This basque burnt cheesecake is soft and fluffy with a rich caramel crust. It is made from only six ingredients. This step by step recipe goes through everything you need to know to get that perfect blackened crust and ultra creamy centre. Don’t worry, it doesn’t taste burnt at all! It is just heavily browned from all of the protein and delicious fat in the batter (hello maillard reaction). The crust has a deep chocolate-caramel flavour. This cheesecake is much simpler to make than a typical baked cheesecake because you don’t have to worry about it burning or cracking!
The texture is like a cross between American cheesecake and Japanese jiggly cheesecake. It has the fluffiness of a Japanese cheesecake with the creamy, rich, cream cheese flavour of an American cheesecake. The best of both worlds!
You won’t even miss the crumb crust of a typical American cheesecake because this basque burnt cheesecake forms its own crust. The whole exterior develops a dark and rich caramel “skin.”
The recipe makes one 6” cheesecake. You don’t want to bake it in a pan larger than 7″ because it will bake faster through the middle and risk being overdone. It is best to use a round pan without a removable bottom because the cheesecake batter could leak through the cracks at the bottom. If using a spring form pan, make sure that the whole pan is fully covered in parchment paper with no holes to avoid leaks. Layer the bottom and sides with two layers of parchment paper. Just layer the parchment inside the pan and press it in so that it clings to the shape of the pan. The weight of the batter will do the rest of the work.
How to get that perfect blackened crust
It is pretty simple to get that striking black cheesecake exterior. The idea is to bake the cheesecake at a very high temperature for that extreme browning, while maintaining a silky smooth perfectly cooked interior. It is much easier to overbake a New York style cheesecake than a burnt cheesecake.
Preheat the oven to 260°C convection bake, twenty minutes before starting the basque cheesecake. This will give the oven plenty of time to fully heat up and retain heat.
Place the cheesecake in the oven and bake for around 30 minutes, checking at 20 minutes. You are checking to make sure that the crust is not browning too fast. At 20 minutes, it should be a medium brown colour. If it already looks black, turn down the oven temperature by about 15-20 degrees and keep a close eye on it for the next 5-10 minutes. It is possible to overdo it and to burn the cheesecake – you will know when the edges start to sparkle like charcoal.
Because the basque burnt cheesecake is being baked at such a high temperature, it is normal for the surface to crack. Cracks occur because the outside of the cheesecake cooks much faster than the inside. This can be reduced by rotating the cheesecake halfway through baking. Or embrace the cracks – they just add character!
The basque cheesecake is ready when it is very dark brown outside and jiggles quite a bit when you move the pan. Don’t worry, as it cools, it will keep cooking and set to the perfect cheesecake consistency.
Which oven setting is best for cheesecake?
I prefer to use the convection bake setting for cheesecake because it provides more even heat and I am not worried about the extra airflow ruining the cheesecake. I prefer not to use convection bake for things like spongecake or angel cake for those same reasons.
If you don’t have a convection setting, use the regular setting and carefully rotate the cheesecake halfway through baking if you notice that it is browning unevenly.
Every oven is different, so what works best for my oven may not work best for yours! Keep an eye on the basque burnt cheesecake through your oven (avoid opening it too much or you will lose heat).
Why is it important to let the cheesecake cool completely?
The basque burnt cheesecake will be very jiggly and gooey coming out of the oven. It will continue to bake from residual heat. As it cools, the fats will start to re-solidify and the cheesecake will have a firmer texture. It is important to refrigerate the cheesecake for at least a few hours to let the flavours develop even more – you get a creamier and richer bite. If you prefer a lighter, more eggy tasting cheesecake then you can definitely eat it as soon as it cools down. It does taste better after refrigerating and then letting it stand at room temperature for 20 minutes.
History and variations
The original recipe for basque cheesecake originated from Basque Country, Spain. Originally, it was made from cream cheese, sugar, eggs, flour, and heavy cream. There are many variations out there. Chefs are replacing the four with cornstarch, all-purpose flour, cake flour, or leaving it out altogether for an even creamier texture. Some even go as far as to add other cheese varieties such as brie, parmesan, or even blue cheese to add more umami flavour.
The texture also varies on the recipe. Some prefer to bake their basque burnt cheesecake at such a high temperature that the interior oozes out. Others prefer a firmer texture that holds its shape but is still smooth and fluffy.
This version of Basque cheesecake adds pure vanilla extract, and has a slightly firmer texture, closer to a New York style cheesecake. The slices hold their shape well, but it is still perfectly light, soft, and smooth.
Check out my other recipes
Let’s get burning!
20 minutes before beginning, preheat oven to 260°C convection bake (see above recipe for alternative oven settings). Line the inside of a 6” round pan (at least 2.5” tall) with two layers of parchment paper. Leave a few inches of overhang and trim the rest down. You want to leave some because your cheesecake might rise higher than your pan.
In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment (or a large mixing bowl with an electric hand mixer), blend the softened cream cheese, vanilla extract, and granulated sugar until the sugar dissolves.
Add the eggs in one by one, beating well between each egg.
Place the flour in a separate bowl. Add the cream to the flour bit by bit, whisking to remove lumps.
Pour the flour-cream mixture into the rest of the batter and mix well to combine.
Pour into the prepared baking pan. The batter may come up higher than the sides of the pan. Pop any air bubbles with a toothpick. Place on top of a larger baking pan (a cookie tray with lifted edges works great) and place into the preheated oven. Bake for 30 minutes, until the top is very dark but the cheesecake is still very jiggly. Check the cheesecake starting at 25 minutes. See notes below recipe for tips on how to tell if it is ready.
Remove the basque burnt cheesecake from the oven and let cool completely for at least two hours. Remove the cheesecake by lifting it by the parchment paper. Gently peel off the parchment paper.
Slice and serve. It has a creamy, light and fluffy texture when served at room temperature. To get a richer firmer texture, refrigerate for 4-6 hours (or overnight) before serving.
Basque Burnt Cheesecake
- electric hand mixer or stand mixer with paddle attachment
- parchment paper
- 6" or 7" round pan (at least 2.5" tall)
- 16 oz full fat cream cheese, softened (500 g)
- ⅔ cup granulated sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp salt
- 2 large eggs room temperature
- 270 g heavy or whipping cream
- 20 g all-purpose flour or cake flour for an even fluffier texture
- 20 minutes before starting, preheat oven to 260°C (convection bake preferred). Line the inside of a 6” or 7" round pan (at least 2.5” tall) with two layers of parchment paper. Leave a few inches of extra parchment paper sticking out of the top and trim the rest down.
- In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment (or a large mixing bowl with an electric hand mixer), blend the softened cream cheese, granulated sugar, vanilla extract, and salt until the sugar dissolves.
- Add the eggs in one by one, beating well in between.
- Place the flour in a separate bowl. Add the cream to the flour bit by bit, whisking to remove lumps.
- Pour the flour mixture into the rest of the batter and mix well to combine.
- Pour into the prepared baking pan. The batter may come up higher than the sides of the pan. Pop any air bubbles with a toothpick. Place on top of a larger baking pan and into the preheated oven. Bake for 30 minutes, until the top is very dark but the cheesecake is still very jiggly. Check the cheesecake starting at 25 minutes. See notes for tips on what to do if cheesecake darkens too fast or too slow.
- Remove the burnt cheesecake from the oven and let cool to room temperature for at least two hours. Refrigerate for at least 4-6 hours for a creamier, more flavourful cheesecake. Let stand at room temperature 20 minutes before slicing and serving. Serve as is or with a dollop of whipped cream and fresh berries.
- Check the cheesecake at 20 minutes. It should be a medium brown colour. If it already looks black, turn down the oven temperature by about 15-20 degrees and keep a close eye on it for the next 5-10 minutes.
- You will know if you burnt it too much because the edges will sparkle like charcoal. If it happens, just trim those bits off before serving.
- Cheesecake is ready when it is very dark brown outside and jiggles quite a bit. As it cools, it will keep cooking and set to the perfect cheesecake consistency.
- I prefer to use the convection bake setting for cheesecake because it provides more even heat.
- If you don’t have a convection setting, use the regular setting and carefully rotate the cheesecake halfway through baking if you notice that it is browning unevenly.
- Every oven is different, so what works best for my oven may not work best for yours! Keep an eye on the cheesecake through the oven door (avoid opening it too much or you might lose too much heat).