Ch. 03: The Basque Burnt Cheesecake that breaks all the rules

Cheesecake is arguably one of the most beloved desserts across the board. I mean there’s just something about the rich creamy texture that’s a vehicle for a sweet, somewhat tangy filling enough to satisfy people young and old. That being said, I don’t make cheesecakes that often because they tend to be pretty finicky and in need of some serious attention that I don’t care for. Anyone who’s made a proper baked cheesecake knows that the recipe often calls for baking in a water bath and a long cool time often with a slightly ajar oven door prior to chilling in the fridge. All of this is done to prevent cracks which- although have no bearing on flavor or texture- are a real pain after all that time spent. 

Basque Cheesecake is one of those trendy recipes that’s all over the internet these days because of its burnt top that defies all the rules. I remember first hearing about it through a Bon Appetit video where Molly Baz goes into depth about how this is unlike the classic New York style. And so upon seeing that I had a boat load of cream cheese on hand, I decided to make this and went back to my Bon Appetit source for guidance.

 

As much as I love cheesecake, there’s only three of us in the house and so a 10” one seemed excessive. I ended up taking all of the recipe quantities and reducing them by ¾ (which was actually less stressful than it seems) in order to fit into a 9” pan. The process itself is not too far off from that of a traditional cheesecake, although there’s less of a care about over-beating and incorporating too much air. Once nice and smooth, the batter is poured directly into a spring form pan that’s well lined with parchment paper that only looks haphazardly pressed into the bottom. But wait, where’s the crust, you may be asking? That’s one of the big differences between this and the classic. There’s no graham cracker crust to be found, and honestly it’s not missed. Traditional crusts don’t often stand up to the long baking and cooling times, and tend to turn into a sad, soggy bottom of lightly sweetened graham crackers and disappointment. Here, the edges and bottom of the filling bake up more firmly than the center to make its own crust- magic I tell you! By the time the cheesecake comes out of the oven, it dons a near burned top that would worry the average home cook. It’s deeply browned, cracked on the edges and sunken in the center- but it’s perfect in every way. After chilling in the oven, (I mean who likes room temperature cheesecake anyway ?) we were treated to a silky interior that tastes like you put all the care in the world into it with absolutely no hints of burnt flavor. It’s so good in fact that we had a consensus that it didn’t need any toppings- no strawberry sauce, no whipped cream, no caramel. We loved this recipe so much that I’ve actually made it several times in lockdown, both for us and friends, because it’s just that good. For the first time, burning something doesn’t just have to be an accident anymore.

Reduced amounts for 9″ Springform:
1.5 lbs (3 blocks) Cream Cheese, room temperature
1 ¼ cups of Granulated Sugar
4 Large Eggs at room temperature
1 ½ cups of Heavy Cream
3/4 teaspoon of Salt (less if using table salt aka Morton’s)
3/4 teaspoon of Vanilla Extract
2 ½ tablespoons of All Purpose Flour

Prepare recipe based on the method laid out in the video, swapping the 10″ spring-form pan for a 9″ and reducing the baking time to 45-55 minutes.

Full Recipe | Method by Molly Baz of Bon Appetit:

Written Recipe Below:

https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/basque-burnt-cheesecake

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