Chocolate Basque Cheesecake

Images and recipes by Fiona Hugues

I made my usual vanilla Basque cheesecake a few years ago and it was photographed as part of a festive editorial for a national magazine. I won’t name the publication, as the readers, I imagine, are much akin to the legendary readers of UK Horse & Hound, opinionated, unbudgingly fuddy, quite proper and easily offended (and it may bite me in the bum, just like their fussily groomed miniature Schnauzers). Anyway, my cake back then was perfectly dark, but alas, to those with no pinings for pinxtos or much Spanish culinary nous at all, it looked burnt to buggery. And so it was shoved to the end of the spread, small and unfortunate, like some unavoidable, shameful, overcooked embarrassment.

Fast forward to now and the basic blackened Basque is found in many a Mediterranean-esque establishment across the motu. The deliberately burnt-top combination of vanilla, cream cheese, eggs, cream, sugar and flour most probably these days pops into the chintz-lined mahogany dining rooms of my critics and I’m happy for them, I am. Gratefully I’ve since got over my woes and moved on, so here’s my swankier version for now, smacked full of chocolate for je ne sais quois, dark and mysterious,  hopefully now she’ll get the page real estate she deserves.

Keep in the fridge for a few days (if it lasts that long) and always serve at room temperature with copius amounts of fluffy whipped cream dusted in cocoa powder.

NOTE – These days I try to eliminate as many of the inevitable variables with recipe sharing so weigh most of my solid ingredients. With a digital set of scales on your bench you can whack out recipes tout suite without all that faffing about with measuring cups.

650g cream cheese
300g dark chocolate
1 tsp espresso powder dissolved in 1 tbsp hot water
4 large free range eggs
300ml fresh cream
280g caster sugar
1½ tbsp cocoa powder
1 tbsp plain flour

Grease and line a 25cm springform tin. Preheat oven to 180°C fan bake.

Place cream cheese in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat until smooth and creamy. While it’s beating, melt the chocolate (I zap mine in the microwave for 1 minute then let it sit for 2–3 minutes before stirring together). Stir the dissolved espresso powder into the chocolate. Add this to the cream cheese and beat in until combined.

Add the eggs one at a time until incorporated.

Mix together the cream, sugar, cocoa and flour. Add this to the cream cheese mixture and beat until smooth.

Pour into prepared tin and bake for a little over an hour or until its wobbly in the middle and the top is dark and shiny.

Set aside to cool, then cover and chill.

Serve on a pretty plate dusted with cocoa and plenty of whipped cream on the side.

Add a few berries or bits of seasonal fruit, only if you’re feeling virtuous.



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