Benihana Mandarin Orange Cheesecake copycat recipe by Todd Wilbur
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Benihana Mandarin Orange Cheesecake

Score: 5.00. Votes: 7
In stock (1 item available)
  • $0.79

This charismatic cheesecake is a specialty at the world's largest Benihana restaurant located in the Hilton hotel and casino in Las Vegas. Check it out: The lightly orange-flavored, fluffed-up cream cheese sits on layer of soft white cake, the edge is frosted and coated with crunchy hazelnut crumbs, and the top is covered with wedges of mandarin oranges in an orange-flavored gelatin. Every element of this top secret kitchen clone—published here for the first time—is made from scratch, and the finished product is well worth the work you put in. For the cake layer, we whip up just enough of a simple white cake batter to fit into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan. The cheese layer in our clone is created with a special custom combination of gelatin, Dream Whip and cream cheese so that no baking is required to firm it up. You could, of course, use a store-bought white frosting for the edge of the cake, but since you only need a small amount of frosting, the clone recipe here makes it cheaper. The hazelnuts are candied with sugar and reduced to crumbs in a food processor. You can find a 1/2-cup bag of chopped hazelnuts in most supermarkets that is perfect for this. And two 15-ounce cans of mandarin orange wedges is just the right amount for garnishing the top. Just be sure to save 1/2-cup of the liquid from the cans of orange wedges to create the gel that holds the topping in place.

Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 by Todd Wilbur.

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  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 large egg
Cream Cheese Layer
  • 1 envelope unflavored gelatin
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 envelope Dream Whip
  • 1/2 cup low-fat milk
  • 3 8-ounce pkgs. cream cheese, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon orange extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 5 drops yellow food coloring
  • 1 drop red food coloring
  • 2 15-ounce cans mandarin oranges (in light syrup)
  • 1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
Nut Crust
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts (2.25-ounce bag)
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
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    • Instructions

      1. To make cake layer, combine flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. Cream together butter and sugar with an electric mixer in a medium bowl. Add dry ingredients to the butter and mix well. Mix in milk, vanilla and 1 egg. Pour into a well-greased 9-inch springform pan (or line it with parchment paper). Slam the pan down on the counter a few times to even out the batter. Bake in a preheated 350 degree F oven for 15 minutes or until the cake is light brown on top.

      2. For the cream cheese layer, combine the gelatin with 3/4 cup sugar in a medium bowl. Add the boiling water and stir until gelatin is dissolved. Set this aside.

      3. Prepare the Dream Whip by whipping together 1 envelope of Dream Whip and 1/2 cup milk with an electric mixer in another medium bowl. Whip it good until the topping makes stiff peaks.

      4. In another bowl, whip the cream cheese with vanilla, orange extract, lemon juice and food coloring in a large bowl until smooth. Slowly add the gelatin mixture while beating.

      5. Add half (about 1 cup) of the Dream Whip to the cream cheese mixture and beat until smooth. 

      6.  Pour this mixture over the cake layer in the springform pan. Chill for 2 hours or until firm. 

      7. Strain the mandarin orange wedges, and save 1/2 of syrup from the cans. Heat the 1/2 cup of syrup in the microwave on high for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes or until hot. Dissolve 1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin in the warm syrup. Combine the syrup with the orange wedges and pour it over the top of the firmed-up cheesecake that's still in the springform pan. Chill the cake for at least 2 more hours.

      8. For the crunchy nut crust, combine 1 tablespoon of water with 2 tablespoons of sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. When the sugar is dissolved and the liquid begins to boil, add the hazelnuts and stir until nuts are coated. Stir often until the water has cooked off, then continue to stir until the sugar begins to caramelize and turn light brown. Be careful not to burn the nuts. The nuts are done when they are light brown and glazed with candied sugar. Pour the nuts onto a plate and let them cool completely. When the candied nuts are cool, chop them up in a food processor until they are the consistency of crumbs. 

      9. Make the icing by combining shortening with powdered sugar, milk and vanilla.

      10. When the mandarin orange gelatin has firmed up on top of the cake, remove the cake from the springform pan. Use a spatula to spread the icing around the edge of the cake. Press the hazelnut crumbs onto the icing around the edge of the cake (you've got more than enough hazelnut crumbs and much of it will fall off as you press it on the sides). Chill the cake for at least another hour before serving. To serve, cut the cake into 12 slices.

      Makes 12 servings.

Average rating:

Score: 5.00. Votes: 7
Rating of votes (7)
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Jul 4, 2014, 22:00

While this did take a while to make, it wasn't really hard and everyone raved about it. I've already been asked to make it again. The only step I changed was the placement of the orange segments. I coated them with the gelatine mixture in a bowl, but rather than just put the segments on top of the cake, I arranged each one around the cake and then spooned the gelatin over the top of the segments when I was done.

Rebecca Harman
Apr 2, 2013, 22:00

I've made this several times for special occasions and again this Easter. It's my daughter's favorite. Quite delicious!

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