A few weeks ago, I celebrated Eid with Muslims around the world after a month of fasting for Ramadan. One of my most delicious family Eid traditions is to make an extra special cheesecake to eat after Eid breakfast. This year, I made Baklava Cheesecake. Yes, it is just as amazing as it sounds: a combination of two of my favourite desserts, baklava and cheesecake.
Before I go any further, some of you may be thinking "but aren't you a dietitian?" When I post dessert pictures, I get the occasional Facebook friend asking me "but aren't you a dietitian?" You bet I am! A dessert-loving dietitian. The type of dietitian that eats for health 80% of time and pleasure 20% of the time. Food is a lot more complex than just "good" or "bad". So while I promote a wholesome diet majority of the time, every Eid (and other occasions worth celebrating) you will definitely see a cheesecake at my dinner table.
Ok now that we have that out of the way - let's get back to the sweet stuff!
I first heard about Baklava Cheesecake a few years ago when I was flipping through my Bon Appetit cookbook. I made a mental note to make it one day but never got around to it. Recently, I started seeing Baklava Cheesecake pop up on my Instagram newsfeed again and again thanks to Nido's Cheesecake. Since she is based all the way in California and doesn't deliver to Canada (yet), I knew I had to figure out another way to get a slice of Baklava Cheesecake on my plate ASAP!
I did a quick Google search to see if I could find a good recipe for Baklava Cheesecake. Unfortunately, there were only a few and they seemed way too complicated or had alcohol or just didn't seem like they would work. I decided to put together a combination of my own recipes and the end result was a delicious Baklava Cheesecake!
To be honest, I wasn't even going to share this recipe on my blog but after an overwhelming response to my Eid Instagram post, I decided it was too selfish to keep this recipe all to myself. Consider this my Eid gift to you! Just promise me you won't be making it every night and having the whole thing to yourself for dinner, OK?
This Baklava Cheesecake consists of 3 parts: the cheesecake, the baklava, and the syrup.
The cheesecake is a New York style cheesecake from JoyofBaking.com. It is my absolute favourite recipe for NY cheesecake and I always use this as a base for my cheesecakes. I paired it with a graham cracker crust using brown sugar and a dash of cinnamon, which really brings together the flavours of baklava.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind when making Baklava Cheesecake:
For the baklava nut mixture, DO NOT over-blend it, otherwise it might turn into a smooth paste, which is what you DON'T want. You want to blend it enough so that it creates a coarse but even mixture.
Cut the phyllo sheets in the same size and shape as your springform pan. I found it easiest to press the pan on top of the sheets and cut around the pan, making sure to go through all of sheets. Save the phyllo scraps for another recipe.
Once you make the baklava by layering the phyllo pastry sheets, butter, and nut mixture, you will have baklava in the shape of a 9 inch circle. Use a pizza cutter to cut 16 even pieces, but don't cut all the way through to the bottom. Lift the baklava carefully using your hands and place it on top of your raw cheesecake mixture in the springform pan. You bake the baklava and cheesecake together as one, which makes this recipe a lot more simple than some of the other ones I have seen!
The recipe makes quite a bit of extra syrup, which is perfect to serve with! I liked having a bit of extra syrup poured over my slice. So make sure you refrigerate the extra syrup in an airtight container for when you serve your cheesecake.
Although this recipe has quite a few steps, it is not complicated. Take your time, read through the instructions carefully, and before you know it you will be enjoying your very own homemade Baklava Cheesecake!
Makes: 1 9-inch cheesecake
1.5 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup melted unsalted butter
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Cheesecake (adapted from www.joyofbaking.com):
32 ounces cream cheese, room temperature (4 bricks of cream cheese)
1 cup granulated white sugar
3 Tbsp all purpose flour
5 large eggs, room temperature
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup melted unsalted butter
1/4 cup granulated white sugar
1/2 cup almonds
1/2 cup walnuts
1 tsp ground cinnamon
12 phyllo pastry sheets
1/2 cup melted unsalted butter (keep this separate - do NOT add to nut mixture)
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
3 Tbsp honey
1 tsp lemon juice
1 cinnamon stick
1. For the crust: In a medium bowl, mix together graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar, melted butter and cinnamon. Press the mixture into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan and 1 inch up the sides. Cover pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
2. For the nut mixture: In a small food processor, add melted butter, white sugar, almonds, walnuts, and ground cinnamon. Pulse 5-6 times or until a course mixture forms. Set aside.
3. For the baklava: On a clean surface, place 12 phyllo pastry sheets. Use your 9-inch springform pan and press it on top of the phyllo pastry sheets. Using a sharp knife, cut around the pan, ensuring you cut through all 12 layers. Remove excess trimmings. Lift springform pan and cover circle phyllo pastry sheets with a damp paper towel to prevent it from drying out.
4. For the baklava: On a parchment paper, place one phyllo sheet circle and brush it with melted butter. Repeat with 3 more phyllo sheets. After 4 phyllo sheets, spoon and spread half of the nut mixture. Place 4 more phyllo sheets on top with melted butter brushed on between the sheets. Spoon the remaining nut mixture on and spread to create an even layer. Finish with final 4 phyllo sheets, brushing melted butter between each sheet. Brush the top layer with melted butter. Using a pizza cutter, cut into 16 even pieces (like a pie), ensuring you don't cut all the way through all of the layers. Set aside.
5. For the cheesecake: Preheat oven to 350oF. In a large bowl, use a hand mixer to beat cream cheese, sugar, and flour until smooth. Scrape the sides of the bowl to ensure mixture is evenly combined. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Scrape the sides of the bowl. Add the whipping cream and vanilla extract and beat until combined. Remove the crust from the refrigerator and pour in the filling. Place the springform pan on a large baking sheet.
6. To assemble: Using both hands, lift baklava round and place in springform pan on top of raw cheesecake mixture. Place springform pan with the large baking sheet in the preheated oven. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
7. For the syrup: In a medium saucepan, bring to a boil water, sugar, honey, lemon juice, cinnamon stick, and cardamom. Lower heat to medium and cook for about 10 minutes or until the syrup thickens slightly. Stir continuously and scrap the sides.
8. Once cheesecake is baked, remove from oven and pour about 5 Tablespoons of syrup over the cheesecake. Refrigerate excess syrup in an airtight container. Using a sharp knife, run around the border of the cheesecake. Let cheesecake cool completely at room temperature. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
9. When serving, cut around the border of the cheesecake again and remove springform pan ring. Serve with baklava syrup on the side.
If you make this recipe, don't forget to share a picture and tag me @NutritionbyNaz on Instagram or Twitter!
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