While head chef Carlos Montobbio has perfected a version that boasts a delicate tart shell, he shares with us a crust-free recipe that any home baker can master
Given the island’s long-time love affair with the cheesecake, it’s no surprise the burnt Basque variation has over the last few months of staying and staying safe re-emerged as the must-have confection. One reason for that is its appeal even among those who don’t have a particularly sweet tooth. This is exactly the case with Esquina’s head chef Carlos Montobbio. “But I really do enjoy doing desserts,” the Barcelona native asserts. “So, I really like that this cheesecake is very well-balanced between savoury and sweet, hence it doesn’t fill me up as fast as a very sweet dessert does.”
His version is in fact a top-selling item on the restaurant’s months-old takeaway menu, and it's just as popular as its paella and croquetas. That also means he has been making plenty of it on a daily basis. “It used to be one of my favourite things to eat, but because we do so many of it every day and I taste every cheesecake mix we do, I am having enough of it,” he jokes.
This recipe for the filling, he explains, is similar to the version Restaurante Zuberoa created some 20 years ago. “They use only San Millán cream cheese and roquefort, but I decided to replace these with gorgonzola and Fourme d'Ambert, as they have a more delicate flavour and the mascarpone gives it a fluffier texture," he explains, adding that like Zuberoa, Esquina’s burnt cheesecake features a delicate sablé tart shell. “But it’s easier for home cooks to do without it,” he muses.
While it’s no substitute for Montobbio’s deftly-made burnt cheesecake, he has generously shared a crust-free version you can have a go at making it at home.
Basque Burnt Cheesecake
By Esquina's Carlos Montobbio
210g Philadelphia cream cheese
375g heavy cream (35% milk fat)
65g Fourme d’Ambert (French blue cheese)
30g gorgonzola dolce
5g sea salt
1. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl with a spatula, wrap the bowl and leave it at room temperature for one hour.
2. Put the mixture in a Thermomix and blend at top speed for one minute. You can use a regular blender or even a handheld option, but the resulting texture won’t be as good. Taste and add salt if needed.
3. Prepare a baking pan (or oven-safe mould) and wrap the inside with parchment paper making sure it covers all sides of the pan to the top. This recipe uses a pan measuring 21cm in diameter and 4cm in height.
4. Pour the mixture in, it should fill 90 per cent of the pan.
5. Position the pan on the middle rack of a preheated oven at 210 degrees C (with fan assistance) and bake for 16 min. If the oven doesn’t have a fan function, rotate the pan midway through the baking process.
6. When ready, it should still be a bit liquid in the centre. You can check this by shaking the tray gently, the surface should jiggle a little. Leave it set at room temperature for at least two hours and it is ready to eat. It can be left at room temperature for up to 8 hours, after which it needs to be refrigerated.