Filed under: Cheesecakes
November 21, 2021

Baklava Cheesecake

Creamy cheesecake flecked with vanilla beans, flavored lemon juice and encapsulated in the most stunning of crusts: baklava. Layers and layers of crispy buttery phyllo and crunchy nuts contrast wonderfully with the creamy cheesecake. The pie is doused in a simple syrup to hone in on that drippy sweet baklava goodness.

5 from 23 votes
Yield: 12
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The backstory for this is that when my FIL came to visit us after I had my first, I asked what to make him for his birthday which coincided with his stay. He told me his favorite two desserts were cheesecake and baklava.. And with a baby in tow I was not going to make both, so checked online to see if it was doable to do both and used my recipes for each to I combined them into one dish. The pie was SUCH a hit, to him, my MIL and some friends and they’ve all been asking me to make it again ever since =) 

So what is a baklava cheesecake? 

Basically it’s a cheesecake but it has a baklava crust. Or it’s baklava with cheesecake on top. The beauty of this dish is that it does justice to both desserts without compromising either, neither takes over and they pair together so very well. A little tang and tart in the cheesecake offsets the nutty sweetness in the crust; you’ll use the creamy filling to scoop up all the little flaky bits of the crust. It’s just the best really. 

 

 

Recipe Ingredients  

Phyllo: Sheets of phyllo, you’ll need 20. Usually sold and kept frozen, have yours thawed in the fridge for a few hours before you start working with it. 

Ghee: This is similar to but not the same as clarified butter; it has a lot of the moisture removed and is a concentration of butterfats. If you can’t find it, you can use butter. I personally prefer ghee as you get the ‘butteryness’ without the milk solids that can brown too quickly in the oven. 

Nuts: Walnuts and pistachios are traditional but pecans are also wonderful here. Make sure your nuts are toasted and crunchy before you use them (toast them yourself on a sheet pan at 350 for 5-10 minutes to wake them up. If they are raw, you might need up to 12 minutes). 

Cream cheese: Full-fat bricks of cream cheese, at room temperature. 

Sugar: Fine granulated sugar for the nut mixture, the filling and for the syrup. You can use brown in the nut mixture if you like.

Sour cream: Contributes to the creamy and tangy qualities in the filling. Room temp is best. 

Lemon: I like just a little squeeze of lemon in my cheesecake to offset all the sugar.  I also add a bit to the sugar syrup. And if you like, you can zest the lemon *before* juicing it, straight into the cheesecake filling for extra lemon flavor. 

Vanilla: Scrape a vanilla bean if you like, use vanilla extract or even vanilla paste. 

Honey: Not absolutely necessary but makes a wonderful addition to the simple syrup; honey is traditional in the greek version of baklava. 

 

How to make baklava cheesecake 

First make the two fillings

Start with the nuts, chop or process the nuts and then toss them with sugar/cinnamon and a pinch of salt.

Then the cheesecake filling: start by putting the softened cheesecake bricks into a bowl and then using the back of a rubber spatula to press down – this helps remove those lumps. 

Next add the flavorings and sugar, then beat it until creamed. You can do this with a hand mixer or with a stand mixer. 

Then add the sour cream and beat, scrape down the bowl as necessary. 

Add the eggs and beat until *just* incorporated – don’t over beat it. 

Set the filling aside while you make the crust. 

The Baklava Crust 

Most recipes usually suggest keeping the phyllo covered with a damp towel and you can do this if you like. I personally just work fast and don’t mind when the phyllo breaks – it won’t harm the layering. 

Brush the bottom of a springform pan (8 or 9 inches) with ghee or melted butter then layer the first sheet of phyllo. We’ll do ten sheets as the bottom layer – each brushed with ghee. Layer the sheets clockwise so you get an overhang all around the pan. 

Once you have ten on the bottom, add half of the nut mixture and spread it into an even layer. 

Then do another five layers of phyllo, and the rest of the nut mixture. 

Then another five layers of phyllo, then the cheesecake filling: 

So in total you’ll have used twenty sheets of phyllo. Breaking it down: 

  • 10 sheets brushed phyllo
  • half of nut mixture 
  • 5 sheets brushed phyllo
  • other half of nut mixture 
  • 5 sheets phyllo
  • cheesecake filling 

I tend to run my cheesecake filling through a fine mesh sieve to remove any lumps (but I am overly fussy about this=) ) 

And then you can scrunch up the overhang of phyllo over the filling and brush it with the leftover ghee. 

Note: ideally you’ll leave a bit of cheesecake exposed in the center so you can look for the ‘jiggle’ to know if it’s done. 

Place it on a parchment lined baking sheet, some of the ghee is going to leak out of the pan and you don’t want it to smoke up the oven! 

Bake it until the phyllo is golden brown all over and the cheesecake jiggles only a bit in the center. 

While the cheesecake is baking, put all the syrup ingredients in a pot and cook for a few minutes until the sugar has dissolved and is slightly thickened. 

As soon as the cheesecake comes out of the oven, pour the syrup over the edges of the cheesecake (wherever there is phyllo). Once it’s cool you can pop open the ring of the pan. 

 

 

Tips to make a really creamy cheesecake 

  • Use room temperature cream cheese, it should be very soft 
  • Beat the cream cheese until no lumps remain
  • Don’t overbeat the eggs in the batter 
  • Pour the batter through a sieve before it goes into the crust, to remove lumps 
  • Cool the cheesecake slowly 

Recipe for Baklava Cheesecake  



Baklava Cheesecake

Layers and layers of crispy buttery phyllo and crunchy nuts contrast wonderfully with the creamiest cheesecake. The pie is doused in a simple syrup to hone in on that drippy sweet baklava goodness.
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Yields: 12
5 from 23 votes

Ingredients

Baklava Crust

  • 20 phyllo sheets 227g
  • 226 g ghee or melted butter
  • 1 cup pistachios finely chopped or ground
  • 1 cup pecans finely chopped or ground
  • ¼ cup sugar brown or granulated
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Cheesecake Filling

  • 452 g cream cheese two bricks
  • 1 cup granulated sugar 200g
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • ½ cup sour cream or labneh 120g
  • 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon plus the zest of a lemon, if desired
  • two large eggs at room temperature

Honey Syrup

  • ½ cup sugar 100g
  • ¼ cup water 60g
  • ¼ cup honey 85g
  • a few drops of fresh lemon juice optional

Method

  • Prep your ingredients: the cream cheese, eggs and sour cream should be at room temperature before you begin making the filling. The nuts should be finely chopped (not to a powder, but into little bits). Mix together the sugar, cinnamon and ground nuts and set them in a bowl.
  • First, make the filling: In a bowl, beat together the sugar, vanilla and cream cheese until smooth and no lumps remain. Add the sour cream and lemon juice and zest if using, and beat until smooth. Add the eggs and beat to just combine. Pour the filling into a bowl through a sieve to remove any remaining lumps.
  • Make the crust: If your ghee is thick, warm it up in the microwave so it’s liquid and easy to brush onto the phyllo. Use a 9 or 10″ round springform pan, laying a sheet of parchment on the bottom and buckling it closed. Then begin layering the first ten sheets of phyllo: place the first sheet so it mostly covers the bottom of the pan but also comes up and folds over the side of the pan. Brush with ghee all over then place the second sheet so it also covers the bottom but only partially covers the top part – it’ll be slightly askew, covering the first sheet only halfway. Do this with ten sheets for the bottom layer, arranging each a little more clockwise so that you are covering the whole pan. After you have the tenth layer, brush with ghee and evenly sprinkle on half the nut mixture. Lay a sheet of phyllo on top and arrange 4 more on top of the nuts (each brushed with ghee and layered a bit askew to cover the whole pan). Spread remaining nut mixture then repeat the process with another 5 sheets of phyllo.
  • Pour the cheesecake mixture into the center of the unbaked phyllo crust. Scrunch up the sides of the phyllo that were laying over the edge into a ruffled shape (it’s okay if it tears and it need not be pretty).
  • Bake the cheesecake on a sheet pan (the ghee tends to seep out and you don’t want a mess in the oven) at 325 F for about 60-70 minutes. Toward the end of baking, make the syrup: in a small pot set the water, sugar and honey (and a pinch of salt if you are like me and can’t help yourself) to cook on medium heat. Stir so the sugar dissolves then cook it for about 7 minutes, until it gets a bit thick. Off the heat, add the few drops of lemon juice, if desired.
  • When the cheesecake comes out of the oven, pour the syrup over the cheesecake – focusing mostly on the sides rather than the exposed center of the cheesecake. Let cool and then chill in the fridge overnight.
  • Store in the fridge, serve cold.

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31 comments

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Recipe Reviews




  1. 5 stars
    Beautiful and delicious. I made it exactly as written, and it turned out perfect. Such an impressive dessert, and relatively easy. Highly recommend!

  2. 5 stars
    Made this for my birthday and it was absolutely divine. It reminded me of vanilla ice cream on baklava. I was a little skeptical since it doesn’t call to prebake the crust or cook the cheesecake in a water bath but I’m glad I made it. I did make a few adjustments: I misread the instructions and only bought pistachios, so I only used those for the nuts. I used salted brown butter and I highly recommend. I also added more philo dough on the top. I folded it into pleats and put them in a circular pattern to look like a flower and topped with extra pistachios. Go make this!!!

  3. Hey there, I made this for my dad’s 81 birthday. I took it out of the springform, and noticed that it is pretty soggy. Is there anyway to crisp it up before serving tomorrow?

    • Hi, this can happen for a few reasons: the phyllo might’ve been underbaked if it got soggy (it crisps up in the oven) or there was too much butter brushed onto the phyllo during the layering. (. If you haven’t put the syrup on it yet, you could try putting it back in the oven to crisp it (maybe with a little oil on the bottom of the pan – assuming you’ve already taken it out of the springform). If you have put the syrup already I’d give it the night in the fridge and see if that helps it firm up. Hope it works out for him!

  4. Thinking of making this for Valentines Day dessert in a heart shaped cheesecake pan. Also thinking of adding orange blossom water to the syrup. Do you think this will work ok?

  5. 5 stars
    This is a stellar dessert! My husband said that this is one of the most unique desserts he has ever had. Love all of the flavors and am looking forward to making it again!

  6. 5 stars
    I wish I could also add a picture…?? This came out beyond stunning and tasty! I married into a Greek family and being Italian, I was petrified to try my hand at a Greek anything for fear of it not being great. So beyond easy to follow and yummy. I’ve shared the recipe a handful of times already! Thank you!

  7. For the almond crust, I meant almond flour + sugar + butter. Also, if I wanted to make this in a 9×13 pan for a larger crowd, would you recommend increasing the recipe by x0.5 or doubling it?

    • amna if you’re looking for just the filling and not interested in the ‘baklava’ part of the cheesecake I’d suggest having a look at my ‘shortbread cheesecake bars’. If you’ve made an almond crust before and know it works well then it would be a fine base for those bars. If you want to make it in a large pan, consider you probably won’t have a pan big enough for the water bath which will give it that very creamy texture, so I’d just make the recipe twice.

  8. I’ve made this twice and it was amazing each time! I was wondering if I could use the cheesecake base in this recipe and modify it a bit. Would it be okay to add 1 tsp of rosewater and ground cardamom to the cheesecake batter, and bake it on an almond crust instead of the baklava crust?

  9. 5 stars
    I made this for a family iftar, and it was a great hit! I got great comments both about the look and the taste. I omitted the honey since I’m not fond of the taste, and it turned out perfect. I so wish there was a way to cook the baklava layer by itself for a while before adding the cheesecake, I missed some extra crunch in the bottom. As others have commented, don’t let the phyllo scare you – it was so easy to work with since it doesn’t have to be perfect. Will definitely make this many more times!

    • Sofie, I’m so happy everyone loved it for iftar! I agree about the crunch (and in an ideal world I’d be able to have the cheesecake in a waterbath). maybe there’s a future for this as a no-bake 😉

  10. Do you think it would be okay if I made this on Thursday to be eaten Friday evening? Just trying to figure out if there are any components I can make ahead of time!

  11. 5 stars
    Made this for Christmas and was a HUGE hit with the family. Flew off the dessert table. Recipe was easy to follow and loved how creamy and bright the cheesecake was. Total showstopper!

  12. Hello! Please help! Making this recipe tomorrow. What pistachios do I buy? Roasted and salted? Shelled? Lightly salted? Raw? I’m very excited to bake this cheesecake :).

    • If you get raw you’ll need to toast them before you use them. Shelled makes things easier (you won’t have to open them yourself) but they’re pricey. Roasted is fine, salted is fine too!

  13. 5 stars
    This was incredibly delicious and very well received by my friends. I used a 10″ pan and did line the bottom with parchment just because I was paranoid about sticking. The phyllo I had was 18 sheets in a box so I tweaked the recipe rather than thawing a second box. I went 9 layers, 4 and 5 and it seemed to work out perfectly.
    My one friend says it’s the best thing I’ve ever made which I’ll take as a win. First time making either baklava or cheesecake. This recipe made it easy to do. It was good enough I had to give away most of it to make sure I didn’t eat it all myself.

  14. 5 stars
    I’ve never made a cheesecake before because they seemed intimidating but after seeing a photo of this cheesecake that a friend made for Thanksgiving, I couldn’t get it out of my head. This was the easiest recipe ever to follow and the results were amazing, even my mom who doesn’t like cheesecake had seconds. I’ll put a piece of parchment paper down below the first layer of phyllo to prevent sticking the next time I make it, and I added some pomegranate arils to the top after baking to help cut sweetness a little, but otherwise don’t change a thing!

  15. 5 stars
    Fabulous recipe – made for a work colleagues birthday and everyone thought it looked beautiful and tasted even better. I had been thinking about what to make and then it popped up while I was scrolling my instagram feed and I instantly knew that was what I was going to make.

  16. 5 stars
    Delicious. Perfection. Phyllo is a pain but considering it doesn’t have to be perfect in this recipe, as long as it’s layered, don’t be afraid of it. If you love baklava and cheesecake MAKE THIS!! I took half of it to work and it got rave reviews from a bunch of bakers, so you know it’s good.