Recipe: Basque Burnt Cheesecake
By Lisa Fielding of Secret Ingredients
Everybody’s got their favorite cheesecake and I would hazard a guess that there are few who don’t like it. Whether it’s the thick and heavy slabs of New York cheesecake or a creamier, lighter version with a pastry crust, it’s one of those comfort desserts that never fails to please the palate. I thought I knew every cheesecake recipe out there as I’ve been making it for decades. My pumpkin version with a praline bottom for the holidays is legendary. My blueberry cheesecake in the summer is not only delicious, it’s beautiful. And there have been endless varieties in between from chocolate espresso to lemon raspberry cream. No matter what kind is on the menu, there are basic ingredients which are part of any cheesecake base — until I made a burnt cheesecake which was a revelation in terms of texture, flavor and presentation.
I had heard about this the Basque recipe in years past. A tapas bar in San Sebastian called La Vina churns them out by the dozens and apparently it is Ruth Reichl’s favorite dessert. I didn’t attempt it because “burnt” and cooking together do not necessarily equate to success in the kitchen. But there are levels of burnt that can taste charcoaly good before turning into acrid bitter.
What I discovered is that this cheesecake embodies the former and is sort of breathtaking in its fulfillment of the promise to deliver something browned and crispy with a creamy sweet filling and no crust. I know this sounds like a mission impossible but it’s not. In fact, the hardest thing about this recipe is to trust that it will turn out exactly as described without monkeying with the recipe or the cooking instructions. So trust me! I attribute the perfection of this recipe to the abundance of heavy cream in the ingredients which allows the cake to be baked on such a high heat. If not for the cream, it would dry out before it cooks to a burnished delight.So here it is. And make sure that if you’re serving it for a party, present it to the table. It’s too pretty not to ogle before eating.
Basque Burnt Cheesecake
Makes 1 cake
2 pounds cream cheese (I used organic)
1¾ cups sugar
7 whole eggs
2 cups heavy whipping cream
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 tbl. real vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Grease a 10” spring-form pan and line with sheets of parchment paper, making sure the paper comes up two inches above the top of the pan.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the cream cheese and sugar, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Pour in the whipping cream and blend until incorporated. Sprinkle flour over the top of the batter and mix on low speed until blended.
Pour batter into the prepared pan and place in the center of the oven. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until the top is deeply golden and the center barely jiggles. Let cool completely before removing the sides of the pan. Gently peel back the parchment.
Serve with raspberry, blueberry or any other fruit sauce for color and contrast.