This Chocolate Basque Burnt Cheesecake is the indulgent, creamy, and chocolatey cheesecake of your dreams!
The first time I ever encountered a Basque Burnt Cheesecake, I honestly thought it would be a passing trend. That was before I actually tasted one mind you. I just saw it on Instagram; saw people going gaga over it. And because I am often a skeptic when it comes to things I see on social media, I honestly thought it was just some passing fancy. Yet my nagging curiosity would not leave me in peace, so I decided to make one, and… Well, I guess I’ll just have to pull out a cliché here: The rest was history.
I still see a lot of people on Instagram making videos about basque burnt cheesecake, so apparently it’s not something that just went back into the shadows after some time in the limelight. Deservedly so, if you ask me. Not only does it give you a taste of Spain, it’s also one of those things that is pretty close to being over-the-top indulgent; yet when you eat it, it feels like a real reward to yourself. Indulgent in a so-worth-it way, you could say.
Anyway, as the story goes, after I made my first basque cheesecake and fell head over heels in love, I wanted to explore other flavors. I actually have another one backlogged for posting, but I really wanted to go with this Chocolate Basque Burnt Cheesecake first. If only you could see my handwritten notes along the margins of this recipe print-out, you would see the giant “OMG WHY IS THIS SO GOOD!!?” that’s scrawled there.
A side-note: I have a very interesting note-taking process for the recipes I make. The extensive notes are typed in my recipe app on my computer, but I also write these short expressive notes along the margins of the recipe print-outs. These notes are for future me in case I go back to old recipes and try to remember how strongly they made me feel. If this “OMG WHY IS THIS SO GOOD!!?” is not clear enough, I don’t know what is lol.
This Chocolate Basque Burnt Cheesecake is, as I have been saying, REALLY really good. It’s super creamy and absolutely delicious. I feel like I didn’t do the cheesecake justice with the really messy way I made my slices. I feel that it doesn’t effectively highlight how creamy this is. I’m telling myself right now that what’s more important is the taste, but if I could turn back time I think I would’ve made the extra effort. (If you want smooth clean slices btw, run your knife under hot water and wipe it off and use the knife immediately while still hot.)
I used Philadelphia‘s block cream cheese for this, and I think it helped give the cheesecake a nice tang that complements the chocolate taste. I always make it a point to use Philadelphia for cheesecakes because for me it has a nicer flavor overall compared to other brands. The chocolate I used is of course from Auro, and I have some notes about cacao percentages down below you will want to read.
I don’t really want to keep yammering on over here since my recipe notes down below are kind of long and detailed, so I think I should really leave you to it. I hope this doesn’t dissuade you from making this Chocolate Basque Burnt Cheesecake. It’s not really a complicated recipe. There are simply some little things to note as you go through the process; things that may seem inconsequential laid out in instruction form but actually matter in the grand scheme of things. So yeah, even though I realize lengthy notes may seem intimidating, I put them all in there to be (hopefully) helpful to you.
I just really want everyone to bask in the gloriousness of this Chocolate Basque Burnt Cheesecake.
- Make sure to use a springform pan that has been properly lined with parchment. You need a 9-inch (or 8-inch) springform pan for this recipe. It will make it easier for you to unmold your cheesecake. You also have to line your pan with two long sheets of parchment, about 16- x 12-inches, crisscrossed against one another, creased and pleated until it flattens out inside the pan. You want to make sure the paper extends at least 2 inches above the rim of the pan. The purpose of the parchment is to provide support for the cheesecake as it rises up while it bakes. (That said, also place the pan on a baking sheet just in case there are any spills.)
- Do not boil the cream you’ll be using to melt your chocolate. You just want to heat it up until you see steam coming off the cream. As soon as you see any tiny bubbles around the sides of the pan, take the cream off the heat before it starts simmering. We just want it hot enough to melt the chocolate. Allowing cream to come to a boil will make it thick and will initiate the curdling process.
- Adjust the amount of sugar according to your chocolate. This recipe allows for the usage of any chocolate between 64% to 80%. Because of this, you will need to adjust the amount of sugar to compensate for the extra bitterness that chocolate with a higher cacao content may impart. For instance, since I used 64%, I decided to cut down the sugar to 1 cup. If you decide to use 80% cacao, use 1-1/8 cups of sugar to balance. For cheesecake with a darker hue, use chocolate from 70% up.
- Do not scrimp on the cream cheese and the cream. They are the crucial ingredients of a cheesecake after all. Personally, I prefer Philadelphia cream cheese for cheesecake recipes. I think it has a nicer flavor compared to other brands I’ve tried so far. As for the heavy cream, I like Emborg or Anchor. I think they add an overall nice texture and creaminess to things. I have never tried making a basque cheesecake with all-purpose cream so I cannot comment on it.
- Beat the eggs into your cream cheese mixture one at a time. We want to beat each egg into the mixture until fully incorporated before adding in the next egg. This allows the main mixture to absorb the eggs properly rather than be overwhelmed by having to absorb all 4 eggs at the same time. (You can use a hand mixer for this part to make sure the eggs are very well mixed in, but a spatula works just as well.) Medium eggs are preferred for this recipe, at the risk of the cheesecake tasting “eggy”.
- If you don’t have cocoa powder, you can use all-purpose flour instead. The cocoa powder will help act as a binder, so in essence, all-purpose flour can be used for the same purpose. However, I still recommend using cocoa powder for this cake for additional chocolate flavor, especially if you use Dutched cocoa powder. If you think your cocoa powder might be lumpy, sift it in.
- Cool down the chocolate mixture before adding into your main mixture with the cream cheese and eggs. We don’t want anything to get prematurely cooked by the hot chocolate. Also, make sure to work the chocolate mixture into the main mixture very very well– until homogenous. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl as you mix to make sure everything is incorporated. You can strain the batter into your pan if you are worried there are any lumpy bits in there.
- Bake cheesecake with top and bottom oven heating on. My oven relies mostly on bottom heating like many ovens out there, so for this cake I had to keep in mind to switch the top heating on as well. That’s why it takes this a lot less time than normal basque burnt cheesecakes do. (This Classic Basque Burnt Cheesecake takes 60 minutes!) It’s also baked at a slightly higher temp. After 25 minutes, you’ll get a slightly burnt top plus a “skin”. The sides of the cheesecake will look slightly cracked but set, while the center is very puffed and should be very jiggly. This is a good indication that it’s done but the inside is still soft and creamy. If you want a really burnt top, extending by 5 minutes with only top heating on should be fine. Take care not to over-bake of it’ll be too firm, which is not at all the basque cheesecake texture we are aiming for.
Allow the cheesecake to cool down completely before covering with plastic wrap and putting in the fridge. If you refrigerate it while it’s still a little warm as I did, you will get moisture trapped inside. It doesn’t affect the taste of the cheesecake but you might feel that it’s a little “wet” as you eat it. Also, I recommend overnight refrigeration to allow the cheesecake to set and its flavors to mature. You are free to slice into it without refrigerating if you want. The center will probably be molten and I know that many people like that.
Chocolate Basque Burnt Cheesecake
- 1⅓ cups (320 mL) heavy whipping cream, at room temperature
- 100 grams bittersweet chocolate 64% to 80% cacao, roughly chopped*
- 2⅞ cups (650 grams) cream cheese, softened at room temperature
- 1 to 1⅛ cups (180 to 215 grams) sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 4 medium eggs at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon (10 grams) cocoa powder natural or Dutched is okay**
- Preheat oven to 450°F (230°C) using the oven setting where both upper and lower heat are on. Place oven rack in the middle. Lightly grease an 8- or 9-inch springform pan, then line with two overlapping 16- x 12-inch sheets of parchment. Make sure the parchment comes at least 2 inches above the rim of the pan on all sides. Pleat and crease to fit parchment into the pan as needed. It won't look neat but that's normal. Place pan on a rimmed baking sheet to catch any spills.
- In a saucepan, heat the cream just until it starts to steam and form tiny bubbles around the sides of the pan. Do not let it simmer and especially do not let it boil! We just want to scald it enough to melt the chocolate. You can either pour the hot cream over the chocolate, or place the chocolate into the pan with the cream. Leave for about a minute then stir until the chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Set aside to cool while you continue with the recipe.
- In a large bowl, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, and salt, until the sugar is completely dissolved. (Use up to 1⅛ cups sugar if you use chocolate with a higher cacao content.) To test, rub a bit of the mixture between your fingers to see if it is not grainy to the touch anymore. Using a hand mixer will be easier, but beating it by hand will work just fine.
- Using a spatula, mix in the eggs one at a time, beating until each egg is fully incorporated before adding the next.
- Make sure the chocolate cream is barely warm to the touch before adding it into the cream cheese mixture. Add in the cocoa powder as well (sift it in if you want it completely smooth), then whisk everything until fully incorporated and the mixture is homogenous. Scrape the sides and the bottom of the bowl as you mix to make sure everything is well incorporated and there are no unmixed bits at the bottom.
- Strain the batter into your pan through a fine mesh sieve for a smoother cheesecake. Bake cheesecake for about 25 minutes. The top will be slightly burnt at this point, and it will have developed a "skin". The cheesecake should still be very jiggly as well. If you would like to burn the tops further, bake for a little longer. (You want the cheesecake to come out of the oven jiggly so that it'll be soft and creamy inside, so take care not to overbake.)
- Allow the cheesecake to cool down completely before covering with plastic wrap and putting in the fridge. (If you refrigerate it while it's still a little warm as I did, you will get moisture trapped inside. It doesn't affect the taste of the cheesecake but you might feel that it's a little "wet".)
- Refrigerate the cheesecake overnight for best texture and flavor. If you prefer your cheesecake molten in the center or very very soft, feel free to dig right in before popping the cheesecake in the fridge.
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