A Cheesecake That’s Anything But Sweet | culture: the word on cheese
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A Cheesecake That’s Anything But Sweet

In San Sebastián, Spain, Basque cheesecake rules in the dessert department. The coveted confection is a result of Chef Santiago Rivera’s experiments with cakes in 1990 at the city’s famous cafe, La Viña. By trial and error, Rivera developed a Basque cheesecake recipe and the dish exploded internationally. Basque cheesecake is not smooth or dense like regular cheesecake, but instead, scorched and caramelized on top with a rich and gooey interior texture. 

There’s a version so unique that it will stop you in your tracks: the cheesecake at Fismuler—an acclaimed restaurant in Madrid, opened by El Bulli restaurant alums, with a second location in Barcelona. Think: light and custardy, anything but sweet; a collision of Basque-style cheesecake and Spanish cheeses in a pleasantly textured cake. At first glance it tricks your senses into thinking it may be sweet, but blue cheese plays a crucial role, making it a creamy, salty delight. 

The inspiration behind Fismuler cheesecake comes from the Basque restaurant Zuberoa (now closed), where chef and restaurateur Nino Redruello worked for some time—and where he created one of the most unique cheesecakes in Spain. Redruello, who opened Fismuler in Madrid in 2016, wanted to create something unexpected: A cake that catered to cheese lovers that wasn’t too sweet but mighty in flavor. He achieved this by using a variety of cheeses: cream cheese, blue cheese and Idiazábal cheese. The result is a cheesecake with an intensely salty flavor—the smoky Idiazábal complements the spicy, pungent blue cheese, and cream cheese binds it all together for a creamy and satisfying texture.

The Fismuler cheesecake can now be found at all of the Familia La Ancha restaurants, including the Omar, inside the Thompson Madrid hotel, where I first discovered it by way of smell while walking past the kitchen to our dinner table. Some might call it potent at first bite, and with a fluid texture, it’s anything but what you’d expect—visual proof that looks can be deceiving. 

If you love cheese as much as I do, you won’t soon forget its appeal. It’s creamy and custardy on the outside with a buttery crust, but the inside oozes like melted raclette—it’s everything a cheese fanatic could dream of. 

Fismuler Cheesecake by Chef Nino Redruello

For a dessert that’s sure to dazzle your guests, swap your standard New York-style cheesecake recipe with this unique cake. If you can’t find smoked Idiazábal cheese, smoked Manchego will do, and when sourcing blue cheese reach for saltier varieties like Cabrales.
Servings 6 people


Sablè Dough

  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature 
  • 1 tsp confectioners’ sugar 
  • 1 ¾ cup flour 
  • 1 egg yolk

Cream Cheese Filling

  • 2⅔ cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup blue cheese 
  • 1/8 cup Idiazábal cheese 
  • 3/4 cup sugar 
  • 5 eggs


Sablè Dough

  • Heat oven to 350ºF.
  • Cut butter into ½-inch cubes and mix with confectioners’ sugar until combined.
  • Add flour and 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons of water bit by bit and mix until dough is formed.
  • Transfer dough to a smooth surface and knead, but not too much. Texture should be lumpy, not smooth.
  • Roll out dough to ½-inch thick and place in a 9-inch pie pan. 
  • Bake for 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.

Cream Cheese Filling

  • Heat oven to 400ºF.
  • Mix all ingredients except the eggs in a medium pot over medium heat until boiling.
  • Once warmed, remove from heat and mix in eggs. 
  • Pour the mixture on top of the lightly cooked dough.
  • Bake for 13 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool before serving.


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