And Now for Something Entirely Different: Moss in Japan

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Japan is apparently obsessed with moss.  And Moss is obsessed with Japan.   As a result, today’s guest blogger is Moss and today’s feature recipe is a Japanese Cheesecake.

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Moss varieties in the Ginkakuji garden, Kyoto, Japan (photo by Paul Mannix)

After sending out a call soliciting guest bloggers, one of the first to respond was Moss, our younger grandson.  Well, actually, come to think of it, it was Sara, our daughter, and mother to Moss.  She volunteered him.  Since we talked about Moss and green things last week, it seemed just right to position him as our second guest blogger.  Of course, it’s hard to follow David, our first guest blogger, who has about 60 more years of experience, but Moss is a tough cookie, so to speak – though the green snickerdoodles we made for him last week were very tender – certainly not tough.

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Moss, accomplished photo-shopper – as well as rock-climber and chef

Moss Collage Early Years

Yes, our grandson, Moss, is entirely different!  In a most wonderful way.  And here is his blog and the video that he and his friend Kira made:

Hi, my name is Moss. I’m 12,  almost 13 (my birthday is April 13). I love to rock climb and bake. I made this Japanese cheesecake because I’m going to Japan soon and I heard there’s a bakery which is known for their Japanese cheesecake (Rikuro). I saw a video and immediately I wanted to make it. The cake is soft and airy, and has a wonderful jiggle. Also this cheesecake is not really filling so one person could (i’m not saying they should) eat a whole cake by themselves. After I got asked to be a guest blogger, I went to my friend’s house with my camera and my tripod (given to me by my amazing grandparents) to do something better than make the cake and take pictures of it. I wanted to film it. Although the cheesecake didn’t turn out perfectly, it was still fun to make and I really think, whoever sees this should try to make this cake at least once.



Next – in his preparation for Japan – Moss made a Matcha Coconut Mochi Cake, following this recipe on Food 52.  If you’ve never had Mochi, be prepared to find it addictive.  It’s not too sweet and has a chewy texture unlike any other cake.  What a splendid way to use more of the matcha you bought for our Craftsman and Wolves Matcha Snickerdoodles!  Mochiko, the Sweet Rice flour we use is readily available in markets here in Northern California.  Moss suggests that you add an extra tablespoon of matcha to the cake – so 2T total.

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Moss’s Matcha Coconut Mochi Cake

And some follow-up questions from me for Moss:

What are your favorite music groups you listen to with those big headphones you wear all of the time?

I listen to the Gorillaz, I also listen to Tyler the Creator and finally Clairo.

What meal will you ask your mama to fix for your birthday?  Or, if you want to go out, Where do you want to go

I think I wanna go to A-16 because it has amazing pizza and sometimes we get see the people make the pizza in the woodfired oven if we sit at the counter.

What do you look forward to most at school each day?

My friends.    

Why are you going to Japan?

I’m going for my 7th grade graduation. I love the food (sushi, ramen etc.). I also want to see the Bamboo Forest in Kyoto.

Do you follow any food blogs – or have a favorite food video?

I follow many food blogs, like Tastemade and Tastemade Japan. I also follow the very best blog, Big Little Meals.

That’s our boy!

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Moss in his Michael-Pollan/Farmers’-Market mode at age 8: “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants” – unless you’ve got a piece of cheesecake!


Japanese cheesecake is more cake-y, less custard-y than what we think of as cheesecake.

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Japanese Cheesecake

Japanese Cheesecake

Note from Ann:  I’ve  made some adjustments to this, since we first published it.  I have found that using an 8″ cake pan, lined with parchment as indicated, works best.  But then you must cut back on all the ingredients.  I’ve also adjusted the baking instructions.  The corrected ones are in the recipe below. Recipe adapted from

For a 9″ pan – which the original recipe calls for:

  • ⅔ cup milk
  • 4 oz cream cheese
  • 7 T butter
  • 8 egg yolks
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • ¼ cup flour
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • 12 egg whites
  • ⅔ c sugar
  • parchment paper
  • strawberries, to serve (optional)
  • powdered sugar, to serve (optional)

For an 8″ pan (if you happen to have a 4″ deep pan, great.  Just grease it very well with butter, sides and bottom; no need for the parchment.  If using a 2-3″ deep pan, be sure your parchment paper lining comes up 4″ so the cake can rise as it should.

  • 1/2 c milk
  • 3 oz cream cheese
  • 6 T butter
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • 3 T flour
  • 3 T cornstarch
  • 9 egg whites
  • 1/2 c sugar

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Place a 4-inch high parchment paper strip around the edge of an 8″x3″ or 9″x3-inch cake pan that is already lined with parchment at the bottom. If you are using a springform pan, make sure to wrap the bottom and sides completely in foil to prevent any leakage.

In a small pan over medium heat, whisk the milk, cream cheese, and butter until smooth. Remove from heat and cool.

In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the vanilla until smooth, then slowly drizzle in the cream mixture, stirring until evenly combined.

Sift the flour and the cornstarch mixture into the egg yolk mixture, whisking just enough to make sure there are no lumps.

In another large bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until you see soft peaks when lifting the mixer up from the egg whites. Gradually add the sugar while continuing to beat until you see stiff peaks when lifting the mixer up.

Take about ¼ of the egg whites and fold them into the egg yolk mixture, then repeat with the remaining egg whites until the batter is evenly combined.

Pour the batter into the parchment-lined pan and tap gently on the counter to release any large air bubbles.

Place the batter-filled pan into a larger baking pan and then add about 1-inch hot water to the larger pan (creating a water bath for the cake).

Bake for 30 minutes, then reduce the heat to 275°F, and bake for another 50 minutes.  To maintain as much height as possible and avoid cracking, after the 50 minutes, turn off the oven and open the door a bit.  Let the cake stay there till it’s cool enough to handle comfortably – up to an hour.  If it’s the middle of summer and there’s no way you’re opening an oven door for an hour, carefully remove the cheesecake from the oven at the end of the 50 minutes and let cool in the water for 30 minutes and then another 30 minutes in the pan on a wire rack.

Now carefully invert the cake onto your dominant hand and peel off the paper, if you’ve used parchment.  Then place it onto a cake plate, top side up.

If you’re serving immediately, sprinkle the top of the cake with powdered sugar, slice, and serve with strawberries while still warm.  Or refrigerate for a day or two and serve chilled.  Either way is delicious.


Recipe brought to you by Moss in San Francisco and


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  4. theRaggedys says:

    Andy here. Thanks for the accolades for Moss. I will skip pointing out that handsomeness is a genetic trait passed down via the grandfather. However, Moss’ talents as a cook may have something to do with his Nana’s genes.


  5. Hannah says:

    Love all of it! Mossimo is so handsome! I especially like the video, you make it easy as 1-2-3…:-p Speaking of ABC’s can you send a slice of cheesecake to N-Y-C?


  6. Larry says:

    Good job, Moss. The closest I came to making a cheese cake was when I baked brownies to earn a Cub Scout merit badge. I don’t remember much about the ingredients other than using a whole lot of Karo Syrup. Good production values on the video, too.


    • theRaggedys says:

      This is Andy… Thanks for the comment. In my day Cub Scouts didn’t have merit badges so you must be much older than I. But I do recall having lots of Karo Syrup in the cubboard (cupboard if you were not a cub scout).


  7. David Ewing says:

    Wowsa! I don’t know from cheesecakes, but that video was awesome! And the music! I wish my grandkidz were listening to that toe-tapping stuff. But then I listened to Gorillaz. Good Heavens. I hope Moss is not the protagonist of that video. Though I must say I was intrigued by the glimpse of the antelope preparation at the beginning and the ear-on-Cajun-blackened-toast he had for breakfast. One wonders if that was based on one of Andy’s recipes.

    Advice for Moss: NEVER admit your dish didn’t come out as planned. (Better still, don’t plan.) Instead, make up something about how you intended it to come out just as it did. Backpacking cheesecake, maybe.

    And please bring back a recipe from Japan that actually contains moss. Moss’s muchi-muchi moss mousse, perhaps.


    • theRaggedys says:

      Andy here. Thanks for the advice for our grandson. Knowing Moss, I trust he will bring back a namesake recipe from Japan. The video link to Gorillaz you provided was “entertaining,” to say the least, although I doubt that it was “ear-on-Cajun-blackened-toast” in the video… more likely to be English-blackened toast (Paul Prudhomme was meticulous about his toast, although I am not so sure about how he prepared ears).


      • David Ewing says:

        Here are links to some videos about eating “moss” to share with Moss, though I’m pretty sure what the fellow in the first one tries to eat is lichen rather than moss, the second fellow tries to eat algae, and it looks like maybe the guy in the third one has included a pretty good chunk of bark with the moss. The fourth video is totally lame–Colin clearly ate LICHEN even though the editor spliced in a picture of actual moss afterwards. I must admit that that is one lovely stand of lichen on the big rock, even if these bozos didn’t know what it was.

        People do eat “Irish Moss,” but this is a kind of seaweed and not moss at all. And survivalists wring water out of “Reindeer Moss” which is another kind of lichen. Reminds me of one of my favorite bumper stickers: Help Save Our Forests; Pull Euell Gibbons’ Teeth!

        Plainly, we have a huge problem with terminological confusion on YouTube. Here is a good research project for a 12-almost-13-year-old: What is the difference between moss, algae, fungus and lichen?


      • theRaggedys says:

        Andy here. You raise a good question about terminological confusion. We could use you as a docent at Bouverie Preserve (which I have discussed previously in Andy’s Corner).


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