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This easy creamy mini Basque cheesecake with a “burnt” (super-caramelized) top requires just five ingredients and can be mixed up and baked in half an hour. It’s the perfect dessert for one (or two)!
This is my take on the dreamy classic famous Basque cheesecake you can get at La Viña restaurant in San Sebastian here in Spain. It’s super-creamy, just like the original, and needs no additional flavoring.
Why you’ll love it:
- It’s incredibly easy and quick to make.
- It’s super creamy with no eggy or soufflé-like texture.
- The caramelized top goes so well with the creamy cheescake that no flavoring is needed.
- It’s crustless.
- It can be made ahead, so perfect for entertaining.
- It’s made in a ramekin with no need for lining paper.
- It’s vegetarian!
- It can be enjoyed as a single serving or shared with another person (romantic!).
Ingredients and substitutions:
This mini Basque cheesecake needs just five ingredients, so there’s actually not much room for substitutions. Let’s take a look at the ingredients in the picture below, and then see if anything can be omitted, substituted, or added.
All-purpose flour: This is really to help the cheesecake stay together, it can be substituted with finely ground Italian “00” style flour or cornflour. As an added bonus, using cornflour will also ensure this cheesecake is gluten-free! I don’t recommend using multi-grain or whole-grain flours or any dark strongly-flavored flours (like rye).
Sugar: You definitely need this and don’t change the amount as it will greatly change the texture. Plain white granulated table sugar (for those in the US do check to make sure it wasn’t processed using bone char) is what is needed for this recipe. It cannot be substituted with anything else.
Egg: You must use egg in this recipe. I am not a fan of eggs and so I’m working on testing an egg-free version but I haven’t been successful yet, so for now, use egg!
Cream cheese: This is completely necessary and must be full-fat. Don’t use low-fat or light cream cheese. The better the quality of the cream cheese the tastier your mini Basque cheesecake will be, I prefer using Kraft Philadelphia cream cheese (the original kind in the silver wrapper) for this recipe.
Cream: This has to be double, heavy, or whipping cream, the fresh refrigerated kind with a high-fat content (30% or more). In a pinch, I would say you could substitute with sour cream or creme fraiche as long as they have at least 30 grams of fat for every hundred grams, but I haven’t tested this substitution yet.
Also just an FYI, I’ve seen many recipes add vanilla to “counteract” any eggy flavor, but it’s really not necessary with the small amount of egg in this dish and is completely inauthentic. If baked cheesecakes have an eggy flavor it usually means they have been overcooked.
How to make it
Making mini Basque cheesecake couldn’t be easier. You’re just going to measure your ingredients, mix them up well, bake and then broil until the top is dark and caramelized. Delicious.
In this section, I’ll break everything down and accompany the instructions with photos, in case you need to check something or want to make sure you’re on the right track.
First, preheat your oven to 400ºF (200ºC). Then gather your ingredients and measure into a medium-sized mixing bowl (image one below). Be exact with your measurements (I use kitchen scales).
For measuring the egg, I find it is easier to put the well-beaten egg into a tablespoon measuring spoon and then add it to the bowl.
This is because if you try to get a tablespoon of the beaten egg by dipping the measuring spoon into a bowl, half of it will just slip out!
Now whisk the mixture until it’s smooth and doesn’t have any lumps (image two above). You can use a fork or manual whisk if you are really diligent about smushing any little lumps, or an electric whisk or hand-held stick blender (which is much easier).
Just make sure to only whisk until smooth and not add lots of air and volume.
Now, grab your ramekin. The key to making this cheesecake is using a glazed ramekin of at least 8.5fluid ounce capacity. You can also use an oven-safe mug if it can hold at least 8.5 fluid ounces.
You’ll need a little butter or margarine to grease it, and if your ramekin has a slight lip like mine then make sure to grease that bit really well (image five below).
Now pour the whisked smooth creamy mixture into the greased ramekin. You’ll see it will nearly fill the ramekin up (image four above, don’t worry, this cheesecake doesn’t rise much).
Place your ramekin in the middle of your preheated oven and bake for around twenty minutes. I say around because of people’s differing preferences.
Here in Spain plenty of people enjoy their blackened burnt cheesecake when it has a still liquid center (bake for fifteen minutes, as in image five below). This can be a little risky if you are making the cheesecakes for entertaining as they won’t be as stable as a more fully cooked cheesecake.
After much testing, twenty minutes is my favorite as the cheesecake will be fully cooked through but still quite creamy on the inside. Twenty-five minutes of baking will yield a firmer cheesecake with a slightly eggier consistency, and an eggy consistency is not something I’m a fan of.
Bake to your desired consistency, and then move the cheesecake up to an inch or two under the broiler and broil on high for between five to eight minutes until the top is nice and blackened (see image number six above).
It is perfectly normal if the cheesecake puffs slightly up at the edges and later deflates a little, just like the large traditional Basque cheesecake it is based on.
Don’t worry, the cheesecake won’t taste burnt. The high amount of sugar means that the top will taste like a layer of delicious caramelized sticky toffee!
Remove the cheesecake from the oven when done and immediately (and carefully) run a knife around the top edge to separate any caramelized bits from the sides of the ramekin.
This will prevent any sticking. You don’t need to stick the knife down far, just enough to separate the top layer (image seven below).
Now it’s time to begin cooling your mini cheesecake. You can eat it hot or warm and it would be tasty but like most baked cheesecakes, it would taste more like a soufflé than a creamy cheesecake, so I suggest allowing it to cool.
Leave to cool on a wire rack at room temperature in the kitchen for about an hour or until cool enough to touch.
If you are in a hurry to eat it (who wouldn’t be?) you can then transfer it to the freezer for around 45 minutes until chilled through, and then either eat or retire it to the fridge (covered with saran wrap or similar) until needed.
If you’re not in a hurry to eat, then I recommend covering the top (to prevent it from drying out in the fridge) once it’s at room temperature and placing it in the fridge at least overnight until thoroughly chilled. Like most baked cheesecakes, this one improves with age.
Only once it is thoroughly chilled should you attempt to remove the cheesecake from the ramekin. Slip a thin knife around the edges and make sure the sides have separated from the ramekin, then invert it and tap on the bottom, it should gently slide out.
Sometimes you may need to insert the knife once inverted and apply gentle downward pressure to the sides to help it slip out. Then simply place a plate on top of the inverted cheesecake in your hand and turn your hands over so the plate and cheesecake are right-side-up (image eight above).
I should add that eating the cheesecake from the ramekin is perfectly fine as well! I normally do this with my kids as they can’t always finish a whole one by themselves and that way it can be easily covered and stored in the fridge for the following day.
This cheesecake will keep in the fridge for up to five days maximum but tastes best after one to two days.
You can but I don’t recommend it.
This dish is not normally served with sauce or coulis. Having said that it is very tasty served with a berry-based white wine reduction on the side (not on top or it will make the caramelized layer soggy).
You can but I don’t recommend it – at around twenty-five minutes the consistency starts to become a little eggy as the egg overcooks.
Did you make this mini Basque cheesecake? Let me know how much you loved it with a star rating, review, and/or comment below.
Take a picture of your finished dish and tag me on Instagram (@the_fiery_vegetarian) or connect with me on Facebook, I love seeing all your creations!
- 1 cup full-fat cream cheese (4.25oz/120g)
- 1 tablespoon beaten egg
- ½ cup sugar (1.41oz/40g)
- Scant ¼ cup heavy or double cream (1.86 fl oz/55ml)
- 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
- Butter or margarine for greasing
- Preheat the oven to 400ºF (200ºC).
- Measure all the ingredients into a mixing bowl and whisk or blend until smooth. For the best results be very precise when measuring, preferably using kitchen scales.
- Grease an 8.5 oz (250ml) ramekin. Note that you can use a ramekin that's slightly bigger but not a smaller one or the cheesecake will overflow. Pour the creamy mixture into the greased ramekin.
- Bake in the middle of the preheated oven for 20 minutes.
- Immediately switch on the broil to high heat and move the cheesecake up to just one-two inches under the heat source. Broil five-eight minutes until dark brown.
- Remove from the oven, run a knife around the edges to separate the caramelized layer from the ramekin, and allow to cool to room temperature (approximately one hour).
- Now you can either place it in the freezer for forty-five minutes to chill completely quickly or cover and leave it overnight in the fridge.
- If removing the cheesecake from the ramekin to serve, make sure it is completely chilled through. then loosen the sides with a thin knife, invert the ramekin, and tap the bottom until it comes out. Place plate on top and invert so that the plate is on the bottom and the cheesecake is burnt-side up.
Will keep tightly covered for up to five days in the fridge and is freezer-friendly.
The cream should have a fat content of at least 30% and be fresh, not the boxed shelf-stable kind. If you can't find heavy, double or whipping cream, creme fraiche or sour cream could be substituted.
To make gluten-free, swap out the all-purpose flour for cornflour.
Amount Per Serving Calories 341Total Fat 27.5gSaturated Fat 17gTrans Fat 1gUnsaturated Fat 8.5gCholesterol 97mgSodium 214mgCarbohydrates 59gFiber 0gSugar 55gProtein 9g