Most desserts that make the internet are either modern creations, such as the cotton candy milkshake or the reverse engineered cronut.
This is the newest sweet that has captured Americans’ attention. It is also almost three decades old. It isn’t even very attractive to look at.
Basque country crustless cheesecake is now popular in the U.S. It’s basically a cheesecake with textural twists such as singed edges or a gooey center.
Basque cheesecake might look like a failed home-ec project, with its cratered, blotchy and scorched exterior, but it’s the “Shrek factor,” that makes it so captivating. It’s hard to imagine that the center of the cheesecake would bubble lazily like Epoisses or that its puffy edges would melt on your tongue as much as cotton candy. Its caramelized brown corners would be so addictive, you wouldn’t have predicted.
The idea for the cake came from La Vina, a local pintxos joint in Spain’s San Sebastian. Although the region has a long history of love for custards it didn’t create this creamy dessert until La Vina. It has cream cheese, eggs, cream and sugar. Depending on who you ask, flour. This bar uses Philadelphia cream cheese, which was relatively new in the Basque region of the 1970s and loved by locals.
Santiago Rivera, the owner of the company, said that they began recipe testing after mixing ideas from different cookbooks. He spoke to La Vanguardia in Catalan, a newspaper. The oven was 400F, and the winner emerged triumphant. The crust was so well toasted that everyone couldn’t miss it. It was 29 years ago that the restaurant made one to two cheesecakes per day for a mostly local customer. Today, the average turnout is 20. The bar area could as well be the UN’s floor. Note to potential cheesecake pilgrims, La Vina is currently undergoing renovations through the spring.
A few glowing articles made La Vina national famous a decade back. Slowly, Basque cheesecake became global. It was first popularized in Asia, especially in Japan, Turkey and Malaysia. In September, a list of seven places that offer burnt cheesecake in Kuala Lumpur, was published.
Rivera was approached by large-scale investors from Korea businessmen to Emirati sheikhs. However, he refused to accept the offer to expand La Vina internationally. Although burnt cheesecake has been popularized on many continents, the best place to taste it is Rivera’s 60-year-old bar.
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