A couple weeks ago — back when I was in the middle of hosting the cousins, to be precise — one of my blog readers (hey, Candi Ray!) sent me an email with a link about, of all things, a burnt cheesecake.
“I hope this piques your interest,” she wrote.
It did (of course!) and, ignoring my sniffly nose and the hoards of children and the fact that I was already up to my eyeballs in cooking, I immediately trotted out to the kitchen to make it.
Because see, when someone sends you a recipe for a cheesecake that 1) doesn’t call for a crust, 2) has only five ingredients (and salt is one of them), 3) skips the water bath, and 4) takes mere minutes to bake (er, burn), you move.
At first, I couldn’t tell if I liked the cheesecake or not. It was entirely different from any cheesecake I’d ever had; plus, I’d overeaten that day, and my cold had compromised my tastebuds. So when I gave my husband a small sliver, I watched him closely. He ate it, silently, as is his custom, but a little later when I asked him what he’d thought, his face lit up. “That cake was divine.”
Divine, dear ones, is not a word my husband uses — ever.
The next morning, freshly hungry and semi-clear-eyed, I ate another slice.
My thoughts: Much less sweet (though it has about the same amount, if not more, sugar) and with no crust, sour cream garnish, or fruit sauce — no vanilla, even! — to muck up the flavors and texture, this cake is strictly about the cheese. The bitterness from the burnt top (which isn’t entirely burned) pairs well with the cake’s rich creaminess, and the creaminess, oh my! Intentionally underbaked, the cake’s middle is soft (like mine!), not unlike a wheel of slightly-warmed Brie.
In other words, it is divine.
All the kids went nuts for it, pleading and begging for seconds and thirds.
My mother, though, turned up her nose. “I don’t like the burned top,” she announced, stabbing it with her fork. “It gives it a weird flavor.”
“It’s the same idea as crème brûlée—”
“It’s nothing like crème brûlée,” she said, cutting me off. (It is.) “And actually,” she paused to shovel in another mouthful, “the whole thing has a weird flavor.”
But then, wouldn’t you know: her piece eaten, she pushed her plate across the table to me. “Can I have another piece?”
Which clearly means you have no choice but to make the cake for yourself so you can decide what you think.
So trot along, now. Go burn a cheesecake.
You know you want to.
Adapted from Taste, an online magazine, via blog reader Candi Ray.
To get my cake to puff and darken according to the recipe photos, I baked it a good ten minutes longer than what was recommended; as a result, the edges seemed a little dry. Maybe, if I crank up the oven even more, I can shorten the bake time, keep the edges from drying out, and have an even creamier middle?
1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) cream cheese, room temperature
400 grams (approx 2 cups maybe?) sugar
1 teaspoon salt
200 milliliters (a generous ¾ cup) heavy whipping cream
Cream together the cream cheese, sugar, and salt until smooth. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Add the cream and mix well.
Pour the mixture into a parchment paper-lined 10-inch springform pan (it’s okay that the paper doesn’t sit smooth in the pan) and bake at 500 degrees for 20-30 minutes, or until the cake has puffed, the top is darkdark brown, and the center jiggles dangerously.
Cool at room temperature and then refrigerate.