This Basque-style burnt cheesecake is so delicious, and it’s also one of the least fussy cheesecakes I know. While low and slow is preferable for some cheesecake recipes, this one bakes at a higher temperature to form its own “crust” on the base (without a separate crust recipe) and the signature deeply browned surface. I decided to kick up the burnt flavor by adding burnt lemon—I loved this technique in my friend Jake Cohen’s delicious recipe for hamantaschen filling—and thought it would pair beautifully with this delicate cake, too. My version has a few other less-common swaps, like the inclusion of brown sugar in the cheesecake base—but it remains a deceptively simple cake that’s sure to impress. —Erin Jeanne McDowell
- Prep time 2 hours 10 minutes
- Cook time 1 hour 5 minutes
- makes One 9-inch cheesecake
large lemon (85 grams), halved
(906 grams) cream cheese, at room temperature
(160 grams) packed light brown sugar
(100 grams) granulated sugar
(30 grams) all-purpose flour
(2 grams) fine sea salt
large (340 grams) eggs, at room temperature
(230 grams) heavy cream
(5 grams) vanilla extract
- Lightly grease a springform pan with nonstick spray. Cut 3 to 4 squares of parchment and place them in the pan, slightly overlapping, so the whole pan is covered and the excess hangs over the entire outside rim of the pan. Grease the parchment with nonstick spray. Heat the oven to 425°F/220°C.
- Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat until it’s very hot. While it heats, slice half of the lemon into ¼-inch-thick slices, then cut the end off of the second half so it has two flat ends. Discard any seeds.
- Sear the lemon slices and lemon half in the hot pan for 3 to 5 minutes per side, until deeply caramelized and burnt.
- Into a food processor, squeeze the burnt lemon half so the juice collects in the bowl. Add the burnt lemon slices (peel and all) and cream cheese and process for 3 to 4 minutes, until the lemon is fully incorporated and the mixture is fairly smooth.
- Scrape the bowl well, then add the brown sugar, granulated sugar, flour, and salt and pulse to combine.
- Scrape the bowl well, then add the eggs one at a time, scraping the bowl well after each addition is incorporated. Add the cream and vanilla and mix to combine.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan in an even layer. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes. (It will soufflé up dramatically in the oven—don’t be alarmed if it begins to collapse as it cools!)
- Let cool at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours, then refrigerate for at least 2 hours before slicing and serving.