Basque Cheesecake

This is not an authentic Basque cheesecake. It is my interpretation of a burnt Basque-style cheesecake with the addition of a vanilla cookie crust bottom. 

Basque Style Cheesecake

I was first introduced to Basque cuisine in culinary school with Basque cake.

The Basque region is situated between the border of France and Spain. The area is home to a mixture of different influences, cuisines, traditions, and peoples.

From then, my curiosity in the Basque region continued to flourish after watching Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown episode highlighting San Sebastian, Spain.  

My interest piqued when I saw Basque cheesecake grace the cover of Bon Appétit magazine back in January 2019. 

Basque Cheesecake Variation

What is basque cheesecake? What makes it difference from American cheesecake?

Basque cheesecake is a relatively new dish. It is said to have originated in 1990 in San Sebastian, Spain.

The original recipe has a handful of ingredients: cream cheese, cream, sugar, eggs, and flour.

Basque cheesecake is often called “burnt” cheesecake due to its iconic rich dark surface. 

Unlike American cheesecake, Basque cheesecake does not have a crust.

American cheesecake is baked low and slow in a waterbath. Basque cheesecake, on the other hand, is baked high and fast.

This high temperature forms a caramelized exterior that serves as a natural crust for the cheesecake. 

Basque Cheesecake variation

Not A Traditional Basque Cheesecake

This is my adapted version. It takes elements of the burnt cheesecake and mixes it with my favorite part of American cheesecake- the crust! 

If you would like to try a more authentic version, simply omit the crust part of the recipe. 

What does this basque style cheesecake taste like?

To put it simply, it tastes like a caramelized cheesecake.

The creamy filling has your standard vanilla flavor. Meanwhile, the exterior parts (top and edges) are dark and rich with warm notes of molasses and caramel.

The vanilla wafer cookie crust plays on those caramelized flavors. The cooked butter in the curst brings out browned butter notes, making the crust taste like a hazelnut cookie.  

6-inch round cake pan with removable bottom

Suggested Cake Pan

I’m using this three inch deep 6-inch round cake pan with removable bottom. The recipe works best in a deep pan. Standard cake pans are 2-inches deep.

The baked cheesecake will rise above the cake pan rim. As such, it is important to use a cake pan at least 3-inches deep. 

If you would like to use a larger pan (say 8-inch or 9-inch round), this recipe will create a short and shallow cheesecake. It will not produce the same rich and luscious cheesecake.

I suggest multiplying the recipe by 1.5 to accommodate for a 3-inch deep 8-inch round pan.

Basque Cheesecake baking tin

Lining the cheesecake pan

Line the entire cake pan with parchment paper. Use two sheets of parchment paper to ensure the batter does not touch the pan.

Use a parchment paper lining even if you use a non-stick cake pan.

Allow two to three inches of parchment paper to extend past the cake pan rim. The baked cheesecake will puff up and extend past the rim.

Basque Cheesecake Ingredients

Ingredients Overview

Cream Cheese

Use full-fat block cream cheese. Do not use whipped cream cheese or reduced fat cream cheese. It will not produce the same results.

Let cream cheese sit at room temperature to soften for at least 30 minutes before mixing. This will allow the ingredients to mix together evenly. 

Sugar

This recipe uses standard granulated sugar. I have not tested it using any other sugar or sweetener.

Heavy Cream

Heavy cream (also labeled as heavy whipping cream) works best. However, whipping cream (which has slightly less fat than heavy cream) also works. 

Eggs

Recipe calls for three large eggs. Large eggs are roughly 2 oz each.

Should you choose to use a different sized egg: extra large eggs are about 2.25 oz each and medium eggs are 1.75 oz each. Adjust recipe accordingly.

Flour

I used standard all-purpose flour. You may also use cake flour, or half all-purpose flour half cake flour. 

The small amount of flour acts as a binder, helping to emulsify the ingredients together.  

Vanilla & Salt

Pure vanilla extract and kosher salt are added for additional flavor.

Asides from vanilla, you may also add a touch of lemon juice or lemon zest or orange zest for a pop of brightness. 

Basque Cheesecake with cookie crust bottom

Vanilla Cookie Crust Bottom

The optional crust is made by combining ground vanilla wafer cookies (such as Nilla wafers) with melted unsalted butter and salt. 

You could use graham cracker, but I highly recommend vanilla wafer cookies.

Basque Cheesecake Crust

Use a tart tamper or muddler (photographed above) to press cookie crust into the bottom of prepared cheesecake pan.

Basque Cheesecake with cookie crust

The cookie crust makes enough to line the bottom of the pan. There will not be enough crust to line the sides of the pan.

Use Food Processor for Cheesecake

Use Food Processor to Mix Cheesecake Filling

Easily mix together the cheesecake ingredients in a food processor machine. Alternatively, you may use a stand mixer or simply whip the ingredients together by hand. 

Using a blade attachment, process softened cheesecake until smooth. Scrape down sides of bowl as needed. 

Add sugar and process until incorporated. Next, add eggs one a a time. 

In a separate bowl, stir together flour, salt, and about 1/4 cup of cream until a paste forms. Slowly incorporate remaining cream, a little at a time, until mixture is smooth.

Transfer smooth flour-cream mixture into food processor. Run processor for about 30 seconds until mixture is incorporated.

Basque Cheesecake

Pour the smooth cheesecake batter over prepared cookie crust bottom. 

Basque Cheesecake

The filling will rise nearly to the top of the cake rim. As such, it is important to use a 3-inch deep cake pan! Otherwise, the batter will flow over. 

Basque Cheesecake

The cheesecake will rise and puff in the oven. It will extend over the cake pan rim.

The excess parchment paper overhang will prevent the cheesecake batter from spilling over. 

Basque Cheesecake variation

Traditional American cheesecake is baked low and slow, usually requiring at least an hour to bake.

This Basque-style cheesecake is finished baking in half the time. Remove from oven when the top is rich dark brown, yet the center of the cheesecake is still jiggly. 

Basque Cheesecake with vanilla wafer cookie crust bottom

What kind of cheesecake texture are you interested in?

Soft Silky Custard

Immediately out the oven, the cheesecake will be jiggly and difficult to slice. Let the hot cheesecake cool at room temperature for about 60-90 minutes to allow cheesecake to set up.

Slice using a sharp warmed up knife.  

At this stage, the cheesecake will still be slightly warm. However, it’s texture will be unlike any other cheesecake you’ve had.

It’s like a cross between flan and fluffy Japanese cheesecake

Dense, Firm, and Creamy

Allow the cheesecake to cool at room temperature. Then, store in the fridge until cold.

The cheesecake filling will firm up to create a creamy yet firm texture.

Basque Cheesecake Slice

How to serve basque cheesecake?

According to Tasting Table, you should serve this cheesecake with a glass of Pedro Ximénez sherry. My liquor cabinet is a little empty these days, but I’ll have to stock on some next time! 

Basque Cheesecake

Basque Cheesecake

This is not an authentic Basque cheesecake. It is my interpretation of a burnt Basque-style cheesecake with the addition of a vanilla cookie crust bottom. 

Yield: 6-inch

Servings 8 slices
Author Maryanne Cabrera

Ingredients

Crust:

  • 130 grams (about 1 ¼ cup) ground vanilla wafer cookies, or ground graham crackers
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt
  • 85 grams (6 Tbsp) melted unsalted butter

Cheesecake:

  • 454 grams (16 oz) cream cheese room temp
  • 100 grams (½ cup) granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs room temp
  • 1 ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 16 grams (2 Tbsp) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 250 ml (1 cup) heavy cream

Instructions

  1. Line 3-inch deep 6-inch round cake pan with removable bottom with 2 layers of parchment paper, allowing paper to extend about 2-inches above cake pan rim. Set aside.

  2. Preheat oven to 425°F.

Crust:

  1. In a medium bowl, stir together ground vanilla wafer cookie (or ground graham crackers), salt, and melted butter until mixture is well moistened.

  2. Transfer to prepared cake pan. Press into an even layer into the bottom of the pan. Use a tamper or flat bottom of a drinking glass (or measuring cup) to compact and smooth out the crust. Set aside while you prepare filling.

Filling:

  1. Place cream cheese and sugar in a food processor fitted with blade attachment. Process until mixture is smooth. Scrape down sides of bowl as needed.

  2. Add in vanilla. With the processor running, add eggs one at a time, ensuring each egg is incorporated before adding the next. Stop processor. Scrape down sides of bowl.

  3. In a small bowl, stir together flour, salt, and about 1/4 cup of cream until paste forms. Slowly add remaining cream, a little at a time, until mixture is smooth and there are no lumps of flour.

  4. Transfer flour mixture to food processor. Add any remaining cream to food processor bowl. Run food processor for another 30 seconds until mixture is smooth and well incorporated.

  5. Pour mixture into prepared cake pan on top of crust. Use a mini offset spatula or the back of a spoon to spread filling into an even layer.

  6. Place filled cake pan on a baking sheet to catch any spills during baking. Place in center of preheated oven. Bake for 35-40 minutes until top is browned yet center is stilly jiggly. Remove from oven and cool in pan.

  7. Let cheesecake cool to room temperature before serving. Unmold cheesecake from pan. Enjoy at room temperature or chill overnight.*

Recipe Notes

  • *See blog post regarding desired cheesecake texture- either soft silky custard or firm creamy.
  • Reduce salt amount by half if using table salt.
  • Store leftover cheesecake in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Alternatively, tightly cover with plastic wrap. 

Equipment Notes:

  • I used this 3-inch deep 6-inch round cake pan with removable bottom
  • I recommend this muddler. It can be used to tamp tart shells and pie crusts, as well as muddle herbs and fruits for drinks. 
  • I use an older model of this 14-cup food processor
  • *These product links are affiliate links. This means I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases (at no extra charge to you).

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit and Buttermilk Pantry

 

 

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Comments

ven

hi! can this work in a regular cake pan? i have 6 x 3 pans but not with removable bottoms. I would love to try this!

    Maryanne Cabrera

    It can work in a regular 3-inch deep 6-inch round cake pan. However, it may be a little difficult to unmold without the removable bottom.

Alison Moski

It’s in the oven now, can’t wait for it to cool a bit

    Maryanne Cabrera

    Thanks for trying out the recipe! I hope you enjoy the cheesecake! :)

Yvony Gruezo

This is now sitting on my kitchen counter cooling, and it’s making me realize just how impatient I am. HAHA! I got a little ahead of myself when making the flour salt paste and ended up pouring a whole cup of cream into the mixture instead of the quarter cup. I’m hoping it doesn’t affect it too much. Crossing fingers. Looking forward to trying it.

    Maryanne Cabrera

    Thanks for trying out the recipe! I hope you enjoyed the end result! :)

    Ethan

    Recipe was very salty – more reminiscent of an entree than a dessert. Would recommend 1/8 or 1/4 tsp of salt instead.

    Maryanne Cabrera

    It sounds like you may have used table salt instead of kosher salt.

Chloe

What is the approximate time it will have to bake if I use a 7inch pan?

    Maryanne Cabrera

    Check on the cheesecake about 5-7 minutes earlier than directed in the instructions.

YJ

I followed the instructions to a T (in the exact pan) and it’s been cooling at room temperature for 3 hours now…I tried to cut it and the center is still so jelly-like it felt apart. It’s in the fridge now hoping that it’ll firm up so I can try it!

    Maryanne Cabrera

    Thanks for trying the recipe! I hope you enjoyed it! Waiting for the cheesecake to cool is the hardest part!

Emily

If I were to bake this in a 9 inch spring form pan, should I make a 1.5x batch of this recipe?

    Maryanne Cabrera

    I have not tested this in a larger pan. I would multiply the recipe by 1.5 or 2.

Regina b

If I am to add lemon juice and zest to this recipe, how much should they be?

    Maryanne Cabrera

    For a cake this size, I would add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice and 1 to 2 teaspoons of finely grated lemon zest.

Emma

Really amazing recipe, this crusted version has a great twist.
Best eaten the day after, let it sit out of the fridge for a while for an incredible texture.
Thank you so much, this is going straight in my recipes book :)

Jean

Thank you for sharing this recipe!

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