There is no Japanese flower more iconic than the beloved cherry blossom, thesakura.Sakura are the first sudden and delicate sign of spring in Japan. They symbolize the fleeting nature of life and renewal, providing opportunities for reflection. In celebration, the Japanese holdhanami,or cherry blossom viewing events with friends and family, where they may picnic under the trees and admire the falling petals with drinks and sakura-themed confectionaries.
But you aren’t lucky enough to have hanami in Japan, there’s no reason why you can’t simply bringhanami into your home! Incorporating sakura blossoms into your sweets brings a natural pop of spring color and flavor into your kitchen thanks to salt-pickled sakura blossoms. These vibrant pink double-blossom sakura from Kanagawa Prefecture are carefully hand-picked and preserved with only salt and plum vinegar.
As the pickled bite remains on the blossoms, they should not be eaten as is. We recommend pairing sakura with creamy flavors to blunt the sourness without eliminating the blossom’s delicate floral notes. This simple, no-bake cheesecake recipe allows for that balance with the gorgeous blossoms featured prominently in the floral agar jelly topping. Experiencinghanami at home has never been so easy!
Servings: 4 5oz cheesecake cups
- 200ml heavy whipping cream
- 300g (about 1½ blocks) cream cheese, room temperature
- 40g, plus 1 tbsp for the jelly, sugar
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- ½ tsp vanilla
- 10g (stems included), plus 4 blossoming for the jelly garnish, salt pickled sakura
- 1g agar (⅕ of a block)
- 200ml water
- Less than 1 drop (see instructions) pink food coloring (optional)
- ~50g Kokuto Cookie (see recipe) or any other graham/biscoff cookie, crushed in a food processor
- Whip the cream with an electric mixer or whisk until stiff peaks form. Set aside.
- In another bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar until combined and creamy. Mix in the lemon juice, and vanilla. Scrape down the sides and ensure all ingredients are combined.
- In a folding motion, incorporate the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture in two batches. Set aside.
- Prepare the cups for your cheesecakes. Divide your crushed cookies amongst the four cups. Press down lightly.
- Transfer the cheesecake mixture into a piping bag or sealable plastic storage bag.
- To pipe the cheesecake, cut the tip of the bag about a centimeter and begin piping from the bottom of each cup, only moving the bag up slowly from the center as the cup fills. This will keep the sides of the cup from filling unevenly.
- Once a cup is filled about 75 percent of the way, lift up your piping bag and repeat the process amongst the remaining cups.
- On a kitchen counter covered with a towel, gently tap each cup straight down to remove air pockets.
- Cover and let the cheesecake batter chill, approximately 3 hours.
- About midway into the chilling process, prepare the jelly. Rinse off all of the blossoms a few times in cold water to remove the salt. Set 4 of the best-looking blossoms aside. Rip up the agar into small pieces so it is easier to dissolve. In a small saucepan, cold-steep the remaining blossoms and water for about 45 minutes to an hour.
- After this time, add the tablespoon of sugar to the saucepan. If using food coloring, do so sparingly. Put a drop of food coloring on a plate and lightly graze a whisk on it to pick up a small bit of the dye. Insert the whisk into the water to mix the color to create a very light pink shade. The water should still be fairly translucent.
- Bring the mixture to a boil on the stove, all the while whisking vigorously to agitate the agar into dissolving.
- Keep the saucepan on a low boil until all of the agar and sugar has dissolved.
- Turn off the heat and strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a liquid measuring cup. Use a cooking thermometer to monitor the agar until it reaches 50°C or 120°F. Agar will start solidifying at any lower than this temperature.
- Once the agar reaches the target temperature, remove the cheesecakes from the refrigerator. Add a blossom to the middle of the cheesecake and then pour agar mixture to the brim of the cup.
- Cover, and refrigerate until the jelly has solidified over the cheesecake, approximately 30 minutes to an hour.
- This dessert is best served same day, but you may keep leftovers stored in the refrigerator for approximately 3 days.
Recipe available in our Baking: "Amai" Care Package
About the recipe creator and photographer: Yaz Gentry is a freelance recipe developer and food-lover based in Tokyo, Japan. Half-Japanese and half-American, she enjoys fusing together seasonal ingredients and dishes from both cultures as a reflection of her mixed heritage. You can follow her culinary adventures at www.meshibliss.com and @