The True Story Behind Burnt Basque Cheesecake—and the Pintxo Bar That Created It

You’re going to retire?!

Oh yes.


In two years.

Well, let’s talk a little bit about the burnt Basque cheesecake. Tell me more about the origin story.

I used to do tests in the kitchen. I would come to the kitchen on Mondays when the bar was closed. I started doing tests with a recipe from one of my books. Looking at different recipes, I made combinations, mixing and comparing the results of all of them. I was testing lots of different things, like a chocolate mousse, a white and dark chocolate cake, mango creams… I worked on them a lot. Pintxos, too, because this is a pintxo bar, after all. At the time, you don’t know, you’re doing what you’re doing to make the establishment better, but you don’t know which dish will be more important than the others—your clients tell you that.

Cecilia Alvarez-Hevia Arias

Cecilia Alvarez-Hevia Arias

In my upcoming pintxo book, you told me the cheesecake was ‘born’ in 1988. Is that right?

Yes, a year or so after I started working with my family. My father was funny, he said about the cheesecake, “Santi, that thing you made, don’t ever stop making it.”

When you started making the cheesecake, what cheese did you use? The one you use now?

No, now we use a different one. At the time, we used quark-style cheese, and that was really good, too. I remember taking the car after lunch service and driving around to look for different cheeses at the shops and supermarkets. At one point, I was doing a mixture of cheese until I finally found a cream cheese that I thought gave a good result. We used one brand for a while, then another gave me a discount, and we changed brands. And the cheesecake was even better! You have to adapt to where you are; that’s the secret.

Cecilia Alvarez-Hevia Arias