This Creamy Burnt Basque Cheesecake recipe is one of the easiest & tastiest cheesecakes you will ever make! This unique cheesecake is intentionally "burnt" or bruléed on top to form a deep, rich, dark caramelized crust. The best part is that it requires NO crust and NO water bath so it saves you several extra steps!
WHAT IS BURNT BASQUE CHEESECAKE?
Basque cheesecake is an ultra creamy crustless cheesecake (torta de queso) that originates from the Basque region of Spain, specifically Donostia-San Sebastian. It has been made very popular by the restaurant called La Viña in Old Town San Sebastian, and it defies all traditional rules of cheesecake because you bake it in a very hot oven to intentionally cause it to soufflé (puff up) and burn on the surface.
I was lucky enough to visit San Sebastian twice and I have had the pleasure to try this coveted cheesecake at La Viña restaurant and I can certainly say that my Creamy Burnt Basque Cheesecake recipe does it justice! Their cheesecake has an almost gooey custard-like center that is challenging to slice neatly, so I tweaked this recipe for a more cohesive texture. Its defining features are a burnt top and a delicate creamy interior that melts in your mouth. If you prefer the gooey custardy version, see my tips below in the FAQ section.
HOW IS THIS BURNT BASQUE CHEESECAKE RECIPE DIFFERENT?
- More cream and egg vs. cream cheese. This cheesecake is different than the classic American cheesecake because it contains a higher ratio of eggs to cream cheese, and it contains a lot of cream. It is a much thinner, wetter batter compared to the dense American-style cheesecake.
- Bake at a very high temperature. this cheesecake is baked at a very high temperature (450 degrees F) compared to American cheesecakes that are baked slowly at a lower temperature between 300 and 325 degrees F. As a result, it takes on a lovely deeply browned top and soft creamy center. The pleasant bitterness of the burnt top complements the sweet richness of the custardy center in the most wonderful way.
- NO water bath! Since the goal is to encourage browning, this cake is baked in a dry oven and there's no need for a water bath!
- NO crust! That's right -- this recipe doesn't require a crust! It's a crustless cheesecake.
WHY YOU WILL LOVE THIS RECIPE
- Easy to make - this cheesecake is simple to prepare with only a few ingredients. There's also no fancy tricks required to make it smooth and it's impossible to actually burn this cheesecake!
- No water bath - this cheesecake stays nice and smooth without even without using a water bath. That's because there is much more liquid in this type of cheesecake compared to dense American-style cheesecakes.
- Smooth and creamy cheesecake - the filling is super creamy and silky. It is not too heavy or dense.
- Cracks are acceptable - cracks are part of the recipe! But really, it doesn't actually crack at the surface - just around the very edges where it deflates.
- Cream cheese - you will need just 2 blocks of brick cream cheese for this recipe. Do not use the whipped or spreadable kind as it can have a higher water content and thus a lower fat content. This is nearly half as much as American-style New York Cheesecake.
- Granulated sugar - simple fine white granulated sugar keeps the flavor clean so the vanilla shines.
- Vanilla - vanilla is the main flavor aside from the tangy sweet cheese taste, so use high quality vanilla. I prefer this Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla extract.
- Eggs - three whole eggs will set the filling into a silky smooth custard. After all, cheesecake is essentially a baked cheese custard! Basque cheesecake has a higher ratio of eggs compared to American cheesecake.
- Cream - a whole cup of cream goes into this batter and that's one of the things that differentiates it. The added moisture from cream means that the cheesecake will not dry out and can withstand the very high baking temperature.
- Flour - just a bit of flour helps to bind the moisture from the cream and set the custard into a smooth texture.
STEP BY STEP INSTRUCTIONS
I prefer to use an electric hand mixer, but you can also use a stand mixer with the whip attachment. First step is to make sure you have softened cream cheese and place it in the bowl.
- STEP 1). Mix the cheese and sugar. Beat the cream cheese with salt until smooth. Then add the sugar and beat for about 2 minutes until very smooth and creamy. Make sure you scrape down the sides of the bowl often to ensure you get a homogeneous mixture.
- STEP 2). Mix in eggs. Beat in the eggs one at a time until thoroughly combined. Scrape down the bowl between each addition.
- STEP 3). Mix in vanilla. Mix in the vanilla extract and lemon juices.
- STEP 4). Mix in cream with flour. Combine half of the cream with flour and 1 teaspoon of sugar so it is a smooth mixture then mix this into the batter. Continue to mix in the remaining cream.
- STEP 5). Bake. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake until puffed, deeply dark brown on the surface and stilly quite jiggly in the middle.
- STEP 6). Cool. Transfer pan to a wire rack and let cool completely at room temperature. It will fall as it cools.
- STEP 7). Chill. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours and then slice it up and serve it!
EXPERT BAKING TIPS
- Crumple the parchment to line the pan. If you crumple it up first, it will be more pliable and easier to shape into the pan. The other way is to make pleats with the parchment up the sides so it holds flat along the base and straight up along the sides.
- Do not over-bake. This cheesecake will still be wobbly and jiggly in the middle when it is ready. It will continue to cook as it cools and it will set into a smooth creamy texture. If it is too firm then it has been over-baked and it will have a coarse texture.
- Use the broiler if it is not dark enough on top instead of baking longer in order to prevent over-cooking it. If the surface isn't as dark as you'd like after 25 minutes, turn on the broiler for just 30 seconds to 1 minute. Don't take your eyes off it or it will ACTUALLY burn.
What pan should I use to make burnt basque cheesecake?
Since every recipe for Basque Cheesecake requires two layers of overlapping parchment, you don't really need to have a springform pan with removable sides. You can actually bake this in a high-sided round cake pan and then lift it out of the pan using the parchment as a handle once it's cooled!
How do I prepare the pan to make burnt basque cheesecake?
Firstly, there’s no crust so we don’t have to pre-bake or prepare for that first step. WIN! Instead, you layer the pan with two pieces of overlapping parchment paper so the sides come up above the top of the pan. You want to make sure the paper reaches about 2 inches above the pan since this cheesecake puffs up quite a bit as it bakes.
Just casually fold the parchment to fit into the round shape of the pan along the sides and press any wrinkles flat. It doesn’t have to be perfect. This cheesecake looks better the more rustic it is!
How do I make Basque Cheesecake that is very soft in the middle?
The key to making sure this cheesecake is creamy and soft like the original version from La Vina restaurant in Spain is to bake at a high temperature for a short time. Make sure you do not over-bake it. If it is still not dark enough on the surface after 25 minutes, then turn on the broiler and watch carefully for 30-60 seconds just to caramelize the top rather than baking longer.
How should I serve Burnt Basque cheesecake?
Basque Cheesecake is best served at room temperature. Let it cool completely in the pan, then slice with a hot dry knife. If you prefer a slightly firmer texture, let it chill in the fridge overnight. It’s really up to you depending on how you like it! I love it all on its own, but you can top it with fruit, whipped cream, caramel sauce or chocolate sauce.
Do I need to chill cheesecake after it bakes?
Yes it is important to let the cheesecake chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours before serving. This cooling time will allow the custard to set completely for the silkiest, smoothest, creamiest texture.
What do I serve with Burnt Basque Cheesecake?
This cheesecake is lovely served just as it is with this wonderful topping, but if you want to jazz it up even more, you can add some whipped cream and dark chocolate shavings or fresh berries. Or, serve it with a dollop of my Small Batch Creamy Lemon Curd.
If you love cheesecake, check out these recipes!New York Style CheesecakeTriple Chocolate CheesecakeCheesecake BrowniesPeanut Butter Fudge Swirl Brownie Bottom CheesecakeCreamy Raspberry CheesecakePerfect Vanilla Cheesecake (no Water Bath!)Bakery Style Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter CookiesHealthy Homemade Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter CupsBuckeye Peanut Butter Fudge Brownies
Looking for more cheesecake recipes? Try these:
Wanting more ideas to bake with cream cheese?
Creamy Burnt Basque Cheesecake
- 2 x 250g blocks (500g) cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- ¾ cup plus 1 tsp 155g granulated sugar divided
- 3 large eggs at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon 15ml lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon 5ml pure vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 ¼ cups 300ml 35% whipping cream
- 2 tablespoon 18g all-purpose flour sifted
- Preheat the oven to 450°F. Line an 8-inch round springform pan with 2 overlapping 16x12-inch sheets of parchment, making sure parchment comes at least 2" above top of pan on all sides. Lay the second piece at a 90° angle to the first piece to make sure there are no sides of the pan uncovered. Because the parchment needs to be pleated and creased in some areas to fit in pan, you won’t end up with a clean, smooth outer edge to the cake, and that’s okay!
- Add cream cheese to a large bowl and beat with an electric hand mixer on medium-high speed until very smooth. Gradually add in ¾ cup of sugar and continue mixing until very well combined and sugar is dissolved and there are no lumps. Scrape down the bowl at least 2 times during this process. The more you mix at this stage, the smoother the batter will be. You can also do this using a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment on medium speed, scraping down sides of bowl frequently.
- Beat in eggs one at a time, mixing well before adding the next. Scrape down sides of bowl between each addition. Beat in lemon juice, vanilla and salt.
- In a small bowl, whisk together flour, 1 teaspoon of sugar and half of the cream until smooth and lump-free. Add it to the batter and mix well. Gradually beat in remaining cream until combined and the batter is smooth and silky.
- Pour batter through a sieve (to remove any lumps) and into prepared pan and bake for 22-26 minutes until deeply dark brown on top and still very jiggly in the center. Transfer pan to a cooling rack and let cool completely in the pan (it will fall drastically as it cools). Refrigerate for at least hours or overnight.
- Carefully peel away parchment from sides of cheesecake. Slice into wedges and serve at room temperature, preferably with a glass of sherry alongside.