What is it?Burnt Basque Cheescake

Aside from now being international tik-tok phenomenon (as explained in the link below) the Burnt Basque Cheesecake has been getting popular in Spain by traditional word-of-mouth since its invention in the 1990s. Chef Santiago Rivera originally created it for La Viña de la Parte Vieja restaurant in San Sebastian, and has since had to build a bakery solely for satisfying local demand. There are no frills at all to this cheesecake and it’s just what it says it is: a cake of cheese.

The Basque Cheesecake taking Turkey by Storm

I can remember tasting what must have been Burnt Basque Cheesecake as a teenager on holiday in Almeria and not understanding what it was or why other cheesecakes eaten since never quite matched up. Now I know, and now we make it for customers of The Spanish Place and wedding and party clients of Idelica in 2024 and it’s going down very well indeed.

How is it made?

A good Burnt Basque Cheesecake is dependent on the handling of the march of time and changes in temperature on a mix of six simple ingredients: Eggs, Cheese, Cream, Sugar, Cornflour and Salt. It’s baked for about an hour at a high temperature to achieve the right amount of ‘Burnt’ and the right level of wobble, then needs to be left at least 12 hours before slicing. (Allergen alert: contains milk, eggs)

What does it taste like?

This dessert needs no crumbly base or sweet accompaniments to be enjoyed fully. The bake and set is where the definitive combination of a tang of sourness from fresh creamy cheeseBurnt Basque Cheesecake with Forest Fruit & Rioja Reduction with a mellow and sweet custard flavour is initially achieved before refrigeration. Then, depending on the shelf life of the cake at the time you take a slice (up to five days), the texture within each slice will vary in levels of creaminess and crumbliness and the sweetness will wax and wane as the fermentation of the cream cheese slowly takes over. In short, you could have a slice of Burnt Basque Cheesecake every weekday, and it would taste deliciously different each time.

How to serve it?

Serve at room temperature. If you have some escape of water from your cheesecake while waiting to get to this, gently wrap a clean sheet of kitchen roll around it to blot it up just before serving. On its own it is divine, but in Summer something rich and fruity drizzled over it would be mouthwatering. I recently made a reduction with frozen forest fruits, red wine, sugar and cinnamon and it paired with the more mature slices perfectly. A glass of dry sparkling white wine alongside wouldn’t go amiss either!