In a city known for its food, for a dish to stand out, it has to be something special. So when a dessert – a cheesecake, to be more specific – becomes world-renowned, you know it’s going to be good.
San Sebastián has a foodie reputation unlike any other city. Every big chef has eaten here, and every die-hard food-lover wants to come here (if they haven’t already).
In this food mecca, however, there is one particular dessert that stands above the rest.
And that, is the cheesecake from La Viña. A cheesecake so perfect and so unique that no other cheesecake will ever quite match up.
La Viña is an unassuming pintxo bar and restaurant in the Old Town neighborhood of Donostia. And they’ve perfected the now famous Basque cheesecake.
The restaurant is always packed with both locals and tourists alike trying to get a coveted piece of the decadent cheesecake – or tarta de queso (as they call it).
The cheesecake is so famous that it’s been written about numerous times and people around the globe have tried to replicate it.
In fact, people who’ve never even tried La Viña’s cheesecake are recreating it at home.
Restaurants around the world are even helping to spread the cheesecake love. For example, Toro Bravo, a tapas restaurant in Portland, Oregon created their own twist on the La Viña cheesecake, with a dessert called Basque Burnt Cheesecake “La Viña”.
Is it the same? Not exactly. Is it good? Definitely!
So what is it about this cheesecake that makes it so special?
For one, it’s crustless. Unlike New York style cheesecake, Basque cheesecake is all filling. The recipe doesn’t call for graham cracker or any other form of cookie crust.
The filling ingredients are mixed together and poured directly into a lined springform pan. It’s then baked at a high heat which leads us to the second big differentiator…
While that may sound off-putting, it’s anything but. The high heat caramelizes the edges, creating a natural crust around the cheesecake. The burnt edges end up toasty and rich – a stark, but complementary difference to the gooey center.
When the cheesecake is finished baking, it will come out rather jiggly. Once cooled, the cake sets creating an interior with an almost flan-like consistency. It’s almost reminiscent of a sweet custard rather than a dense or heavy cheesecake.
So there you have it, one of the best cheesecakes in the world… a cheesecake that is crustless, burnt, and almost flan-like.
It’s sweet, it’s decadent, and it’s addictive.
La Viña’s Basque cheesecake is exceptional. And it only requires 5 ingredients to make!
Courtesy of the kind people at MIMO San Sebastián (an amazing cooking school and experience curator – if you’re visiting, definitely check them out!), here’s exactly how to recreate the magical cheesecake at home.
Pro tip: Do as they do in Basque country and serve your cheesecake with a nice glass of sherry!
La Viña’s Tarta de Queso
Recipe for the famous Basque-style Burnt Cheesecake from La Viña in San Sebastián.
Serves: 8 – 12
Time: 55 minutes
2 ¼ pounds (1 kg) cream cheese, at room temperature
7 medium eggs
2 cups (400g) sugar
1 tablespoon flour
2 cups (½ liter) cream
Preheat oven to 400ºF (200ºC). Line a 9” springform pan with parchment paper, making sure to leave about 3” extra paper above the pan as the cake will rise when baking. The lining doesn’t need to be perfect – a large piece pushed into the pan with creases will give a more rustic look to the cake.
In a large bowl, break the eggs and beat well. Add the cream cheese and mix well. (This can be done with a wooden spoon or a stand mixer.)
Once well combined, add the sugar and mix. Next, mix in the cream, and lastly the flour. Use the wooden spoon or stand mixer to ensure all ingredients are well-combined. You can also use an immersion blender to create an even smoother consistency.
Pour batter into the lined pan, place on the center of a sheet pan, and then place in the oven for 30-40 minutes. Cooking time will vary by oven, but it’s ready to come out when browned and almost burnt looking on top. The cheesecake will still be jiggly when removed, so let sit until cooled and set.
Once cooled, open the springform pan and gently peel back the parchment paper. Slice and serve at room temperature.
>> Have you tried La Viña’s cheesecake? Comment below and tell us what you thought!