This pandan Basque cheesecake makes a wonderful treat with its burnt exterior, creamy interior, and subtle pandan flavor in contrast to the whipped coconut cream and crunchy, toasted coconut.
During our Vietnam trip, I got to try a lot of pandan desserts and was completely intrigued by Uyen Luu’s recipe for a pandan Basque cheesecake from her new cookbook, Vietnamese Vegetarian. While cheesecake was never a part of the Vietnamese repertoire, I couldn’t resist this mash-up of Spanish influence with Vietnamese flavor. I love the subtle pandan flavor in the creamy cheesecake in contrast to the whipped coconut cream and crunchy, toasted coconut.
What is Pandan
Pandan, also known as Pandanus amaryllifolius, is a tropical perennial shrub from Southeast Asia, prized for its vanilla-citrusy flavor. It’s dubbed the Asian vanilla. Vietnamese call pandan lá dứa, or “pineapple leaf,” due to the similar appearance of elongated blade-shaped leaves resembling the top of a pineapple plant even though they have no relation.
How to Make Pandan Extract
- You can make pandan extract from fresh or frozen pandan leaves.
- Wash the pandan leaves. Cut the leaves into 1-inch strips.
- Blend 4 ounces of pandan leaves with 1 cup of water.
- Use a high speed blender to blend them with water. Occasionally I will use coconut water or coconut milk to make the extract if the recipe calls for coconut.
- Press the blended mixture through a fine sieve to get the pandan extract.
- Store the extract in the refrigerator for up to 7 days if you are not using it right away.
How to Make Cheesecake
- To make the pandan Basque cheesecake, beat cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium-low speed until very smooth.
- Add eggs one at a time.
- Add coconut cream, pandan extract, and salt and beat until combined.
- Sift flour evenly over cream cheese mixture using a fine-mesh sieve and beat on low speed until the batter is very smooth and homogenous.
- Pour the batter into prepared pan. Pop the bubbles on the surface with a toothpick.
How Long to Bake Cheesecake
Transfer the baking sheet with pan to the middle rack in the oven. The pandan Basque cheesecake bakes at a higher temperature at 400°F compared to 350°F for traditional cheesecake, giving it a deep golden hue and caramelized flavor. Bake the cheesecake until deeply golden brown on top and still very jiggly in the center, about 70 minutes.
How Long to Let Cheesecake Set
Let the cheesecake cool completely to room temperature before unmolding and serving. Or you can refrigerate it overnight, bring it to almost room temperature, and serve slightly chilled the next day. I prefer the latter.
What to Serve Cheesecake With
When it comes to cheesecake, I love a contrast in texture. I decided to make a whipped coconut cream and toast some coconut slices to enhance the flavor of the pandan Basque cheesecake.
Store leftover cheesecake in a lidded container in the refrigerator for up to a week.
For more cheesecake inspiration:
Pandan Basque Cheesecake
- 4 ounces pandan leaves
- 1 cup coconut cream
- 1 pound 12 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- ¾ cup sugar
- 4 large eggs, room temperature
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 cup coconut cream
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup heavy cream
- ½ cup coconut cream, cold
- 6 tablespoons confectioner's sugar
- ¾ cup coconut slices, toasted
- To make pandan extract, add leaves and coconut cream to a high speed blender and blend to a pulp. Pour everything over a fine mesh sieve placed over a bowl. Use a spoon to press down on the pulp to get as much extract as possible. Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Grease 9-inch springform pan, then line bottom and sides with 2 overlapping sheets of parchment, making sure parchment comes at least 1.5" above top of pan on all sides.
- Beat cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium-low speed until very smooth and well combined, about 3 minutes.
- Increase speed to medium and add eggs one at a time. Add in pandan extract, coconut cream, and salt and beat until combined, about 1 minute.
- Turn off mixer and sift cornstarch evenly over cream cheese mixture using a fine-mesh sieve and beat on low speed about 30 seconds.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and transfer the pan to the middle rack in the oven.
- Bake the cheesecake for 70 minutes, until the top is a deep-dark brown, the edges are just set, and the center is still jiggly.
- Let cool completely. Unmold and carefully peel away parchment from sides of cheesecake. Slice into wedges and serve at room temperature or refrigerate and serve whipped coconut cream and toasted coconut.
- In a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, combine heavy cream, coconut cream, and sugar in a bowl and whisk until stiff peaks form.
- Spread coconut slices in a single layer on a baking tray and toast in the oven at 350 degrees F for 5 minutes or until golden.