Baklava Cheesecake

Baklava Cheesecake
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DISCLAIMER: This recipe is for humans not dogs!

I love baklava. No, seriously, it’s basically my favorite dessert. I have very clear memories of a drunken night a few months ago when my housemate offered me some leftover baklava and my friend and I ate the entire box. We’re not talking a small box either, it was a huge box of the stuff. Luckily, I grew up in southeast Michigan which means that there was always plenty of quality Middle Eastern food to be found, and the best (Michigan) baklava, in my very reliable opinion, is from Shatila in Dearborn. I also happened to be visiting my friend in Nashville, Luísa, for Labor Day weekend, and last time I was there, I baked her house a doce de leite cheesecake. Apparently, her landlord has requested that I make a cheesecake every time I visit. So, of course, I decided to make a baklava cheesecake this time.

beagle with cheesecake

One of the reasons why I decided to make baklava cheesecake in Nashville, is because baklava requires phyllo (or filo) dough. For whatever reason, I haven’t been able to find it anywhere in Ann Arbor, but I knew my friend had found some in Nashville before. (If you’re wondering why I didn’t even consider making it myself, it has to be so thin that it’d be really tricky, and I’d need a huge worksurface.) Other important flavor factors in baklava are honey, walnuts, cinnamon, rose water, and orange blossom water. Most recipes for baklava don’t call for rose or orange blossom water, but Luísa claims they are critical flavors. I love the flavor of rose water so I wasn’t going to argue with her. Of course, to make a baklava cheesecake, the final critical component was (cream) cheese.

baklava cheesecake side

A couple notes:

  1. When you bake the cheesecake, put it on top of a baking sheet or bake it in a water bath. The butter leaked out of the pan from between the sheets of phyllo dough. I chose not to use a water bath because I’m guessing that the phyllo wouldn’t be as crispy. If I find phyllo in Ann Arbor, I’ll make another baklava cheesecake and experiment.
  2. It takes forever to bake. I gave myself an hour. I needed 2 hours. I didn’t get to eat any because I had to rush out to get back to Michigan in time.
  3. To make the crust: butter half a sheet of phyllo, fold in half, butter half again, and then fold in half a second time. Then arrange the sheets around the perimeter of the pan.

how to assemble baklava cheesecake crust

 

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baklava cheesecake top
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Baklava Cheesecake

Honey cheesecake topped with baklava filling and surrounded by flaking phyllo dough.

Ingredients
Crust
  • 1 cup crushed shortbread cookies
  • 12 tbsp unsalted butter, melted (separated)
  • 12-20 sheets phyllo dough
Cheesecake
  • 16 oz cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 cups Greek yogurt (full fat, plain)
  • 5 tbsp honey
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp rose water
  • 1/2 tsp orange blossom water
Topping
  • 5 oz walnuts (roasted)
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
Instructions
Topping
  1. In a large saucepan, combine all the ingredients except the roasted walnuts

  2. Bring to a boil, and let cook for ~20 minutes until it thickens

  3. Let cool for 15min

  4. Stir in walnuts

  5. Let cool completely to room temperature

Cheesecake Crust
  1. Preheat oven to 325°F

  2. In a bowl, combine crushed cookies and 4tbsp of melted butter

  3. Press into the bottom of a 9" springform pan

  4. Bake for 5min

  5. One sheet at a time, butter and fold a sheet of phyllo dough in half twice. (Butter, fold, butter, fold)

  6. Place phyllo in a circular pattern around the sprinform pan so that a small amount sticks up over the top

Baklava Cheesecake
  1. Preheat oven to 325°F

  2. Mix together cream cheese and sugar until fully combined

  3. Beat in eggs, one at a time

  4. Mix in Greek yogurt

  5. Mix in honey, cinnamon, rose water, and orange blossom water

  6. Pour into the prepared crust

  7. Bake (placing the springform on top of a baking sheet to catch runaway butter) for ~2hrs or until firm with a slight jiggle at the center

  8. Let the cheesecake cool to room temperature

  9. Cover top with the prepared topping

  10. Chill for 3hrs before serving

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