I finally made Durian Cheesecake / Durian Tart on Friday after having long creative thoughts to change my Jackfruit Cheesecake recipe into a Durian one! The result was totally yum, just as good as the Jackfruit Cheesecake I’ve made with a hint of “Durian-ness”!!
If you are not familiar with Durian, this somewhat “scary” looking and thorny seasonal (typically from June-August) fruit is widely known as King Of Fruits in many South East Asian countries, i.e. Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, etc. Although this fruit look tough and thorny on the outside, the actual fruit in the inside is creamy, custardy, soft, slightly mushy and has a distinctive aroma that many found very overpowering and offensive. Durian is a fruit that you either would LOVE it or totally ABHOR it! Just mention durian, and you’ll send chills down the spine of those who loathe this fruit! My family and I (and thankfully my husband too) however absolutely adore Durian! My dad is always willing to fork out money to buy some good Durian. I vividly remember once we drove up to a Durian Farm in Balik Pulau (in Penang, Malaysia) just to fill up our tummy with Durian and filled the whole car trunk with good Durians worth several hundred ringgits!
Hotels in Malaysia and Singapore ban guests to bring Durian into their premises because this fruit leaves an aroma (or odor) that will linger around for hours!!! Most Westerners (and some locals) are terrified of the fruit and thought it stunk!
Anthony Bourdain of No Reservations and The Travel Channel surprisingly actually enjoy this pungent fruit and related his encounter with the fruit as thus: “Its taste can only be described as... indescribable, something you will either love or despise. ...Your breath will smell as if you'd been French-kissing your dead grandmother”. Apparently, Chef Andrew Zimmerman of Bizarre Food tried eating Durian twice, failed, spitted it out and compared it to, “completely rotten, mushy onions..”.
Durian trees are generally very large and tall, growing to 20-25 meters in height depending on the species. The Durian fruit itself are also large, grows up to 12 inch x 6 inch (usually the size of a Cantaloupe to a Watermelon) and can weigh from 2-7 lbs. In Malaysia, Durians are not plucked but rather picked from the ground (or from suspended nets) when the ripe Durians fall!
There are many different kind of Durian varieties available (in Malaysia) and they are all priced differently and have slightly different look on the outside, the inside and taste different from one variety to another! I just love Malaysian durians and unfortunately unable to get them in the US. The Durians we get in the US are mostly from Thailand and I feel not as fragrant as the ones in Malaysia, maybe because it’s always frozen! I love my durian fresh but can’t be too picky living in the US, so frozen Durians will have to make do! Here’re two pictures of the Durian, still frozen!
It took me quite a while to remove the Durian fruit ( I did not thaw it long enough…) from the intimidating thorny husks without leaving me with cut fingers! I reserved some to eat it as is, and used some of it to create Durian Cheesecake based on my Jackfruit Cheesecake recipe! I needed to change measurements in some of the ingredients to make sure that I can taste the hint of the Durian in the cheesecake! Here’s a picture of the cheesecake before (left) and after (right) baking. I baked it in a removable tart pan which I thought looked very nice. Previously, I made the cheesecake in a regular spring foam cake pan.
I am extremely extremely proud of this Durian Cheesecake creation….Here’s why! Rob (English) and Seyda (Turkish), who initially hated Durian and previously gagged trying to swallow a tiny piece of Durian fruit (both ended up spitting the fruit) ATE A WHOLE PIECE OF DURIAN CHEESECAKE! Chris (Filipino/American) who had tried Durian once and vowed to stay away from Durian, thought it was pretty good as well and also ate a whole piece! I offered them some whipped cream to help “dilute” and hide the durian taste, but all of them declined the cream and ate it as is!
Seyda was at first skeptical about Durian Cheesecake fearing that it would be a horrible repeat of eating the Durian fruit, Durian Chocolate (while in Malaysia) and Durian Dimsum dessert incidents. Her curiosity somehow conquered her fear and hesitation and she decided to try half a piece. To my surprise and hers, the taste was acceptable to her and she actually asked for MORE!!! Mind you, the Durian taste and smell is not really subtle in the cheesecake! On the other hand, all of us did not tell Rob the “actual” flavor of the Cheesecake thus just offered him a piece of “Cheesecake”. He ate it, savored it, DID NOT GAGGED (unlike the time he ate Durian fruit) and FINISHED IT! Rob commented that he thought there was a funky smell to the cheesecake but would have never guessed it was Durian!I think I should start taking orders and selling this Durian Cheesecake! Chef Andrew Zimmerman, I DARE you to give June’s Durian Cheesecake a try!!!What do you think?!