Sumo Tangerine Cheesecake

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Sumo Tangerine Cheesecake by A Communal Table #gluten free, #vegetarian dessertSumo what??? Yes, you read that right – Sumo tangerines!!!  So what exactly is a Sumo tangerine? Well, it  is one of the newest varieties of tangerines to hit the market.. and I was lucky enough to get an “up close and personal” introduction to them on my citrus tour with Melissa’s Produce!


We started off our tour with a brief introduction.  The Sumo tangerine (also know as dekopon) is a cross between an orange and a mandarin. It was developed in the 1970′ s by a Japanese citrus grower and took many years of   trial and error to perfect – and is now one of the most prized fruits in Japan and Korea.  A few years ago, some  of the citrus growers in the Central Valley of California decided to take a chance and try growing them. It required patience and dedication since Sumo’s need completely different growing, pruning and thinning techniques than those used with other citrus … not to mention that Sumo’s must be harvested by hand.




I don’t think Napa Valley has anything on this gorgeous Sumo tangerine orchard!

So why the name Sumo? Well, these are perhaps the biggest tangerines you’ve ever seen – in fact some of them are larger than a navel orange! Like a navel, they are seedless and because of the cute little top kno , they are incredibly easy to peel! “Some” people have referred to them as “cosmetically challenged” – but I disagree… I think they are  absolutely adorable! But enough about that… let’s get on to the important stuff – how do they taste?


In a word, delicious! They  have a wonderful honey sweetness with just a hint of tartness at the end – and despite being incredibly juicy they aren’t messy (if you know what I mean). The only downside is that their popularity isn’t limited to Japan and Korea – which means, you guessed it, you have to act fast if you want some! You can find them in some specialty grocers and, since Melissa’s Produce is the exclusive foodservice distributor, you may also find them at your local sporting stadium… and  get this…they were  even served at the Grammys !

Although Sumo’s are delicious all on their own, I simply couldn’t resist cooking with them. On the way home from the tour, my mind spun with all the possibilities!! Although these Sumo’s would be a terrific Valentine’s Day treat  all on their own , I just couldn’t resist making a sweet little dessert!!

These little “cheesecakes” are really a  perfect midweek dessert and are terrific for entertaining.  Since they are crustless, they are a snap to put together – you just whomp everything together in the food processor, pour the batter into ramekins and pop them into the oven! A little lighter than a traditional cheesecake – which is good so nothing detracts from the  incredible punch of tangerine flavor you get in every bite! I garnished these cheesecakes  with some fresh Sumo tangerine slices and drizzled  them with a little honey – but you could also add a little freshly whipped cream if you are so inclined!

Sumo Tangerine Cheesecake
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Adapted from Bon Appetit magazine.
Serves: 6 servings
  • ⅔ cup sugar
  • zest from 2 Sumo tangerines
  • 1 cup Sumo tangerine juice
  • 2 - 8 oz. pckgs. cream cheese
  • 1 cup ricotta
  • 2 tsp. Cointreau (optional)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 Sumo oranges, supremed
  • 2 Tbsp. orange blossom honey
  1. Pre heat the oven to 425 degrees. Combine the sugar and the tangerine zest in a small bowl. Mix together until the sugar is moist and the zest is evenly distributed. Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor combine the ricotta and cream cheese. Mix until thoroughly combined. Add the sugar, tangerine juice and cointreau. Mix. Add the eggs and mix until the mixture is smooth and all the ingredients are combined.
  3. Grease 6 - ½ cup ramekins. Divide the batter evenly between the ramekins, filling them ¾ full. Place ramekins on a sheet pan and bake for 16 - 18 minutes or until the cheesecakes are lightly browned and just set. Remove cheesecakes from the oven and let cool. Garnish with the tangerine sections and honey.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: ½ cup



    • says

      Hi Lana!! I know, I’ve kinda gone off the deep end here with the citrus but it is all SO good I really can’t help myself! Just an FYI you can always check with Meissa’s to see who is carrying them in your area – right now the distribution is limited due to the supply but I think over the next few years that will change. They are so good and so easy to eat I think the growers will expand their groves which means… more tangerines for you and me!!

  1. John Galt says

    Nancy. Whole Foods have been carrying these the last couple of years and I can’t buy enough. They are the best. I look forward to the next season as soon as they run out.

    • says

      They really are amazing! When we were at the ranch one of the growers picked on off the tree, peeled it and said… “ah, this is about a 7” – I took a bite and thought, “if this is a 7 a 10 has gotta be off the charts”.. and oh, my it was!!!

  2. says

    The fact that this cheesecake is in-season gives me even more of a reason to make it! I’ve never had a citrusy cheesecake and it sounds superb! Those sumo tangerines look juicy and delicious!

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