We are completely smitten with this cheesecake by Marta Rivera of Sense & Edibility! A smooth creamy cheesecake is fragranced with honey and lemon and is framed by crisp flaky phyllo pastry and sweet nuts spiced with warming cinnamon, ginger, and cardamom. The combination of textures is fantastic; the phyllo and nuts in the baklava layer provide just enough textural interest to complement the decadently silky cheesecake. We love to use traditional walnuts in the baklava or add pistachios for a subtle green hue. The cheesecake is finished with a gorgeously abstract bouquet of phyllo waves that get generously glazed with honey lemon syrup that is simply to die for! Rivera writes that this cheesecake "is a recipe with genius-level status" and we couldn't agree more!
Let’s face it, these days we all have some extra time on our hands. Even I, a work from home, homeschool (not quarantine school) mom of teenage twins, have a bit more time on my hands. So, while we’re confined to the four walls of our homes, why not explore new recipes? This week, go out and try to procure the ingredients to make this Honey Cheesecake with Baklava Crust.
WHAT IS BAKLAVA?
Baklava is a sweet pastry made with phyllo dough and nuts, which is later doused in a honey-lemon syrup. Most popular in the Middle East and the Mediterranean, it became my daughter’s obsession when she took her first bite at the age of 6. You can find one of my versions of Baklava here.
Phyllo, baklava’s base, is a very thin sheet of dough that requires patience and skill to make. One of my assignments in culinary school was to make phyllo without breaking the dough. For each hole you punctured into the sheet, you were docked points. I ended up with a B-. As a result, I have never again attempted to make phyllo dough. Buying it is the only way it will show up in my home.
Nuts are another prominent part of baklava. No one in my family loves walnuts, which is the most common nut used in traditional baklava. Because of their ambivalence to walnuts, I mix them with pistachios, pecans, and cashews in equal amounts.
Finally, the honey-lemon syrup. This simple syrup is poured over the pastry right after it comes out of the oven. Because the mission is to keep the baklava as crisp as possible, the pastry has to be hot when the syrup is poured over it. That way the dessert absorbs the syrup while still maintaining its crispness.
HONEY CHEESECAKE WITH BAKLAVA CRUST SHOPPING LIST
To prepare the baklava crust, you’ll need a package of Athens Phyllo Dough. You will only use half of the box for this recipe, but who’s going to be upset that you’ll have enough dough leftover to make a second cheesecake? No one. That’s who.
For the rest of the baklava crust, you’ll need 1 1/2 cups of crushed nuts. Again, this can be your favorite nut or a combination of whatever nuts you have in the pantry. Just crush them in a food processor or chop them with your knife. Cinnamon, ginger, and cardamom- the latter two being optional- will be used to season the nuts. Melted unsalted butter will be brushed between each layer of phyllo dough to produce its characteristically flaky texture.
The honey-lemon syrup is made with, yes, you’ve guessed it: honey and lemon juice. You’ll also need sugar, water, and vanilla.
The Honey Cheesecake part of this dessert is simple: r