Japanese melty iceboox cheesecake
I’m sitting here, struggling with how best to explain to you all why this Japanese version of the burnt basque cheesecake is superior than the original in every single way possible, mentally auditioning all the angles I could cut into this subject that I think is going to change the way you think about cheesecakes in general. How it’s possibly the easiest cheesecake your kitchen-incompetence will ever behold… how it has complexities in its flavors that reminds me of a caramel flan… how its play between temperature and texture is brilliant… how the outer layer is rich yet airy while the center remains creamy and gooey, melting almost instantly around the heat of my tongue… A R-rated story on how cheesecake and ice cream had a baby? I considered that, too.
But it dawned on me that these are all just supporting facts, facts that you will witness, I’ve no doubt, as soon as you make one yourself in your kitchen. What really stands in between you and making this cake is not the certainties, no. It is the doubt, one single doubt really, the only elephant that needs to be removed first and swiftly before everything else could just fall into place. Because I know what you’re all thinking. Here, I’ll say it with you.
Isn’t this just an undercooked mistake?
No, no it is not. It is fucking not.
Is soft-boiled egg a mistake?
There. I don’t know how much simpler I could put it.
Now, welcome to the only cheesecake you’ll ever bake for the rest of your life.
if cheesecake and ice cream had a baby.
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- 1 lb (450 grams) cream cheese
- 2/3 cup (140 grams) granulated sugar
- 2 tbsp (30 grams) Greek yogurt
- 1/2 vanilla bean, split and seeded
- 3 large eggs + 2 egg yolks
- 3/4 cup (180 grams) heavy cream
- 1/2 heaping tsp fine sea salt
- 1/4 cup (32 grams) all-purpose flour
- Preheat the oven on 435 F/225 C, fan-on if available. In a stand-mixer with paddle attachment, beat cream cheese, granulated sugar and Greek yogurt, seeds from 1/2 vanilla beans on medium-high speed, scraping once in between, until extremely smooth, lump-free and silky, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the eggs and yolks all at once, and beat on low speed for 15 seconds, scrape once, and beat for another 15 seconds just until the eggs are evenly incorporated. Careful not to over-beat the eggs that it becomes "fluffy". We don't want an airy batter. Add heavy cream and sea salt, and beat for another 15 seconds just until even. Sift the flour into the batter, and beat again on low for 15 to 20 seconds until even. Remove the bowl and scrape and fold the batter with a spatula to make sure everything is smoothly mixed, set aside.
- Butter the insides of a 7"/18 cm springform cake-pan (so the parchment sticks well to the pan). Cut a parchment paper into a circle the same size as the diameter of the pan, and line the bottom of the pan. Then line the sides of the pan with parchment paper that is twice the height of the pan. Pour the batter into the pan, then cut the side-parchment down so it's 75% taller than the batter (not double). Firmly tap the pan a few times to eliminate large air bubbles, place it on a small baking-sheet and set on the lower 1/3 rack of the oven.
- Bake for 15 minutes, then turn the baking-sheet 180 degrees, and bake for another 10 minutes. Turn off the oven at this point, opening the door for 30 seconds to lower the oven temperature, then close it and let the cake sit inside the oven for another 5 minutes. The exterior of the cake should be deeply browned, burnt almost, but still jiggly in the center. Let the cake cool slightly on the counter for 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, clear a level in the freezer to allow generous room for the cake pan and set a pot holder/heat matt inside. Transfer the cake-pan into the freezer (don'y worry the hot pan won't break your freezer) and freeze for 3 hours. Remove the cake from the pan and parchment papers and serve, or you can keep individual slices frozen and let sit in room-temperature for 30 minutes before serving.
* UPDATE NOV 1/2019: A few feedbacks are saying that their cake did not brown as deeply in their oven as mine. If your oven tends to under-brown or under-heat, I would suggest baking the cake at 240~250C/465~500F (which is the highest most home oven goes). Also, try trimming the parchment paper lower so the batter is exposed more. If your baking pan is of a different size, you may have to adjust the temperature/timing a bit, too.
JavierOctober 30, 2019 at 11:21 PM
It’s raw. In Spain they have called the best cheesecake one that is also raw, and they call it “creaminess”. But it is raw.
Heather RenjenJune 1, 2020 at 10:18 PM
I’ve been trying, without full satisfaction, to make this style of cheesecake. Thankfully I have a friend with 3 grown-ish kids at home to help test the efforts, so that I am not stuck eating my fails….otherwise they’re going to have to cut me out of my house when this fucking pandemic is over.
Question: what is your preferred brand of cream cheese for making this cheesecake? I have used Philadelphia and Gina Marie–very different in their texture. Philadelphia is very dense and I consider it processed; I would never normally have this on hand. Gina Marie is crumbly, until you mix it a bit, then it takes on a nice spreadable consistency. The flavor is light, creamy and buttery; I consider it superior to Philadelphia in every way. However, in past recipes I have read that Philadelphia is a must.
Please weigh in.
mandy@ladyandpupsJune 2, 2020 at 1:49 PM
Heather, I did use cream cheese similar to Philadelphia (even though diff brand). I’ve never used any other kind so I’m not sure of the difference :)
ClarisseOctober 30, 2019 at 11:33 PM
Is it possible to make this the day before we are supposed to serve it and keep the cheesecake whole (i.e. not slice it and freeze)?
mandy@ladyandpupsOctober 31, 2019 at 12:26 AM
Clarisse, yes! Slices just thaw faster but you can let the whole cake sit at room-temp for 1 or 1:30 hour before serving
ClarisseMay 19, 2020 at 3:58 PM
I finally made the cheesecake after months in quarantine. My oven couldn’t get as hot as I wanted. I set it at 250 Celsius with fan. The top isn’t evenly brown but it did turn a splotchy brown. Waiting for the cake to come out of the freezer now.
HelenOctober 31, 2019 at 2:51 AM
This almost reminds me of a delicious antithesis to the bouncy/jiggly/souffle Japanese cheesecake – where this one is sunken, concentrated, silky, the other has risen, bouncy, and airy. Any recommendations for cooking time/recipe changes if I have a 6″ spring form pan?
mandy@ladyandpupsOctober 31, 2019 at 1:22 PM
Helen, I would do one just as instructed first because it’s not a huge difference :)
CharmaineNovember 8, 2019 at 9:12 PM
Hi Helen, I’ve got the same situation here where I only have a 6″ pan- would love to hear how yours turned out and whether any adjustments need to be made!
jennOctober 31, 2019 at 4:38 AM
Can vanilla extract be used instead of the bean?
mandy@ladyandpupsOctober 31, 2019 at 1:23 PM
Jenn, yes, 1/2 tsp.
ChrisOctober 31, 2019 at 5:54 AM
Hmm…I’m working from home today. My last attempt at a Japanese cheesecake was truly horrifying so perhaps I’ll be ‘working’ on one of these too..
ChrisOctober 31, 2019 at 5:35 PM
Made it. Mine didn’t turn out quite the amazing dark mahogany colour of yours on top, but it’s still stunning. I served it to a self-confessed ‘cheesecake snob’ friend from the US and she reckons it’s up there with the best she’s ever had. Thanks for the amazing recipe.
mandy@ladyandpupsOctober 31, 2019 at 5:59 PM
Chris, then I would suggest using 240C/465F next time! The “burnt” surface is what gives it that caramel flan taste :)
ChrisNovember 8, 2019 at 12:34 PM
Second version was much closer to the mark. Thanks. It’s all gone too so I’m making no.3 tonight and keeping it frozen for Christmas
Al TOctober 16, 2020 at 1:07 PM
Why does it have to be put in the freezer?
mandy@ladyandpupsOctober 16, 2020 at 1:43 PM
AI T, I just like it really cold and melts in the mouth ;)
Peter DavisOctober 31, 2019 at 6:13 PM
After the 25 minutes at 225c the cheesecake was barely browned around the edges and possibly ‘overcooked’ in the middle. Hopefully it turns out ok after freezing!
mandy@ladyandpupsNovember 1, 2019 at 1:14 AM
Peter, the exterior is not browned but the center is cooked? Strange. Did you use a different size pan?
MiaNovember 2, 2019 at 11:36 PM
This cake looks amazing, I can’t wait to try baking it! I’m interested to know the story behind this Japanese version of the burnt Basque cheesecake though. How did it come to be?
sherryNovember 5, 2019 at 3:24 PM
you say 225C with fan on but this makes it more like 245C (without the fan) as the fan increases the heat by about 20 degrees. so do you mean 225C or 245C? thanks sherry and Yum to japanese foods!! perhaps this is why people have been having problems with cooking it.:-) I think it’s not quite clear what you mean about the temp. cheers S
mandy@ladyandpupsNovember 6, 2019 at 1:01 PM
Sherry, I did use 225C fan-on, but I didn’t know that makes such a big difference! so I guess for oven without fans, it would have to be 245C :)
KanuNovember 24, 2019 at 7:22 PM
I don’t quite understand the fourth step. If I would want to freeze slices do I slice it before freezing? Or cut after freezing, which would be hard to do? Cheers
mandy@ladyandpupsNovember 24, 2019 at 9:27 PM
Kanu, yes slice before freezing :)
ChristinaNovember 27, 2019 at 4:29 AM
Hi! I don’t have a stand mixer. With some patience and elbow grease, would this recipe come together by hand?
mandy@ladyandpupsNovember 27, 2019 at 1:51 PM
Christina, a lotta arm workout but yes I guess is the answer ;)
BRNovember 28, 2019 at 11:12 PM
This recipe was fantastic! Do you have any suggestions on figuring out how to adapt it for a 9” springform?
mandy@ladyandpupsNovember 29, 2019 at 1:44 AM
BR, Not really any solid advice but to say you’ll need to do some simple math to adjust the amount of batter, and I would suggest adding 5 min more to the cooking time just for the first try.
sherryJanuary 4, 2020 at 9:33 AM
sorry to be a pain Mandy, but if you have a bigger pan than the recipe calls for, you need to DEcrease the cooking time, as the batter will be thinner. happy new year. sherry
mandy@ladyandpupsJanuary 4, 2020 at 12:58 PM
Amy HDecember 3, 2019 at 3:53 AM
I have springform pans that says it can only heat up to 400F degrees. :( Any suggestions?
mandy@ladyandpupsDecember 5, 2019 at 6:09 PM
Amy, hm, don’t use that lol.
AmyDecember 17, 2019 at 5:58 AM
Haha, true. Would I cook it longer and then broil it to get the top that caramel flan flavor/look?
mandy@ladyandpupsDecember 17, 2019 at 12:13 PM
Oh boy I don’t know. I think it’s best to switch pan lol.
JeremyAugust 15, 2020 at 10:34 PM
I’ve just made it, and the answer is yes! I used 200C for 15min, broiled for 5min, then back to 200C fan forced for 5 min
AnaJanuary 4, 2020 at 2:44 AM
Hi Mandy! Ive just made it and it is DELICIOUS. Thanks for sharing this yummy recipe ?. I have a question, why is it best to keep it in the freezer instead of the fridge. Thanks!
mandy@ladyandpupsJanuary 4, 2020 at 1:00 PM
Ana, I’d you don’t want to defrost every time you eat it then in the Coldest part of the fridge. But if you want to keep it for longer then in the freezer :)
Asma SheikhJanuary 13, 2020 at 2:52 AM
This looks interesting and I never tried this type cake before. Going to try it soon and hope it will be a fantastic experience.
BRJanuary 14, 2020 at 4:11 AM
Another question: is it crazy to put the cake in the freezer for 30-45 minutes prior to baking to ensure a perfectly raw/creamy interior all the way through, sort of like searing a piece of tuna or a steak?
mandy@ladyandpupsJanuary 14, 2020 at 12:44 PM
BR, never tried but I guess theoretically it could work lol.
Andrea Tan (@meristemdrea)March 6, 2020 at 12:41 PM
Hey Mandy! Not sure if I over cooked mine a little or if my eggs were too big? The consistency was a little thick, less fluid than I thought it’d be. And also a little less custards and more pudding-like, strangely!
mandy@ladyandpupsMarch 6, 2020 at 1:52 PM
Andrea, I’m not sure what’s wrong. But the cake isn’t custards nor pudding like, but more like airy cheesecake.
rachel HenryApril 23, 2020 at 4:40 PM
Hi Mandy, love the thought of eating this once i succeed, i only have one big problem – i only have 4″inch springform cake rounds (2″inches high). Any recommendation on cook times, and temperatures for this?
ANGELAMay 23, 2020 at 4:23 AM
If I switched out the flour for almond flour, do you know how that would change the texture? Or if that can even work? Thank you
mandy@ladyandpupsMay 23, 2020 at 7:02 PM
Angela, I don’t think you can completely substitute w almond flour because it doesn’t absorb moisture but again I haven’t tried so not 100%sure
CindyJune 5, 2020 at 10:42 AM
I would like to ask can I use president whipping cream(35.1%fat) to substitute heavy cream?
mandy@ladyandpupsJune 5, 2020 at 1:45 PM
Cindy, yes you can :)
JaneJune 5, 2020 at 7:26 PM
Best cheesecake of our lives (my husband loves cheesecakes and I do not)…we both declare this is the best one e.v.e.r
heatherJune 7, 2020 at 10:16 AM
Getting closer: I’ve made 2 or 3 other burnt cheesecake recipes during this quarantine. None satisfied the way I expected, based on the description of what my end result was meant to be. This recipe has gotten me closer than any of those; I made it twice today!
Round one I was able to get a slightly soft middle, but not the beautiful deep color which has eluded me in prior efforts.
Round two, mahogany gloriousness! I boosted the temp in my oven as suggested to 500. I was also mindful to keep the parchment collar just an inch+ above the pan edge. The color was perfect, just like in the pictures! The darkest bits reminiscent of a well toasted marshmallow. However, the middle, while not overdone by typical cheesecake standards, was definitely not gooey. Moment of silence. Sigh.
Here is where I failed: I didn’t have the correct size pan. Boo. I had only an 8.5″ pan and that simply had to do. This made for a thinner cake and I’m certain that is why the center cooked too much. Having dabbled with other burnt cheesecake recipes, I feel that this recipe has me on the right track.
Meanwhile I have placed an order for a 7″ springform and will be making this again as soon as it arrives.
micahcabralJune 16, 2020 at 11:12 PM
Where do you get your recipes?
WidyawatiJuly 3, 2020 at 5:00 PM
Hi how to ensure that the middle part is gooey and remain gooey after hours of baking?
widyaDecember 31, 2020 at 4:46 PM
For those whose ovens don’t get hot enough, a quick fix solution (for me at least) was to have the tray racked in the upper third of the oven (so just below the heating element. It browned up nicely, and when it was time to turn the cake tin round at the half way mark, I just lowered the rack to the middle. I didn’t meddle with the tin size, temperature, etc, and got fantastic results with this recipe :) thank you so much for this!
MaryJanuary 22, 2021 at 5:02 PM
Each to his/her own, but for me Basque cheesecake, and especially the Japanese version, is just an inferior eggy version of a classic dessert.
I live in Japan and in recent years it’s become a fixture on cafe menus everywhere, but I’m convinced the main reason is because managers want to save on costs. It’s quite common for people here to substitute ingredients and make cheap versions of Western food when things like cheese, appropriate biscuits/cookies (in the case of cheesecakes with crusts), butter, and other typically “Western” ingredients are not widely available (the same way people in the West make cheap versions of Asian food by substituting ingredients).
poppyxcheskaApril 1, 2021 at 9:58 AM
Mary.. wait.. Huh? The Basque cheesecake was invented in Basque, Spain. I’m convinced the main reason why it’s a hit in Japan, as is with many other countries, is because it’s delicious and there is demand for it, not because managers want to cut costs. It would be a strange economic phenomenon if cafes can tell their customers what they can order? That’s really not how the world works.
KimFebruary 14, 2021 at 11:47 AM
Wonderful cheesecake to add to my recipe box. It is cheesecake, ice cream, flan, and pure deliciousness all in one slice. To be honest, I was intimated by how dark mine got but was relieved after I cut into it and saw the creamy melty interior just below the crust. Thank you for this recipe!
Anthony MokMay 29, 2021 at 11:00 PM
Hello! I have been trying to get the gooey centre after taking it out from the freezer. I have tried and followed the recipe three times. Is there something crucial that I might be missing?
mandy@ladyandpupsMay 30, 2021 at 2:56 AM
Hi Anthony, you mean your center of the cake is too solid?
Anthony MokMay 30, 2021 at 10:00 AM
Not really, center of the cake is quite soft after thawing for about 30min. However, i had doubts if i followed the recipe right because i have always been cutting the cake after letting it sit in the freezer and have yet to get a gooey centre.
mandy@ladyandpupsMay 30, 2021 at 2:24 PM
Hm I’m not sure I understand the issue, sorry. So you’d like the center to be softer?
Anthony MokMay 31, 2021 at 9:51 PM
Not exactly, trying find out if the cake should still be gooey/raw(?) after you let it thaw at room temperature for 30 min or longer. But currently the centre is quite soft so I was wondering if I should readjust my oven settings.
mandy@ladyandpupsJune 1, 2021 at 1:28 AM
Ok, I think as long as it’s not runny it’s fine.
HeatherMay 30, 2021 at 4:45 PM
Anthony—let the frozen slice sit at room temp for 10 ish minutes and you’ll find the center gets soft. That is if you can wait that long
sherryMay 30, 2021 at 5:26 PM
okay i’m confused. why does the cheesecake go from the oven into the freezer for 3 hours? is it then meant to come back to room temp.? what’s the purpose please? it doesn’t make much sense to me. the whole freezing thing is not explained!!
mandy@ladyandpupsMay 31, 2021 at 1:05 AM
Sherry, this cake is supposed to be eaten cold, almost like an ice cream cake.
EdSeptember 10, 2021 at 11:39 AM
I’m trying to make the center gooey while I cut it. But every time it comes out of the freezer it is not gooey. Should I not freeze it?
mandy@ladyandpupsSeptember 10, 2021 at 1:50 PM
Ed, maybe it was frozen too hard? You could try chilling in the fridge, too.
EdSeptember 11, 2021 at 7:05 AM
I’m baking in a 6in pan and I’ve done the conversions. What temp and time do you recommend baking at? It seems like the cheesecake is over cooked or the inside is curdled. Any advice?
mandy@ladyandpupsSeptember 11, 2021 at 1:59 PM
Ed, the temp in the recipe works for me but you can always lower yours by 10 degree Celsius at a time to see how different the cake turns out. It’s hard to say exactly from my end since every oven is kinda different.
guillermoDecember 28, 2021 at 4:59 PM
Incidentally, this cheesecake is also known in Spain as “Zuberoa style”. Zuberoa is the name of the restaurant of chef Hilario Arbelaitz in the Basque Country. There is a tale about this cheesecake: it´s Bruce Springsteen favorite.
Linda LuuJanuary 14, 2022 at 10:42 AM
Greetings from Vancouver,
I’m trying to make this for dinner the next day. Should I follow all the steps, freeze for 3 hrs and then refrigerate or should I just keep it in the freezer until I serve it the next day (12 hours later)? What do you suggest Mandy?
mandy@ladyandpupsJanuary 14, 2022 at 12:30 PM
Linda, keep it frozen and take it out a couple hours before serving.