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A combo of high-heat char and pillowy, cheesy texture make this cheesecake a crowd pleaser. (Photo credit: Doug Young)

Even after the many helpings of Thanksgiving sides, turkey and fixings, most of us will still save room for dessert — or revisit the idea after a nap. The options are usually pretty straightforward: classic pumpkin or apple pie topped with whipped cream or a sneak peek of holiday cookies.

Offering your guests a slice of burnt Basque cheesecake may not initially go over well with the purists, albeit the ‘burnt’ description. Once they try this rustic-looking, Spanish-style dessert, they’ll forgive its scorched surface.

“Traditional American cheesecakes are complicated,” says Harbor Market & Kitchen‘s co-owner, Paul Del Favero. “You have to cook them in a water bath at low temperature, making sure they don’t crack,” explains the Michelin star chef. “You have to be very delicate with them. This recipe is like bing bang, boom. Mix it all, pour it into the mold, put it in the oven, and 45 minutes later, it’s done. It is supremo.”

This cheesecake’s storied history is as intriguing as its pillowy, charred edges and gooey center. The dish, made 30 years before its illustrious debut in America, was first created by Santiago Rivera, chef and owner of La Viña, a traditional bar-restaurant in the old part of San Sebastián, Spain.

How did this recipe’s journey end in Sag Harbor’s beloved neighborhood market? Why, through Las Vegas, of course!

Chef Paul Del Favero and his perfectly imperfect burnt Basque cheesecake. (Photo credit: Doug Young)

“A very good Spanish friend of mine [who] I worked with in Vegas gave me the recipe,” recounts the French-trained Del Favero of the place where he won his Michelin Star. “She’s very secretive about everything, but she gave it up. I tweaked it a little bit to my liking.”

With its velvety texture and caramelized top, this crustless cheesecake can play nice with its Thanksgiving cousins by adding a cup of pumpkin puree with the mascarpone and cream cheese. ( Del Favero sticks with Philadelphia brand, also used in Spain.) “Drain the pumpkin puree to get as much liquid as possible out of it before mixing it with the cheese,” suggests Del Favero.

Catering for Thanksgiving is also an option this time of year. Harbor Market & Kitchen has you covered, offering fresh, healthy, and simply prepared dishes using the best locally sourced ingredients. 

“Thanksgiving is a good holiday for us at Harbor Market,” he says, which just finished its ninth summer season. “We get a lot of people who come back every year to place orders.”

And yes, the burnt Basque pumpkin cheesecake is a Thanksgiving ordering option, too.

We’ll forgive your cheating if you decide to head over to the shop on 184 Division Street. But if you’re feeling ambitious (or, not so much — because remember: this is easy!), try your hand at Del Favero’s irresistible version.

Follow these simple step-by-step instructions for new Thanksgiving dessert tradition. (Photo credit: Doug Young)

Harbor Market’s burnt Basque cheesecake

Prep Time 30 minutes


  • 1/2 lb marscapone cheese
  • 1/2 lb Philadelphia brand cream cheese
  • 7 eggs
  • 400 grams sugar
  • 7 1/2 oz heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp vanilla bean paste


  • Allow all ingredients to come to room temperature.
  • Prepare your mold using non-stick spray, spraying inside your springform pan. Line the mold with parchment paper, pressing it into the bottom and sides of the pan, and spray again.
  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees, low fan if using a convection oven. The high temperature will give the cheesecake its burnt color.
  • Using the mixer with the paddle attachment, combine all ingredients in the bowl until smooth and creamy.
  • Pour mixture into springform mold. Cook for 20 minutes, rotating the mold halfway through. Continue baking for another 20-25 minutes.
  • The cake will rise like a souffle, after the baking time the cheesecake should be jiggly in the center.
  • Allow the cheesecake cool (it will fall, which is okay). Once cooled and fallen, refrigerate until completely cool before unmolding.
  • Peel away parchment and serve.