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.
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.
Burnt Basque 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.
What is basque cheesecake? What makes it difference from American cheesecake?
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.
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.
Suggested Cake Pan for Cheesecake
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.
Lining the 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.
- 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.
- This recipe uses standard granulated sugar. I have not tested it using any other sugar or sweetener.
- Heavy cream (also labeled as heavy whipping cream) works best.
- However, whipping cream (which has slightly less fat than heavy cream) also works.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
Use a tart tamper or muddler (photographed above) to press cookie crust into the bottom of prepared cheesecake pan.
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 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.
Pour the smooth cheesecake batter over prepared cookie crust bottom.
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.
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.
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.
What kind of cheesecake texture do you want?
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.
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!
- 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
- 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
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 250 ml (1 cup) heavy cream
- 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.
- Preheat oven to 425°F.
- In a medium bowl, stir together ground vanilla wafer cookie (or ground graham crackers), salt, and melted butter until mixture is well moistened.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- In a small bowl, stir together flour, salt, and about ¼ 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Let cheesecake cool to room temperature before serving. Unmold cheesecake from pan. Enjoy at room temperature or chill overnight.*
- *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.
- 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).
Reader Questions and Reviews
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!
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.
It’s in the oven now, can’t wait for it to cool a bit
Thanks for trying out the recipe! I hope you enjoy the cheesecake! :)
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.
Thanks for trying out the recipe! I hope you enjoyed the end result! :)
Recipe was very salty – more reminiscent of an entree than a dessert. Would recommend 1/8 or 1/4 tsp of salt instead.
It sounds like you may have used table salt instead of kosher salt.
What is the approximate time it will have to bake if I use a 7inch pan?
Check on the cheesecake about 5-7 minutes earlier than directed in the instructions.
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!
Thanks for trying the recipe! I hope you enjoyed it! Waiting for the cheesecake to cool is the hardest part!
If I were to bake this in a 9 inch spring form pan, should I make a 1.5x batch of this recipe?
I have not tested this in a larger pan. I would multiply the recipe by 1.5 or 2.
If I am to add lemon juice and zest to this recipe, how much should they be?
For a cake this size, I would add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice and 1 to 2 teaspoons of finely grated lemon zest.
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 :)
Thank you for sharing this recipe!
Thank you for the article, very informative. I’ve never had Basque cheesecake before, will definitely give it a try.
Not enough sugar for me. Checked the other recipe versions, all of them used 3/4 c sugar instead of 1/2
Sorry to hear it wasn’t sweet enough for you. I like the tartness of the cream cheese to pop through.
I made this last night waiting in my fridge to be cut later. I noticed mine didn’t have the smooth and shiny burnt top? Yours’ look nice and shiny.
How how do I multiply the egg to make 8″ pan?
Will it be better to bake the crust first?
Loved this cheesecake recipe! I tried it for the first time yesterday and it was simply divine. I used 2 6-inch pans that were 2″ tall instead of 3 since I didn’t have a bigger one. I was worried, so made sure my parchment paper was tall. I also scooped out enough batter for 2 muffins, so I could taste it (it was a gift, so wanted to make sure it was okay). I baked both of them for 35 minutes and they were perfect – I like the cheesecake more firm and not runny. Thanks for a great recipe!
Hi. Just wondering if I should turn on the convection fan in my gas oven while baking this? This recipe is so good but my crust always ends up a bit burnt on the bottom and too crunchy. I also have a hard time getting the top brown/burnt.
Hi, thanks for trying the recipe! No, I don’t recommend turning on the convection fan. It will make the temperature too hot. If your oven tends to run hotter on the bottom, try baking the cheesecake in a higher rack, instead of the center rack.
Hi. If i use a gas oven that only has bottom heat, how can i achieve the evenness of the color of the top part of the cheesecake?
Very creamy and delicious. Next time I may add some lemon or orange zest. East to adjust amounts based on the size pan (I had an 8”).
This came out amazing! I used monk fruit sweetener vs sugar, and whole wheat flour. Turned out great. Creamy, dense, and perfect level of sweetness, without the extra calories :)
That’s wonderful to hear! Thank you for sharing your results! Great idea using monk fruit sweetener.
can i make the matcha version? if yes, how much matcha powder should i add?
Can I use a kitchenaid mixer to mix everything together?!
You can, but the resulting texture will not be as smooth and creamy.
Hi, I would like to make a version with strawberries but i’m a bit worried that the mix will be too runny, what do you think will be the best way to avoid this? i was thinking to use a bit more flour? Kaz
Adding fresh strawberries in the batter will alter the texture. I suggest using freeze-dried strawberries ground into a powder to add flavor and color to the cheesecake.
Loooove this recipe!! Tried to cut into it after 90 min and the center ran out of the cake
I prefer crispy crust but turn out its not crispy after baking. pls guide me how to get crispy crust as I use digestive biscuits with melted butter.
You can pre-bake the crust to set it before adding the cheesecake batter.
Love the recipe and you have explained everything beautifully. This is such a simple cheesescake, and perfect size for two people.
Hi, can you pls advise whether the 425f is convection (with Fan) or 425f(only top + bottom Heat)?
It’s based on conventional oven (top/bottom heat).
Absolutely perfect recipe for an incredibly delicious basque cheesecake, just made it this weekend and it turned out perfect!
I love this recipe, thank you.