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Basque Cheesecake Recipe & Video

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The first thing you will notice with a Basque Cheesecake (also known as a San Sebastian Cheesecake) is that its outer crust is beautifully caramelized. Yet inside its texture is wonderfully light and airy, almost mousse-like. This unique cheesecake was invented in the 1990s by Chef Santiago Rivera of La Vina Cafe in the Basque region of Spain. It is often served with a glass of sherry. 

The texture of this cheesecake is very important, both the outside and inside. It doesn't have a separate crust, like a lot of cheesecakes. Instead, because the cheesecake is baked at a very high temperature (425 F) (218 C), the outside of the cheesecake forms its own deep golden brown colored crust. Yet, because of the high baking temperature, inside the cheesecake remains light and airy. Now, there are different opinions as to how soft the center of the cheesecake should be. Some like the center of the cheesecake to be quite soft, almost runny, like the center of a molten chocolate cake. Personally, I like it to be a little firmer, more like a soufflé. You will also notice that after baking, the texture of the cheesecake changes depending on whether you serve it warm from the oven (it will be soft), at room temperature (a little more firm), or chilled (more dense in texture).

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Basque Cheesecake: Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F (218 degrees C) with the oven rack in the center of the oven. Grease a 9 inch (23 cm) round springform pan with 3 inch (7.5 cm) sides. Then line the pan with two - 12 x 16 inch (30 x 40 cm) overlapping strips of parchment paper. Make sure the parchment paper comes about 2 inches (5 cm) above the top of the pan. (I find it best to first crumple the parchment paper into a ball. Then smooth out the parchment paper and press onto the bottom and sides of the pan. Don't worry if the edges of the paper are creased.) Place the springform pan on a larger baking sheet to catch any drips.

In a small bowl, rub the lemon zest into the sugar. Stir in the flour and salt.

In bowl of your electric stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment (or with a hand mixer), place the cream cheese, sugar mixture, and vanilla extract. Beat on low speed until smooth, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Add the eggs, one at a time, at low speed, beating well (about 30 seconds) after each addition. Add the whipping cream and beat, on low speed, until incorporated. Carefully pour the filling into the pan, smoothing the top with the back of a spoon or offset spatula.

Bake for about 40 to 45 or until the top of the cheesecake is a deep golden brown. The edges of the cheesecake will be just set, the center of the cheesecake will still look a little wet, and if you gently shake the pan the cheesecake will jiggle. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. This cheesecake can be served warm, at room temperature, or chilled. Leftovers can be covered and stored in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days. Or it can be frozen.

To freeze: Place the cooled cheesecake on a baking pan and freeze, uncovered, until firm. Then wrap in foil and place in a freezer bag or container. Seal and return to freezer. Can be frozen for several months. Thaw uncovered cheesecake in the refrigerator overnight.

Makes one - 9 inch (23 cm) cheesecake.

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Basque Cheesecake Recipe:

Freshly grated zest (outer yellow skin) from one lemon (optional)

1 1/4 cups (250 grams) granulated white sugar

3 tablespoons (27 grams) all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon (3 grams) fine kosher salt

32 ounces (900 grams) full fat cream cheese, at room temperature

1 1/2 teaspoons (6 grams) pure vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste

5 large eggs (250 grams out of shell), at room temperature

1 cup (240 ml/grams) heavy whipping cream, at room temperature (cream with a 35-40% butterfat content)

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