What is the difference between New York, Japanese and Basque cheesecake? – She at Table

Published on March 25, 2023 at 4:44 p.m.

Cheesecake with mozzarella, lemon and raspberry coulis

Cheesecake with mozzarella, lemon and raspberry coulis – © Virginie Garnier

Three cheesecakes, three recipes… Which one will you prefer?

The American cheesecake, the original, or almost

Let’s start with the most popular, the American cheesecake. Presumably, it would be an Americanized version of vatrushka, a Russian cottage cheese cake sometimes topped with raisins, the recipe of which was brought by Jewish immigrants from Central Europe to America.
The composition would have evolved over the centuries, including fresh cheese, and removing raisins. The American cheesecake was born.
Today, it consists of a base of crumbled biscuits (usually speculoos or butter biscuits), as well as a cream cheese and egg mixture. The New York version, on the other hand, contains all or part of sour or fresh cream, which makes it denser.
Finally, the cake can finally be baked in the oven at low temperature, before being placed in the refrigerator for several hours, or eaten raw.

The advantage of this cake is that the original recipe is neutral. It is therefore available at will, according to the seasons and the tastes of each person. Replace the base with a cocoa or coconut shortcrust pastry, incorporate whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture for more lightness, flavor it with pistachio, coffee or orange blossom… Everything is possible.

American cheesecake recipe

Mix 300 g of biscuits to reduce them to powder, then mix them with 50 g of melted butter. Line the bottom of a round mold 28 cm in diameter (type cake tin), previously covered with parchment paper. Whip 1 kg of cream cheese with 300 g of sugar. Add 4 eggs, the juice and zest of two lemons. Cover the speculoos base with this mixture. Smooth the surface with a spatula. If you wish, bake for at least 1 hour at 170°C. Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool to room temperature, before placing it in the fridge.
Enjoy chilled with a raspberry coulis, fresh fruit or caramel.


© Carrie Solomon
Discover the recipe for Cheesecake with speculoos, raspberry coulis

The Basque cheesecake, the burnt head

Also called “torta de queso” in Spanish, it strongly resembles the New York cheesecake since it contains cream, with a few differences. First specificity, and not least, the cheesecake is not based on a dough. Indeed, the device is poured directly into a springform pan covered with parchment paper.
The second particularity of the Basque cheesecake is that it is cooked at around 200°C, which is higher than in American recipes. Its surface is therefore caramelized, even slightly burnt, which is why it is nicknamed the “burnt bask cheesecake” across the Atlantic.
For the anecdote, “The New York Times” elected it “flavor of the year 2021”. A title that honors the Basque culinary heritage.

The Basque cheesecake recipe

Whisk 1 kg of cream cheese with 100 g of sugar and the seeds of a vanilla pod. Add 7 eggs, 200 g of fresh cream then 1 tbsp. flour. Pour the preparation into a mold. Bake for 1 hour at 200°C then leave to cool overnight in the refrigerator.


© Bastien Lattanzo
Discover the recipe for Basque Vanilla Cheesecake

The Japanese cheesecake, the fake cheesecake

While it does contain cream cheese, the Japanese cheesecake has nothing else in common with previous versions. Forgotten, the crispy base and the creamy mixture, the Japanese cheesecake is closer to a soufflé than to its American and Basque cousins. Its texture would be described as “cottony”, light and airy, hence its nickname “cotton cake”. This is due to the egg whites used, first separated from the yolks, then stiffened. Once incorporated into the mixture of fresh cheese, egg yolks, butter, cream and sugar, the cheesecake is gently cooked in a bain-marie. Here are the secrets of its realization.
Some simplified versions only include eggs, cream cheese and condensed milk (or white chocolate), but the process remains the same.

The simplified Japanese cheesecake recipe

Separate the whites from the yolks of 6 eggs, then whip the egg whites until stiff with a pinch of salt. Beat 250 g of cream cheese with 125 g of sugar, the egg yolks, 1 tbsp. tablespoons of flour, 80 ml of milk and 20 g of melted butter. Gently fold the egg whites into the mixture. Pour it into a buttered sponge cake mold.
Place the mold on a dripping pan, pour hot water on the plate. Bake for 20 minutes at 160°C, then 1 hour at 100°C.
Remove from the oven to let cool before unmolding.


© Arisara_Tongdonnoi / Istock
Discover the recipe for Japanese Cheesecake


Each cheesecake being unique, it would be very difficult to compare and decide between them… At least, you can boast of having become expert on cheesecake.

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