From the Northern Spanish foodie destination of San Sebastian, the Basque cheesecake is one of the few dishes you are encouraged to burn. You may have seen this ‘burnt cheesecake’ trending on social media of late as foodies come up with their own takes on the Spanish dessert.
Invented a few decades ago by Santiago Rivera, owner of San Sebastian pintxos cafe La Vina, the Basque cheesecake has quickly become one of the most popular cheesecakes around. Looking rather like a scorched Portuguese tart, the cheesecake isn’t the prettiest of desserts, but it sure is one the tastiest.
Forgoing the traditional biscuit base, the cheesecake has a smooth and creamy interior that is perfectly balanced by the film and caramelised exterior, resulting in a rich, velvety and toffee-like flavour.
Individual Basque Cheesecakes with Cumquat and Bay Leaf Syrup Recipe
375g cream cheese, chopped and softened
½ cup (110g) caster sugar
3 eggs, room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp finely grated lemon rind
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp plain flour
300ml double thick cream
6 clementines, scrubbed
¾ cup (165g) caster sugar
1 small sprig fresh bay leaves
Preheat oven to 240°C (220°C fan forced). Line four x 10cm springform cake tins with sheets of non-stick baking paper, leaving a 4cm overhang.
Place the cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of an electric stand mixer with a beater attachment and beat for 6 minutes, or until the sugar has dissolved. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Mix the vanilla, lemon rind and juice and flour together and add to the cream cheese mixture until just combined.
With the beater on low, pour in the cream and mix until combined. Pour into the tins and place on a baking tray. Bake for 25 minutes, until the top is very dark, with a slight wobble in the center. Remove from the oven, set aside to cool at room temperature, before refrigerating until cold.
Meanwhile, to make the clementines in syrup, place the clementines in a small saucepan of cold water, bring to a simmer and strain. Repeat this process twice more. Return the clementines to the saucepan, add sugar and 1 cup water. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low and cook for 15 minutes, or until syrupy, and the rind of the clementines is tender. Add the bay leaves and set aside, to infuse. Cut the clementines into quarters and return to the syrup.
Serve the cheesecakes topped with clementines and syrup.