Create your own mash-up of two delicious desserts that even beginners can master when learning how to bake.
A baklava cheesecake layers a light, tangy cream cheese filling on top of a ribbon of walnuts and pistachios and a floral, syrupy base of honey-soaked pastry. And with just a slight twist to the recipe, you can upgrade the filling with holiday inspired flavors like pumpkin-swirled chocolate or candy cane.
What Is A Baklava Cheesecake?
You’ll start by making a baklava pastry foundation of phyllo pastry and layers of walnut and pistachio pieces. Then comes the traditional creamy cheesecake filling. When baked, the pastry will turn flaky and golden, a perfect compliment to the velvety cheesecake interior.
A baklava cheesecake should taste like the best of both desserts, balancing the sweetness of the syrupy pastry with the earthy nuts and tangy cream cheese.
Classic Baklava Cheesecake Recipe
The beauty of a baklava cheesecake is that you only need a few baking essentials to make it, the recipe can be prepared in as little as 30 minutes and it needs just 75 minutes to bake and cool.
The key ingredients for a classic baklava cheesecake are:
For the filling:
- 2 ½ cups (565g) of cream cheese
- ½ cup (112.5g) of plain greek yogurt
- 3 eggs
- ½ cup (170g) of honey
- ⅓ cup (40g) of all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp of vanilla extract
For the pastry:
- 12 sheets of phyllo pastry
- 1 cup of walnuts
- 1 cup of pistachios
- 12 tbsp of melted butter
For the syrup:
- ⅔ cup (120ml) of water
- ¼ cup (50g) of sugar
- ¼ cup (85g) of honey
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1.5 tsp of rose water
Before you do anything, make sure you turn on your oven to preheat it. You’ll need to set it to 350°F (180°C) at first.
Make the syrup
The very first step of this baklava cheesecake recipe is to make the syrup, so it can cool down while you’re working on the other elements of this dessert.
There are three steps to making the syrup:
- Combine the water, sugar, honey and cinnamon stick in a saucepan and bring it to a boil
- When it starts to boil, turn down the heat and let it simmer until it creates a thick syrup texture. This should take around 10 minutes.
- Once it’s ready, turn off the heat so it can cool, and add the rose water.
Make The Nutty Filling
The inside of baklava cheesecake comprises roasted nuts and a mix of cream cheese, vanilla and honey.
Like you would with a baklava recipe, you need to start by roasting the nuts. For the walnuts, you can spread them on a tray lined with parchment paper and put them in the pre-heated oven for 7 to 10 minutes. The pistachios should go on a different paper-lined tray as they’ll need between 5 and 10 minutes to toast. You’ll know it’s time to remove from the oven when they become fragrant, or lightly browned.
Once toasted, chop the nuts finely. You can do this by hand or use a food processor—just make sure you stop when the nuts are fine pieces and not a powder.
At this stage you also need to turn down the oven temperature to 320°F (160°C).
Prepare The Phyllo Pastry
Premade sheets of phyllo pastry can save you time and stress. With this approach, all you need to do is cut the layers of store-bought pastry so they fit in your cake dish and set this aside for assembly later.
If you’d prefer to make your own phyllo pastry, you’ll need to allow an extra 2.5 hours to do so.
Make The Cheesecake Filling
Grab a big mixing bowl and pour in all of your baklava cheesecake filling ingredients.Give it a good mix until everything has blended together to make a smooth filling. It’s easy enough to do by hand, or break out your mixer to tackle this step more quickly.
If you struggle to get rid of lumps in your filling, it might be because your cream cheese is too cold. To fix this, you can pass the cream cheese through a sieve to help get a smoother consistency.
Assemble The Baklava Cheesecake
Now that all of your elements have been prepared, it’s time to assemble your baklava cheesecake.
- Line your cake dish with parchment paper.
- Melt ½ cup (125g) of unsalted butter with ½ cup (112g) of vegetable oil.
- Place down a layer of pastry and cover with the melted butter and oil.
- Do the same with a second layer of pastry then spread a quarter of the nutty mixture across the pastry sheet.
- Repeat this three more times.
- Pour in the cheesecake filling.
- Trim any excess pastry from the sides of the tin—but make sure to leave 1” to 2” for a crust that you will fold over the top of the filling.
- Put it in the oven for 60–75 minutes at 320°F (160°C). You’ll know it’s ready when the cake turns golden and has a slight wobble.
- When it’s ready, turn off the oven. Open the door slightly and let it cool for a further 15 minutes.
- Take it out of the oven and remove the ring from the cake tin. Pour the syrup over the pastry crust while it’s still warm, as this helps it to absorb.
Leave your baklava cheesecake to cool at room temperature for a few hours, then cover and store in the fridge.
Baklava Cheesecake Variations
One of the things you discover when you learn how to make cheesecake is that it only takes a slight twist to transform the vanilla filling into another flavor. With this baklava cheesecake, there are some variations you can create with only a handful of changes that will give you a truly holiday inspired flavor—but some will need a whole new filling recipe.
Chocolate Baklava Cheesecake
One crowd-pleasing variation is to introduce chocolate to your baklava cheesecake. You could simply add some chopped chocolate to the nutty layer and decorate with chocolate pieces.
For a more intense chocolate baklava cheesecake, incorporate cocoa into the filling itself. This is incredibly easy to do with the recipe above, by mixing in⅓ of a cup (35g) of your favorite chocolate powder to the filling.
Pumpkin-Swirled Baklava Cheesecake
Another holiday inspired variation is to swap out the vanilla filling for a pumpkin one with hints of chocolate. It requires an altogether different recipe for the filling that includes melted chocolate chips, cream cheese, granulated sugar, ground sugar, a can of pumpkin puree, eggs, milk, cornstarch, cinnamon and nutmeg. If this sounds tempting, try your hand at a chocolate-swirled pumpkin cheesecake.
Candy Cane Baklava Cheesecake
You can also change the filling to create a mint-flavored candy cane baklava cheesecake. You’ll need a lot of muscle for this, as the recipe calls for a ¾ cup (120g) of crushed candy canes that you may need to smash up yourself.
To bake this wintery confection, you’ll combine cream cheese, sour cream, sugar, flour, eggs, vanilla extract and peppermint extract. But it’s worth the extra effort to learn how to make a candy cane cheesecake if your guests are pleased by peppermint.
Baklava Cheesecake Bites
You could also awe your audience with some mini baklava cheesecake bites. One option is to scale-back the recipe and make bite-sized pastry tarts with a cheesecake filling. You can still keep a nod to baklava by sticking with the pastry bottom and adding the filling before topping with nuts and spooning over the sweet syrup.
Another approach to baklava cheesecake bites is to swap out the phyllo pastry for crescent roll dough. To make this, just sandwich a walnut-topped cheesecake filling between two layers of dough, brush with honey and bake before cutting up into bars.
Vegan Baklava Cheesecake
Go plant-based by swapping out the cream cheese, butter and eggs for vegan alternatives. Follow any baklava cheesecake recipe with these simple baking substitutions instead.
Deconstructed Baklava Cheesecake
Another way to wow is with your presentation, and plating up a deconstructed baklava cheesecake will make this dessert look even more impressive.
To make this dish, you’ll have to create and bake all the elements separately and then assemble them on the plate. You’ll need to make:
- A stack of honey-soaked, flaky, golden phyllo pastry sheets
- A doughy dollop of pistachios and walnuts
- A spoon of cheesecake filling
How you choose to assemble this is up to you and your imagination. Layer the elements in a dish or serve as separate components on a long plate, for example.
Dazzle At The Dinner Table
Your guests will be gripped when they’re treated to two desserts in one. They’ll never know that, despite its complex appearance, it’s somewhat straightforward to make a baklava cheesecake. Just don’t be surprised if there’s a squabble over who gets a second helping.
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