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Basque Burnt Cheesecake

La Vina Cheesecake Recipe

If La Vina restaurant in San Sebastian serves something other than cheesecake, I wouldn’t know about it. The moment I walked in I zeroed in on a wall of caramel colored, parchment-enveloped rounds lining the back wall and I was blind to all else. Chris and I saddled up to the bar, ordered a slice, took one bite and fell into silence. What kind of sorcery was this? Who sold their soul to have the rules of gravity lifted thereby allowing something so rich to be so feathery? Of course, I asked the barman for the recipe.

And of course he declined. “We don’t give recipe,” he said.

“Then can you tell me what kind of cheese is in it?” I asked.

“Ilidelheea,” he said.

La Vina Cheesecake recipe

Ah, so that explains it. Some local, small-batch, Basque dairy farmer must supply the restaurant with his nuanced, ethereal and impossible-to-find-anywhere-else-but-here product. I asked the barman to write it down for me so I could at least find the cheese and taste it on its own.

The grabbed a napkin and scrawled in all capitols: F.I.L.I.D.E.L.F.I.A.

He looked at me like I was an idiot and walked away. I took a sip of my sherry, and turn my attention back to my second slice of cake.

La Vina Cheesecake Recipe

Lucky for you, my sweet tooth is nearly as strong as my ability to search the back alleys of the internet for recipes that never wanted to be found. I baked several variations claiming to be the one and only from La Vina and, after making a few adjustments, I think this version is pretty close. The souffle-like texture is there, the caramelized crust is there, the rich flavor is there and – the best part – it makes ample use of Philadelphia Cream Cheese, that globally-ubiquitous product we all know and love.

Basque Burnt Cheesecake

1kg Philadelphia cream cheese

1  3/4c castor sugar

7 whole eggs

2c double cream or heavy whipping cream

1/4c flour

Preheat oven to 425 F. Grease a 23cm spring-form pan and line with parchment paper, making sure the paper comes at least three inches above the top of the pan.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, making sure to scrape the sides of the bowl a few times. Pour in the double cream and mix until incorporated. Fold in the flour with a rubber spatula.

Pour batter into the prepared pan and place into the center of the oven. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until the top is deeply golden and the center barely jiggles. Let cool completely before removing the sides of the pan.


  1. Aunt Chrissy says:

    Yes, bless you for this. Of course I’ll have to postpone my annual physical until all the cholesterol and sugar leave my body. I’m thinking two years should be adequate. Darn it!

  2. Owensmom says:

    Looks magnificent! But what is castor sugar? Hopefully a sugar that takes all the fat out of the other ingredients !

  3. Janet Koren says:

    I’ve used this recipe for 5 years, thanks to Emily Monaco. I’ve made only 2 adjustments: I eliminated one yolk and added 1 tsp of vanilla. Sometimes it takes longer than an hour. My brother begs me to make this every year for his birthday. And every year, I return to San Sabastián and to La Viña to enjoy the original.

  4. Jacki says:

    I loved the cheesecake at La Vina. The story about the type of cheese used had me in tears. Hilarious! Does your recipe really call for 1 kg (2.2 lbs) of cream cheese?

  5. Tracy says:

    I would love to try your recipe, as I have had the original and would love to make my own. Can you give the cup measurement in grams please – even approximate would be great.

    • Andrea Duty says:

      Hi Heidi, It may be that your oven runs hot, or that the air isn’t circulated. You might try tenting a piece of foil loosely over the top of the pan, which will keep it from burning. But the cakes at La Vina do have some charred flecks, so a bit of color is a good thing! Good luck and thanks so much for commenting!

  6. Meghan Christian says:

    I was in San Sebastian last year had the memorable experience of eating Cheesecake at La Vina. I asked guy what kind of cheese was in it as well and could not understand what he said. He repeated it several times then looked at my friends and I as if we were idiots. We went back for the cheesecake every night and it has changed the way I view all cheesecakes. I going to try your recipe tomorrow!! Thank you for sharing.

  7. Avril Daniels says:

    This restaurant is now on our ‘must go to’ place every visit to San Sebastien, its like a pilgrimage, with us taking new converts each time. The first time was a revelation. Thanks so much for this blog and love the way you identified the cheese.

  8. Rose Ardanaz says:

    We were just in San Sebastián, and walked into this tapa bar as well. One bite and we were in love with it

  9. fi and col says:

    Oh my god! We are in San Seb now and have just returned from LaVina at lunchtime and straight away googled this recipe as we were stunned by how good this was. We dont do dessert at all! But the guys told us that we had to try a piece as it was the best cheesecake in the world. We laughed. They told us it was the simplest thing to cook and gave us a business card with a website address and said we would find the recipe there. It was a video in Spanish ??. We are so grateful to you for putting this up. Looking forward to enjoying theirs a few more times before we leave and then putting the recipe to the test. We will let you know how we go. Thanks again. Cheers

  10. Iris Jakosalem says:

    Best cheesecake ever! We went back for this dessert every single day while we were at San Sebastián! One bite of La Viña’s famous cheesecake and we were in love with it! I can hardly wait to try making one of these in my own kitchen (laboratory). Knowing the amount of cream cheese used is a non-issue; that’s how good it is!

  11. Iris Jakosalem says:

    I finally baked this luscious cheesecake today, and it was a raving success!! Burnt just right and silky smooth to the taste. Plus my kitchen smelled quite heavenly! I wish I could send a photo of my masterpiece! Thank you so much for this recipe!!

  12. Leslie says:

    Thank you very much for posting this recipe! My husband and I have been dreaming of La Vina cheesecake for the past three months, since we returned home from San Sebastian. I made it, it turned out beautifully (love the hard edges, and the “burnt” caramel-y flavor) and we thoroughly enjoyed it. I think next time, I will try substituting some of the Philadelphia cream cheese with mascarpone…perhaps that will give it a bit of the “filidelfia” dimension? You are kind to share your creation.

  13. Jess says:

    Mine burnt a bit too much so will have to try a lower oven temp and maybe some foil next time but took me right back to San Sebastián with every silky bite. Has anyone tried having the recipe with success …. it makes SO much!

  14. Natalie says:

    I love this cake! Thank you so much. I have made it several times now, as its a constant request from family and friends.
    Question, does anyone know if this can be baked as mini cheesecakes in say, medium muffin tins?

  15. Shari Pilaria says:

    I just watched the viideo a friend bought at La Vina on how to make this – so glad to find this after spending time trying to translate what the heck the cheese is !!!!

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