Cake in Other Places: Basque Cheesecake - No. 242
A crustless, deeply browned cheesecake relies on high heat for big caramelized flavor and a creamy, flan-like center. It isn’t burned, and it couldn’t be easier to make.
I’VE FOUND A CHEESECAKE for people who don’t like to accessorize.
It has no crust so no need to debate over graham cracker v. gingersnap. No need to fuss with a topping, either, because the top of this cheesecake bakes into the only topping you will ever need—a glossy, deeply caramelized chestnut-colored veneer.
This rogue way of baking cheesecake was created 30 years ago by Santiago Rivera, owner of a pintxos bar called La Viña in San Sebastián, in the Basque area of northern Spain. Pintxos, or pinchos, are small bar snacks eaten with toothpicks and washed down with sherry.
I have never been to La Viña, but supposedly the walls are lined with stack upon stack of this Basque cheesecake that is now a viral sensation. As the day progresses, one cheesecake—"tarta de queso"—after another comes off the shelf, out of the pan, and is sliced onto a plate.
I had Spanish sherry. I just needed to figure out how to bake this cheesecake.
First, let’s break some rules
Unlike Tuesday’s Eleanor’s Cheesecake that baked at a steady 325ºF in a graham cracker crust, the blast of a hotter oven browns the top of the Basque cheesecake and cooks the interior just enough to be creamy like flan.