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Japanese “Lava Tarts” Might Melt Your Heart


Cheesecake is one of the ultimate indulgences (and one of my favorite desserts), usually combining the heavy smoothness of soft cheeses and the sweet taste of fruits or sugary confections. If you’re a fan of the cheesy dessert but find the sweetness overbearing, then this news from Japan might excite you.

Pablo, a shop located in the Shibuya district of Tokyo, makes hot cheese tarts that can be cooked to different levels just like steak. Masamitsu Sakimoto’s inventiveness with his pastries follows the culinary principal of odorokashi. “Odorokashi represents the idea that just having delicious products is not enough; there must be an element of surprise in the textures and appearances of products to create interest,” he told the Philippine Daily Inqiurer. By baking the cheese tarts on a spectrum of finishes like steak, the Pablo tarts achieve a range of different textures. Sakimoto’s originality proved successful, as the shop recently opened its first storefront in Manila, Philippines, the first expansion outside of Japan.

Sakimoto’s Pablo cheese tarts are a unique take on the larger trend of “lava tarts”, a hot dish that lands somewhere between a traditional savory cheese tart and a cheesecake. This style of tart’s signature melty texture comes from a mixture of soft cheeses. While no shop has officially released their recipe, many online bakers have created their own versions.

The tarts usually consist of cream cheese and marscapone, mixed with egg, cream, and sugar to achieve a custardy texture. According to BAKE, a popular “lava tart” shop, cream cheeses from Hakodate (a large city on Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost prefecture) have a mild flavor which balances out other cheeses used in the tart. You can use a variety of other cheeses to produce more tart, salty, or sweet flavors, depending on the desired result.

While it doesn’t look like the brand is expanding to the US anytime soon (they’re just starting to spread to Hong Kong and Malaysia), there are many home recipes online—and you can substitute your favorite cheese for a unique twist!

Feature Photo Credit: Norio Nakayama | cc

Casey Walker

​Casey Walker is a Boston-based writer, constantly scoping out new recipes and restaurants.