This "Burnt" Cheesecake Is Bursting with Rich Caramel Flavor

Discover the beauty of the Basque cheesecake for the perfect balance between a rich caramel crust and creamy cheesecake center—with no stressing over cracks.

Its the worst feeling to spend a lot of time and effort on making a homemade cheesecake only to have it come out cracked. Sure, it still tastes OK, but as an avid baker, I can't help but feel disappointed when the presentation isn't picture perfect. If you can relate, Basque "burnt" cheesecake is the creamy dessert you've been waiting for. Defying all the usual basics of baking, you literally want this cheesecake to appear dark and burnt. It's creamy, decadent, and can be made without a water bath or worry of making it look pretty. In fact, any less color than charred and you might end up with a runny mess. Basque cheesecakes are appearing in social media feeds a lot these days, so here's what to know about the trendy dessert before you head to the kitchen.

Basque burnt cheesecake close up
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What Is Basque Cheesecake?

Basque cheesecake (aka tarta de queso or gazta tarta) got its start at La Viña Bar in San Sebastián, Spain about 30 years ago. It's got the foundation of a basic cheesecake recipe, using a combo of cream cheese, heavy cream, eggs, and sugar. The only differences here are a lack of crust and the burnt topping. Just creamy, smooth cheesecake. To achieve the burnt exterior, Basque cheesecake is baked at a high temperature for a short time.

How to Make Basque Cheesecake

In a recipe by Chef Tavel Bristol-Joseph on our sister site, Food & Wine, you'll prepare a springform pan by firmly pressing parchment paper to fit the pan and hang over the sides. From there, beat together cream cheese and sugar for 4-6 minutes before adding flour and heavy whipping cream. After you've added eggs and vanilla extract, pour into your prepared pan and bake at 450°F for 30 minutes. Cool on a wire rack completely before chilling at least 4 hours, preferably overnight. The mixture will be very jiggly, but that's completely normal. As long as it's got that dark, burnt look, your Basque cheesecake is done. (Get the full recipe and instructions here).

While it's pretty hard to mess this recipe up, Bristol-Joseph notes to not overmix your batter, as it could develop gluten and become firmer in consistency (we want creamy). When you're ready to serve, open the springform pan and carefully peel back the parchment paper. It should sit at room temperature at least 30 minutes before slicing (so plan ahead!). As for the taste of this dessert, don't expect it to taste burnt. The dark exterior not only firms up the surface, but caramelizes to offer a warm, molasses-like flavor. And the reviewers are raving, saying things like, "I made this yesterday and it is the best cheesecake I've ever eaten. I'm Portuguese and this brought me back to Iberia for a moment. I loved the burnt caramelized tasting top."

If you're in the mood for more after trying out the burnt Basque cheesecake, try one of our other showstopping cheesecake recipes for your next baking session.

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