Friday, May 31, 2013

Baklava Cheesecake


So, here's a question that makes my head spin. 

"What's your favorite dessert of all time?" 

I usually follow this up with an uncomfortable pause, an "umm..." or two and then I get red in the face because dessert is my LIFE and I should have a solid answer for this question. 

"I'm still deciding."

I know. Bor-ing. I'm just not ready to commit!  But I can tell you this. Cheesecake is in my top 5, and this Baklava Cheesecake is definitely in my top 10. 


I was inspired by this recipe, and decided to re-work it a little. I thought it best to incorporate Greek yogurt into the cheesecake batter (that makes sense, right?) and ground walnuts can almost always use the loving touch of a little salt. I also made an embarrassing amount of honey syrup for drenching this filo covered cake, mostly because - have you ever had dry baklava?  Ugh. I don't even want to talk about it.


I used my 7-inch spring-form pan made by Nordic Ware for this cheesecake. It worked well, though I was worried half way through baking because it puffed up over the edge of the pan. I'm suggesting the use of an 8-inch pan in the recipe below. It will provide a little more room for the batter and 7-inch pans aren't a standard size (but personally, I love them and use. mine. often!).


This is a must-try if you're a baklava lover! The cheesecake is rich and creamy with the addition of Greek yogurt, and it is rippled with cinnamon-walnut filling. The flaky filo layers on top provide a nice, satisfying crunch. If you're making this for a party or gathering, be sure to place the extra drenching syrup in a gravy boat or pitcher beside the cake. Guests can pour additional syrup onto their individual slices. 

Baklava Cheesecake
[click for printable version]
Yield: One 8-inch cheesecake, 10 servings
Source: Adapted from taste.com.AU
Prep:1 hour 30 minutes
Total: 3 hours

Make the honey drenching syrup first. It needs to reduce on the stove top for 20 minutes and then cool completely. For the cheesecake portion, I used nonfat honey-flavored Greek yogurt, but I'm sure full fat would be wonderful, too. You may also choose to use almonds or pistachios in place of the walnuts in the nut filling, or use a combination of all the above!

Cinnamon-honey drenching syrup
1 cup granulated sugar (8 oz)
1 1/3 cups water (10.7 oz)
1 cup honey (250 ml)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  1. Stir together the sugar, water and honey in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer and let cook for 20-25 minutes until reduced and syrupy. You should have around 1 3/4 to 2 cups of liquid after cooking. This amount doesn't have to be exact, as long as you're somewhere at or in between. Remove syrup from heat and stir in cinnamon.  Let cool completely.
Cheesecake
6 oz. walnuts
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 1/2 packages (20 oz.) cream cheese, at room temperature
2  5.3 oz. containers (or 300g total) Greek yogurt, honey flavor (or plain)
3/4 cup granulated sugar (6 oz.)
3 eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup butter, melted (4 oz.)
12-14 sheets filo pastry
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spread walnuts on a baking sheet and toast for 5-8 minutes in the oven. Let cool, then place 5 oz. of the nuts in a food processor and process in quick bursts until finely chopped. You can also chop them finely with a chef's knife. Transfer the 5 oz. finely chopped nuts to a medium bowl and add 1/2 cup of the drenching syrup, salt and cinnamon. Stir together and set aside. Reserve remaining 1 oz. walnuts for later use. 
  2. Process cream cheese, Greek yogurt, sugar and vanilla extract together in the bowl of a food processor. Scrape down sides of the bowl if needed. Process until completely smooth. Add the eggs and process again. Let rest in the bowl while you prepare the filo crust.
  3. Reduce oven heat to 325°F. Release the collar from an 8-inch spring-form pan. Tear off a sheet of parchment paper and place over the base, then re-attach the collar, allowing the baking paper to stick out the bottom edges (see photo). Place the filo sheets on a clean work surface. Working quickly, lightly brush a sheet with butter then fold in half. Lay the sheet inside the pan allowing one end of the pastry to overhang the top edge of the spring-form pan. Repeat process with 9 more sheets of filo; turn and overlap the pieces until the bottom of the pan is completely covered. Cover the remaining sheets of filo with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for later use.
  4. Pour cheesecake batter into the prepared pan. Use a spoon to place dollops of the reserved walnut filling on top of the cheesecake batter. Some dollops will sink to the bottom, some will sit on top of the batter, so don't worry too much about this part looking perfect. The filling will create random ripples of walnut in the baked cheesecake (that's just part of the beauty). Fold the overhanging filo edges onto the cheesecake. Bake for 1 hour 10 minutes, or until the center is set. Do not remove cheesecake from the oven - turn off the oven and prop the oven door open (about 5 inches or so) and let the oven cool down completely (about 40 minutes). 
  5. Remove cheesecake from the oven and re-heat the oven to  350°F. Brush the remaining 2-4 pieces of filo dough with butter and place them in a crumpled fashion on the top middle of the cheesecake. Bake for 8-10 minutes more or until the newly added filo has turned golden. Cool to room temperature. Top cheesecake with drenching syrup and remaining 1 oz. of toasted walnuts.  Place leftover syrup in a gravy boat beside the cheesecake. Refrigerate leftovers.




71 comments:

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Absolutely gorgeous! You are so inventive and talented.

Cheers,

Rosa

RecipeGirl said...

Seriously creative flavor for a cheesecake! Love it!

Alba Sánchez said...

All I can say is...WOAH. ;)

Belinda Lo said...

I love the use filo here to decorate the cheese cake! stunning as usual.

Annamaria @ Bakewell Junctiom said...

Fantastic cheesecake! Can't wait to try it.
Annamaria

Anonymous said...

Delicious looking recipe! I think I have to make it.

There are no eggs in the cheesecake? What effect does that have?

Anonymous said...

I am Greek,I live in Greece,I love baklava,I have eaten tones of baklava,I have maken baklava
more than twenty times in my life but T H I S looks A M A Z I N G !!!What a great idea,what a devine presantation!!!Heather,seriously, Y O U
R O C K!!!
Love from GREECE,
Margarita

Heather Baird said...

There are three eggs that go in the batter, I just forgot to add when to put them in! This is corrected. Thank you for noticing!

-h

SeeJillBake said...

I.MUST.MAKE.THIS.

Cookbook Queen said...

You always have the best ideas!! I love baklava and I love cheesecake, this has to be fabulous!!!

Erin said...

Looks incredible! I also cannot pick a favorite dessert. I can pick favorites in certain categories (such as favorie pie, cake, cookie, etc), but not one overall.

Monica said...

You are so creative, Heather. I'm actually not a fan of cheesecakes (yikes!) but this is a thing of beauty to look at, once again...

vanillasugarblog said...

H you are crazy talented!
I love this.
Love you!
xoxo!

Sara said...

Wow, what a great cheesecake - this looks incredible! :)

Gina Stanley said...

"All-time favorite dessert" question is the same as "Who is your favorite child". There is just no way to answer it nicely without pissing someone off. All of your desserts are amazing, but this one in particular is screaming "I need this".
-Gina-

Heather @ Snookies Cakes said...

I have to make this! It looks amazing!

Leah | So, How's It Taste? said...

Whoa, that looks fabulous!

Jenn @ Once Upon a Tier said...

Wow! You never cease to amaze me! This looks absolutely decadent.

Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar said...

Oh my goodness! You have outdone yourself! This is so creative, and really looks dreamy! Yum!!

thequietbaker said...

This looks divine! I just purchased your book and absolutely love it!

Sahar Habib said...

What a great idea! This looks divine!

Veronica said...

Oh...my...word. Photography:amazing, baklava cheesecake: genious!! And drenched with honey syrup! I'm over here dying! Your recipes never fail to amaze me!! love love love

Anonymous said...

My God, this is a totally in-cre-di-ble idea !!! Amazing. Congrats ! I love your ideas so much...
Bacchis

Emily Dickson said...

I've never tried baklava but I too do LOVE desserts and LOVE cheesecake so perhaps I should give this a go? :D
from Emily x

Stephanie @ Girl Versus Dough said...

O. M. G. YUMMM.

(and beautiful!)

Annie @ Annie's City Kitchen said...

That's too funny, I thought I was so weird for not having a "favorite" dessert, especially for being someone who bakes so often, so I'm glad to know I'm not alone!

This cheesecake looks insane. Your recipes always tend to take two amazing things and combine them into one outstanding thing. I like that philosophy.

Julia Darling said...

That is an absolutely stunning post.

nessa said...

This looks great! Love, love, love, all the pictures!

Sunshine - www.cancerinthecity.com said...

That looks so good!

Sunshine - www.cancerinthecity.com said...

That looks so good!

thyme Sarah said...

I just love this one...it is so creative. Just returning from istanbul and immersing ourselves in everything baklava...this is so fitting to see right now.

Stacy | Wicked Good Kitchen said...

Beautiful Baklava Cheesecake, Heather! I've never made a large cake, but I have made mini (personal size) Baklava Cheesecakes. (They're very different. Whew.) You've reminded me to make them soon for the blog. Stunning photos, too, as always! Love the side-by-sides! xo

Julie (pharmbelle85) said...

I love baklava. What an amazing idea for cheesecake! Also, considering how important dessert is to you, people just shouldn't ask you to choose ;) Gorgeous as always!

Melody Shingler said...

GRAND SLAM! You really hit this one out of the park! My guys will be sooooooo pleased. (Me, not so much -- not until somebody invents a lovely GF phyllo... :( )

ashley - baker by nature said...

My Greek family will flip out over this baklava cheesecake! It is so stunning and creative.

Tieghan said...

So incredibly creative. I love it!!

Laura (TLN) said...

Oh my!!! Looks amazing!

Achu said...

Amazing :) Good Idea!!! Loved all your recipes :)

lavidalaura.com said...

I love baklava, and I love cheesecake, but I never would have thought to put the two together. This recipe looks to die for!

Angela said...

Have I ever told you I adore you? Oh, I am sure I have... with every post you make.

AngelaW

Sue said...

I have never seen such an amazing cheesecake in my life!!! My mom was Armenian (much of Armenian food is similar to Greek food),and though she was the 7th of 9 children, she was the first to be born in the U.S. Her oldest sister(18 years older) was born in the "old country" and used to make baklava quite frequently, but I never appreciated it. I wish she was still alive so that I could make it with her.

Tamara said...

woow, what an Idea

Taneith Lanyon said...

Heather
Baklava plus Cheesecake - you have created sugar coated tingles and i say
'' Thank You ''
Happy Sunday
Taneith
xxx

Athene K. said...

This looks absolutely incredible. You have such amazing ideas!!

Alyssa said...

My mother loves baklava and cheesecake. I like to surprise people on their birthday with a special treat, and this would be just perfect for her. Thanks for sharing!

Hatice said...

Hi Heather ! Strange yet, indeed i' ve been to Greece before, but i never came across with it. So being a Turkish citizen, i' d like to also highlight that baklava is a very traditional Turkish sweet treat which is been reputated for centuries. In our traditions, my grandmoms , my mom and most of the Turkish women bakes baklava for all the special festive days and people present to each other. Especially in Istanbul, you can see a baklava shop in almost every street and it is sold with syrup absorbed. Dry baklava is only purchased when it will travel overseas and then you have to make syrup and get rested in it. And here is the original version which is widely baked and sold here in Turkey: http://www.karakoygulluoglu.com/eng/
It is really delicious and your cheesecake version definitely looks yummy!!

Karen @ Lemon Grove Cake Diaries said...

I'm like you "I'm not ready to commit" to just one dessert either :) That's the great thing about blogging we can try something new every week! The Baklava Cheesecake looks amazing!

TiFleur Street said...

Your pics are beautiful and it seems to be delicious!
Thanks for this note and see you

We Are Not Martha said...

Whoa this is amazing! Baklava AND cheesecake TOGETHER?!?! LOVE.

Sues

wallflourgirl said...

100% yes, please--these two desserts are definitely in my top 5 as well!

Barb | Creative Culinary said...

Absolutely fabulous...two favorites of mine combined in one!

Colette Just for Foodies said...

I didn't think there was a way to improve cheesecake,
but wrapping it in crispy phyllo works!

petal and plume said...

oh my, you've got my sweet tooth singing!
xx
http://petalandplume.blogspot.ca/

Joanne T Ferguson said...

G'day! More than ABSOLUTE OOMPAH yum, TRUE!
I can almost taste this now even through my computer screen too!
Cheers! Joanne

ildenafil citrate jelly said...

Wow what an idea i love this

Katrina Bahl said...

I love your brain. That is all.

Mais Khourdaji said...

Do you think this can be made a couple days in advance or will it get soggy? I have a dinner party coming up! :)

cookies and cups said...

I can't breathe right now. I need this so bad.

Jane said...

Sehr schöne Idee. Das werde ich auch einmal versuchen. Sieht super aus.

Heather Baird said...

To Mais - the crunch in the filo on top held up for two days in the refrigerator. After that it started becoming a little soft. You could make the cake one or two days ahead.

Deborah @ Delicious Happens said...

This looks amazing!!! Beautiful cake!!

Patricia said...

I happened to show this recipe to my husband and he requested it for his upcoming birthday on the 6th. Wish me luck!

Patricia said...

I am in the process of making the baklava cheesecake for my husband's birthday. I have the syrup simmering on the stove and realized that I added the cinnamon at the onset. I hope it doesn't really matter because I have no more honey and it's blazing hot out. I don't want to have to make a run to the grocery store. That's what I get for multi-tasking and not reading the directions.

Heather Baird said...

It should be fine, Patricia! No worries!

Michelle Miller said...

You previously mentioned the ability to make this wonderfule looking cheesecake 1-2 days in advance. Would you recommend waiting to drench the top with syrup until ready to serve? I wondered if the filo on top would stay crisp longer? Thanks!

Heather Baird said...

I'd definitely wait to drench before serving. You are absolutely right - the filo will remain crisp longer.

xo
h

Confessions of a Food Lover said...

Genius! I am drooling.

Your Girl Friday said...

This combines two of my friend's favorite desserts, so I want to make it for her birthday. I only have a 10" springform pan, though. Anyone have any suggestions on how much I should increase the ingredients to make this work? Thank you!

Stephanie said...

I'm planning to make this the night before a party; should I refrigerate it or leave it out, covered?

Heather Baird said...

Hi @ Your Girl Friday - You could increase all the ingredients by a quarter to fit a 10-inch pan. You'd probably need another sheet or three of filo, too. I wouldn't increase the soaking syrup though - there's plenty of that as-is. If you had a 9-inch pan, you might get away with the same ingredient amounts and shorter baking time.

@Stephanie - Refrigerate, for sure! I'd wait to pour over the drenching syrup until just before serving. Hope this helps!

mamzelle said...

This was a ma zing! I did it the night before so it soaked up the syrup... It was a success! Do you think the cake would freeze well?

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xo
H

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