Basque-inspired Low Carb Burnt Pandan Cheesecake

Why would anybody want to burn something? Actually burning is not necessarily a sign of incompetence in the kitchen, but rather an appreciation of the Maillard reaction, that beautiful browning reaction that gives a smoky caramelized flavour. It can be an illustration of life as well – when friends ask how kid#2 is doing in her final international baccalaureate year, I usually reply that she is being “barbecued”. Hopefully in 4 months’ time she will have survived the barbecuing process and will be able to end this phase of her schooling. I’m sure she will look back one day and have good memories!

Last night I was at my medical school 25th anniversary class reunion. We had such a blast – people were remembering how they sang Cantonese songs while doing cadaver dissection, or running off to eat Bak Chor Mee (minced pork noodles) after forensic pathology classes. We survived the heat of intensive studies and the rigor of medical practice as trainees. Of course nowadays we wouldn’t be able to manage a night call but we built really good memories in our toughest learning years.

Good memories! I don’t know how we survived but we did.

I often harness the Maillard reaction when I sear steaks and roasts. But it was a little scary doing this bake as I seldom burn desserts; probably creme brûlée is the only dessert that I have enthusiastically and legitimately torched.

The Basque burnt cheesecake is a recent phenomenon. People are going crazy over this Spanish cake that breaks all the rules – burnt cake, collapsed cake…it’s crazy. But there is reason in the midst of the madness – the caramelization of the top layer is amazing. And this is actually a lighter cake than the classical NY cheesecake. The Pandan twist came before I wanted to use coconut flour to stabilize the cake (and I adore the Pandan-coconut flavour mixture).

The cake turned out less ugly than expected. And nothing caught fire in the oven, which I’m grateful for. This is a much easier cheesecake to make than the classical cheesecake as there is no need for a base crust and also the cake is much more forgiving when it comes to over beating. It’s probably a cake recipe I would make repeatedly since it is so easy to do.

Low Carb Burnt Pandan Cheesecake

  • Servings: 12
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print


  • 1 kg cream cheese
  • 1 cup sugar substitute (I used Lakanto monk fruit-erythritol sugar substitute mix)
  • 2 cups of heavy whipping cream
  • 6 eggs
  • 11/2 tsp Pandan emulco
  • 2 tbsp coconut flour
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp butter


  1. Preheat the oven to 200 deg C
  2. Grease a springform pan with the butter
  3. Line the pan with 2 large overlapping sheets of baking paper, allowing the paper to rise high above the rim of the pan
  4. Beat the cream cheese and sugar substitute together in a large bowl, ensuring the cheese mixture looks fluffy. Add the cream, Pandan emulco and salt and heat further till well mixed.
  5. Add an egg at the time, mixing briefly until just mixed. Use a spatula to ensure the thicker batter on the sides of the bowl are well mixed into the cake batter.
  6. Sprinkle the coconut flour 1 tablespoon at a time and fold into the batter carefully with a large spatula.
  7. Pour the cake batter into the lined pan. Bake for 60 minutes.
  8. Remove from heat and allow the cake to cool. The top of the cake will certainly collapse. Refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight. Serve cold.


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