Baked, Cake
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Tarta de Queso de La Viña (Burnt Basque Cheesecake)

I’ve been fortunate enough to spend some time in the Basque Country. However, the real fortune would be to go to La Viña and try the burnt Basque cheesecake. Maybe I have, my time in Donostiarra is quite the blur as I was between zuritos and chupitos the whole time. As of now, the only option I have is to try to recreate it.

I don’t make cakes this rich often. So this past May during quarantine when my husband Marc asked me to make him this cake for his birthday, how could I say no?

Burnt Basque Cheesecake
The Burnt Basque Cheesecake in all its glory. Good thing the char is what’s attractive.

The first thing I am going to say is this: use very good cream cheese for this. It will make all of the difference. If you can get local cream cheese from a dairy farm, do it. If you can’t any brand is also fine.

A few notes before you start:

  1. This cheesecake is intentionally burnt. And that’s okay. It will not taste like a piece of charcoal in your mouth, it’ll taste like a delicate balance of cheeses; slightly bitter, sweet, and a little caramelized.
  2. You will need a springform pan and parchment paper. DO NOT use wax paper. Wax paper melts. It is NOT an alternative to parchment paper.

Ingredients

  • 2 lb. cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp rum Brugal
Fancy a less rich cheesecake? Try my lemon curd cheesecake recipe.

Method

  • Preheat your oven to 400°F/204°C. Butter your pan and line with two large sheets of parchment paper, around 16″x13″ Make sure the sheets of paper overlap completely.
  • Place your cream cheese and sugar in a bowl and beat them on medium-low speed. Make sure you scrape the edges and the bottom because cheese and sugar get trapped there all the time! Mix until everything is dissolved and well mixed, around 3-4 minutes.
  • Slowly begin to increment the speed of the mixer and add the eggs one at a time. Beat the eggs for 20 seconds before adding another. Scrape the edges.
  • Add the cream, salt, rum, and vanilla. Mix for another 20 seconds.
  • With the mixer off. sift the flour into the cream cheese mix and beat on a low speed until incorporated. No more than 20 seconds.
  • Scrape the edges and make sure everything is well mixed and looks silky and luxurious.
  • Pour the cheese minx into your prepared springform pan. Bake the cheesecake until it’s deeply brown, about 60 minutes.
  • You’ll know it’s done when you see it’s slightly burnt and jiggly in the middle.
  • When you pull it out of the oven, it’ll be very puffed up. Let it cool for about 20 minutes as it will deflate a little.
  • Remove from the springform and slowly peel off the parchment paper. Slice and enjoy with a glass of cava or something refreshing and dry that will cut through all the sweetness and richness of the cake!

What makes La Viña’s Burnt Basque Cheesecake so good anyway?

It’s foolproof and very hard to mess up. However burnt it is, it’s still edible and delicious because the richness of the silky and creamy center balances out the burnt edges. Maybe its appeal is how simple and easy it is to make. Maybe it’s because we’re all gluttons for sugar and dairy. Once you start making this you’ll forget about making graham cookie bases and cherry toppings.

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