No, this isn’t a NY Cheesecake that you forgot to take out of the oven. Basque Burnt Cheesecake is meant to have that near black top! While quite popular all over the world, not many people know that it originated at a restaurant called La Viña in San Sebastian, Spain. I will say right now that this amazing Spanish recipe is as close to the original authentic one as I can make it, so put that Philadelphia Cream Cheese away, it doesn’t belong here.
The original recipe calls for home style sheep’s cheese. The best way to re-create that at home? Ricotta! Now, if you can find a Spanish home style sheep cheese then go for it, but an Italian ricotta is a fine substitute, and way more accessible (for most people).
Basque Burnt Cheesecake Ingredients
Believe it or not, this recipe in my opinion is even easier than a regular NY cheesecake. I’m using two different types of Ricotta here, one firm and one medium-firm. If you want to just use one type then go strictly for firm ricotta.
- 500 grams Ricotta Cheese; firm, or a blend of firm and medium-firm.
- 130 ml Heavy Cream; aka whipping cream or double cream.
- 150 grams Sugar; white granulated works just fine here.
- 6 large Eggs
- 30 ml Butter; melted
- 1/2 tbsp Lemon Juice, freshly squeezed
- 1 tsp Salt
How To Make An Authentic Basque Burnt Cheesecake
Like I said, this recipe is super easy. In a large bowl just whisk together the ricotta with the cream and sugar. Once it is smooth (no lumps) add in the 6 beaten eggs. Whisk everything while trickling in the melted butter, and finally add the lemon juice and salt. How easy is that!
Line a springform cake pan with some parchment paper. This batter is very runny so make sure the vessel is properly sealed. The paper will help for easy removal after baking.
Place some foil around the bottom rim of the pan and place in a roasting dish (or any baking tray with walls). Add about a cm of water. This ‘should’ help prevent cracks from forming on top of the cake as it bakes. Simply place in a convection oven preheated to 180 Celsius and bake.
Notice how I didn’t give a baking time? Well that’s kind of normal for this dish. You see, the cake is finished when you can stick in a knife, pull it out, and it is clean. However, based on the picture above after 45 minutes of baking time, the cake doesn’t look like a proper Basque burnt cheesecake.
I put the cheesecake back into the oven for another 20 minutes to get that color we all expect. You’ll see a crack, unfortunately the water evaporated sometime in the baking process and I didn’t notice in time to refill it. Watch your oven and add more water if needed.
Let the cake sit out at room temperature for a couple hours. The top will deflate a bit into the cake and finish solidifying. When you first pull the Basque burnt cheesecake out of the oven you will notice it jiggles like jelly. This is perfectly okay, it just needs some time to firm up outside the oven.
Is Basque Burnt Cheesecake Supposed To Be Black?
While nowadays the cheesecakes have an even black top, the original from La Viña do not. In fact, they look more like my picture from the 45 minute mark. Getting the top as black as possible without actually burning the cheesecake is more of a recent trend.
The level of blackness for your cheesecake is entirely up to you. I like black as a showpiece and for the taste of the crust, but the cake honestly tastes great either way.
What Does Authentic Basque Burnt Cheesecake Taste Like?
This cake is much lighter, yet more rich tasting, than a normal American cheesecake. Due to the amount of eggs, the consistency and taste of a Basque burnt cheesecake is quite similar to a custard. I find that makes this cake a great holiday cake because it tastes a little fancier than standard cheesecakes, and isn’t that the goal during the holidays…to impress your guests.
Authentic Basque Burnt Cheesecake
- Spring Form Cake Pan
- Mixing Bowl
- 500 grams Ricotta or other home style sheep's milk cheese
- 6 large Eggs
- 130 ml Heavy Cream aka whipping cream or double cream
- 150 grams Sugar granulated
- 30 ml Butter melted
- 1/2 tbsp Lemon Juice freshly squeezed
- 1 tsp Salt
- In a large mixing bowl whisk together the ricotta, cream, and sugar. In a small bowl beat the eggs with the melted butter. Slowly trickle the egg mix into the cheese mix while whisking. Finally add the lemon juice and salt and whisk to combine.
- Like a spring form cake pan with parchment paper on the bottom and sides for easy removal. Wrap the bottom edges with foil. Pour the cheesecake mixture into the pan and set on the middle of a walled roasting dish or sheet pan. Pour in a centimeter of water into the pan.
- Place the tray into a convection oven preheated to 180 Celsius. The cake will be finished in about 45 minutes, but to get that beautiful burnt color you'll want to leave it in for another 20 minutes. Make sure to check the oven every so often and replace the evaporated water with more, to prevent the top from cracking.