I generally shy away from making the latest trendy desserts (I have yet to craft a cake pop), but I couldn’t resist the lure of the burnt cheesecake from the Basque region of Spain. This crust-less cheesecake is the antithesis of a classic New York-style cheesecake. It isn’t even baked in a water bath – in fact, it’s baked at 425 degrees, which results in its dramatic oven rise and characteristic burnt amber top. The center is flan-like, as opposed to creamy, as the base of the batter is made from cream cheese, eggs and cream – no sour cream in this one. And it’s delicious. I decided to pair it with a simple strawberry sauce that’s subtly spiced with pink peppercorns, but you won’t go wrong with a big dollop of sweetened whipped cream.
Makes one 9-inch cake, serving 10 to 12
- 26 ounces (737 grams) cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1 1/4 cups (250 grams) granulated sugar
- 5 large (250 grams) eggs
- 2 cups (464 grams) heavy cream, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 tablespoon vanilla paste or extract
- 2 1/2 teaspoons (12 grams) lemon juice
- ¼ cup (28 grams) sifted cake flour
Strawberry Pink Peppercorn Sauce:
- 1 pint (227 grams) fresh strawberries, hulled and washed
- 2 tablespoons (25 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pink peppercorns, lightly crushed
Make the cheesecake:
- Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 425˚F. Line a 9-inch springform cake pan with 2 perpendicular sheets of parchment paper, pressing and pleating them against the sides of the pan and making sure that the parchment comes at least 1 1/2 inches above the top of the pan. Using scissors, trim off the high corner pieces of the paper (so they are less likely to burn). Place the lined pan on a rimmed baking sheet.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment, mix the cream cheese and sugar together at medium-low speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as necessary, until the mixture is completely smooth and the sugar has dissolved, about 2 minutes.
- Increase the speed to medium and add the eggs one a time, mixing well after each addition and mixing until completely blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl again, reduce the speed to medium-low, and add 1 1/4 cups of the cream, the salt, vanilla and lemon juice and mix until blended. Scrape down the bowl again and mix for another 10 seconds or so. Stop the mixer. Resift the flour into a small bowl and whisk it while gradually adding the remaining ¾ cup cream; whisk until completely smooth. Add this mixture to the remaining batter in the bowl and mix at low speed until combined. Give the bowl another good scrape down and mix for 10 seconds or so, until the batter is silky-smooth. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until the top of the cake is very dark and slightly charred in spots, and the center of the cake is slightly wobbly (the cake will continue to bake and set after it is removed from the oven).
- Cool the cake completely in the pan, set on a wire rack (the cake will fall as it cools).
Make the sauce:
- Slice the strawberries and put them into a medium saucepan with the sugar, lemon juice and peppercorns. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, just until the strawberries release some liquid and look saucy (don’t bring them to a boil – you want to retain their fresh flavor). Cool the sauce completely. Serve at room temperature.
- When the cake is completely cool, unclasp and remove the side of the pan, peel off the paper and serve wedges of the cake (either at room temperature or chilled) with the sauce.