Generally — while I love it to a fault — cheesecake tends to be pretty heavy. That’s why, in this recipe, the tartness of the lemon and pomegranate serve to lighten the flavor, as well as add a little more variety! The burnt exterior of this cheesecake acts as its own caramelized crust, and the interior is soft and classically cheesecake-y. This recipe is made with a stand mixer in mind, but everything can easily be done with an electric hand mixer or fully whisked by hand like in ye olden days (if you want a serious workout). Additionally, all of the toppings and garnishes are optional and modifiable based on preference — you will still be left with a delicious cheesecake!
I adapted this recipe from Bon Appetit’s “Burnt Basque Cheesecake” recipe, and it was just as easy and delicious as they advertised it to be! For any tips on how to make the cheesecake (and how to fold the parchment paper), you can watch the Bon Appetit (BA) video “Molly Makes Cheesecake | From the Test Kitchen | Bon Appétit” on YouTube.
- Unsalted butter (for pan)
- 2 pounds of cream cheese
- 1½ cups sugar
- 6 large eggs
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
Pomegranate Thyme Molasses
- 2 cups pomegranate juice
- Juice of half a lemon
- ¼ cup of sugar
- 2 sprigs thyme
- 1 lemon
- Sugar to coat
- Bundle of mint leaves
- Basil leaves (optional)
- Thyme leaves (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 400°. In a stand mixer (with a paddle attachment), or with an electric hand mixer, beat cream cheese with sugar until the mixture is smooth and the sugar has dissolved. You can rub a little between your fingers — it should be smooth, not grainy (2 minutes in a stand mixer).
- Add the eggs to the mixture one by one, making sure to incorporate each egg fully before adding the next one (15 seconds on medium speed in a stand mixer). Scrape down the sides of the stand mixer and add the vanilla, salt and heavy cream. Make sure that your stand mixer, if using one, is on low speed before mixing in each additional ingredient.
- Turn off the mixer. Using a fine mesh sieve, sift flour evenly over the mixture and beat mixture until flour is incorporated (15 seconds on low speed in a stand mixer). Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat again until smooth.
- Butter the pan, then line it with parchment paper, making sure that the parchment paper comes 2-inches over the top on all sides. Tip: As in the original BA recipe, use two overlapping sheets of parchment paper to achieve this. Pleat the edges to make the parchment paper stand on its own and fit the circular pan.
- Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake until the top reaches a deep golden brown and the cheesecake is still very jiggly in the center (60–65 minutes).
- While cheesecake is in the oven, prep the pomegranate-thyme molasses and sugared lemons. In a small saucepan, combine pomegranate juice, sugar, and the juice of half a lemon. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and let simmer until the mixture has reduced by half, thickly coats the back of a spoon, and has a syrup-y consistency. Bring off the heat and add the sprigs of thyme. Leave for 20-30 minutes, then remove. There will most likely be molasses left over after garnishing that can be served with individual slices, if so desired.
- For the sugared lemons, slice lemon thinly, remove seeds and coat in a thin layer of sugar. While they can be eaten whole, you may also cut away the rind and pith if so preferred. This can be done right before serving.
- Once the cheesecake is done, let cool slightly and unmold. The center of the cheesecake will fall as it cools. Let cool completely, then peel away the sides of the parchment paper.
- To garnish, pour pomegranate thyme syrup over the top of the cheesecake. Let sit for a few minutes to soak in (optional – small incisions can be made on the top to allow the syrup to soak further into the cheesecake). Arrange sugared lemons and mint however you prefer. (Optional) Sprinkle a few thyme and/or basil leaves.
While this recipe is a little bit more time consuming, it easily yields a gorgeous cheesecake that tastes delicious too. This cake also pairs well with any citrusy drink, or light and spring-y cocktail. Enjoy!