the excess moisture. I followed the steps but throughout the mixing, I noticed it wasn’t as thick as your pictures. It’s in the oven now, with the water bath. I hope it turns out, but I feel like I might have ube mousse!

      • MissingGUlife says:

        It turned out great! I was scared bc of how it looked going in and it wasn’t as purple as yours coming out. Then there were cracks at the top! But I took a piece out from the crack and it tasted great. I let it sit in fridge over night. With my extra whipping cream, I made whipped cream for the top since I don’t have a torch. I served it for Mother’s Day and my inlaws loved it! I had friends stop by and tried it, they loved it. I’m on here again to make it bc a friend ask me to bring it for a birthday party (along with a pan of red rice!). Thank you for your great recipe.

  12. It’s kinda hard to find ube in my area and I’m wondering if sweet potatoes will work just the same. What do you think?

  13. Amery says:

    I made it yesterday for Easter & it was soooo good! I followed the steps except that I put in 1pack of frozen ube*thawed & add up 1 tsp of ube extract. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe! ♡ from Sydney, AU

  14. Jer says:

    Anyone tried using cupcake size cheesecake? If so, what is the baking time and temp. Thx

    • I’ve never made this cupcake-sized, but here is what I suggest. Bake at 325 for 18-20 minutes (check at 20). The cheesecake should be firm but the center should jiggle a little. If it isn’t firm yet, bake 5 minutes longer (25 minutes should be enough time). Remove from the cupcake pan (provided you baked these in cupcake liners) and cook on a wire rack for at least 1 hour or until cooled to room temperature. Refrigerate for a few hours or overnight (cover the cheesecakes with plastic wrap first).

  15. Angie says:

    Can i use purple yam powder instead? If so, how much do I use?

  16. Rax says:

    I’m so excited to try this.. Wish me luck!

  17. Dinah says:

    This looks very tasty. I was wondering if it will change the taste if I don’t do the carmelization on top. I do not have a kitchen torch to do that cool part. 🙂 Thank you!

  18. Anny says:

    Hi do you know the exact name of the taro? I went to the store and got taro but it wasn’t purple . Help!

    • Ask the store clerks for Ube, purple yam, purple sweet potato, or Okinawan Sweet potato.

      • Vange says:

        Hi I’m thinking of trying this recipe..but being an islander I’m a little confused of the term taro as you interchange this with yam and sweet patato , but they are all different. Taro in Fiji is Dalo. Are you saying I can use taro as well as sweet patato (Kumala) or Yam (uvi) for this cheesecake? My dad has a taro plantation so was hoping to try this out for his birthday cake when I head back to the islands this December. But just want to make sure I can use Taro. In Fiji the common Taro is the white one. Will this do? Hope it would be suitable as a friends sister made this and it was THE BEST cheesecake I’ve ever eaten!!! My mate sent me your link to try myself 🙂

  19. marie says:

    Can i prepare just half of the filling?:) Everything else I will follow including the water bath.

  20. Julie says:

    Can you use Ube jam?

  21. Sharlyne T. says:

    I just tried this recipe this past weekend and it was so good. I used frozen grated purple yam. Thanks for sharing your recipe. I give this recipe 5 stars.

  22. Amy says:

    Aloha!! I own a cheesecake shop in Hawaii and have been dying to make an ube cheesecake!! I just wasn’t sure how to prep the ube so thank you for this!!
    Btw… Let me share a tip: cutting a cheesecake with a hot knife works but the way to slice your cheesecake is with dental floss!

  23. Mermaidhah says:

    Sorry how big is this cheesecake?

  24. sakurasweets says:

    Could I make this cheesecake without the crust? or would that not be a good idea?

  25. Anna says:

    Wow! Will try this now, however, is frozen grated ube fine?

  26. Fran says:

    Can you use grated ube?

    • Fran, the Ube has to be cooked and mashed for this recipe. If you have raw, grated Ube, I recommend steaming it to cook it, then place the cooked Ube in between paper towels and squeeze out as much moisture as you can.

  27. Mel says:

    Hi! Could I bake it without the water bath?

    • Mel, you really do need to bake this with a water bath or at least with a pan of water in the oven beneath the cheesecake. The water bath creates an even heat and regulates the oven temperature. This is especially important in this recipe because of the yams/sweet potatoes in it, which requires the cheesecake to be baked at a low temperature with a water bath in order to prevent the top of the cheesecake from cracking.

  28. Clem Buenaventura says:

    blessed sunday to you! many thanks for sharing your recipe, my ube cheesecake turned out heavenly!!! except for the sugar topping, i followed every step exactly as you’ve instructed. again, thank you for your generosity! God bless and keep you!

  29. Jenn says:

    OMG!!! I love ube and you combined it with cheesecake!! I have never seen such combination before! Thank you so much for sharing this recipe! I can’t wait to try and make this soon!

  30. Ramona says:

    It’s beautiful! Would like to try this. Purple cheesecake!

  31. Thank you Annie for your beautiful recipe! I’m definitely gonna give this one a try….

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