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: room temperature cream cheese, eggs, more honey, lemon zest, salt, vanilla, and cornstarch.
So, let’s get to our baking project!
Combine the Nut Mixture
Although there are a few stages in the preparation of this dessert, they’re all pretty quick and easy to accomplish. Starting with the nut mixture that you’ll sprinkle over every fifth layer of phyllo.
In a small bowl, mix together the crushed nuts, cinnamon, ginger, and cardamom- just use your hand. Set this bowl aside.
Layer the Baklava Crust
One thing that’s very important to know about working with phyllo dough is this: work fast and keep it covered. Phyllo dough is suuuuuper thin and dries out quickly. Because of this, you should keep the dough covered with a piece of plastic wrap. Covering it will keep it from drying out too fast. Also, try to work fast because when phyllo dries out it turns to something akin to dried parchment. It’ll crumble and disintegrate.
To cut the phyllo use the sharpest knife you own, or, better yet, a lame. A dull knife will tear the phyllo instead of cutting it. Remove one roll of phyllo from the box and unroll the dough on your cutting surface. Use the bottom insert of a 9″ springform pan as your cutting guide to cut the dough out into a circle. The leftover scraps will be used later (if you want). Just wrap the scraps in plastic wrap and store in them in the fridge for now.
Brush a thin layer of melted butter onto the bottom of the cheesecake pan using your pastry brush. Place a circle of phyllo dough onto the buttered insert. Brush another thin layer of butter onto this circle of phyllo dough. Place a second layer of dough onto the first and brush again. Repeat this process with the 3rd, 4th, and 5th layers of dough.
Nuts! And a note about buttering the layers
Brush the 5th layer of phyllo with another light layer of butter. Sprinkle a handful of nuts (about a 1/2 cup) onto this 5th layer. Use your fingers to spread the nuts over the surface of the phyllo disc.
Because phyllo won’t stick together without some help, be sure to butter the top of each top layer.
Repeat the process of layering and buttering the phyllo dough until you have three layers of nuts. So, you should have 5 layers of dough, 1/2 cups of nuts, 5 layers of dough, 1/2 cup of nuts, 5 layers of dough, the last of the nuts, and the remaining dough. Just use up however many layers of dough remain in the roll.
Brush the top layer of dough with butter.
Score, then Bake the Baklava
After assembling the baklava, carefully place the pan’s insert inside the collar. Don’t forget to clamp the collar shut! Why, yes, I have made this mistake before. Thanks for asking.
Press the dough down to make sure it’s sits in the bottom of the pan. Use your lame (or sharp knife) to score the dough in a diamond pattern. This will help the baklava soak up the honey lemon syrup we’re going to drizzle over it.
Bake the baklava in a 350°F for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown.
Prepare the Baklava Honey Syrup
While your baklava is baking, prepare the honey-lemon syrup. It’s best to get it going shortly after you begin baking the pastry since you need to pour it over the baklava as soon as it comes out of the oven.
In a small saucepan stir together the granulated sugar and the water. Bring the mixture up to a boil, stirring constantly to encourage the sugar to dissolve. Once the sugar is dissolved, reduce the heat to low and stir in the honey, lemon juice, and vanilla extract. Allow the syrup to simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes.
The syrup will thicken slightly and no granules of sugar should remain. Set the syrup to the side for now.
Flavor the Baklava
Once the crust has finished baking, pour half of the syrup over the hot baklava. Save the rest of the syrup for pouring over the finished Honey Cheesecake later.
Set the crust aside to cool for 10 minutes. Once the pan is cool enough to handle, wrap the bottom and sides in two layers of heavy duty aluminum foil. Set the pan aside while you mix the cheesecake batter.
Begin the Honey Cheesecake Batter
In a large mixing bowl, use your electric hand mixer or stand mixer to blend the cream cheese, vanilla, lemon zest, and salt on medium speed until smooth. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl and beaters.
Add the eggs to the mixture, one at a time. Be sure to scrape down the bowl and beaters after each egg has been mixed in.
Use fluid honey in your cheesecake batter
Add the honey to the batter and mix until it is fully incorporated. You need fluid (or runny honey). If you’re a raw honey user, just warm and stir it until it’s fluid before adding it to the batter.
Scrape the bowl and beaters once again, then add the cornstarch to the batter. Blend the cornstarch into the batter- this time on low speed- just until it’s mixed in. Over-mixing the batter once the cornstarch has been added will result in a gummy cheesecake.
Bake, then “Sauce” the Honey Cheesecake
Pour the prepared Honey Cheesecake batter onto the baklava crust.
Set the foil-wrapped pan into a larger pan, then pour boiling water into the outer (larger) pan to create a water bath (read about bain maries here). This technique makes over-baking the cheesecake virtually impossible as it creates a temperature-regulated environment in which to bake the cheesecake.
Carefully place the pan in the preheated oven and bake for 1 hour.
If you’d like to add a little flair to your Honey Cheesecake, decorate the top with those leftover scraps of phyllo dough. After an hour of baking, carefully furl the phyllo dough scraps into waves and set them on top of the cheesecake. Continue to bake the cheesecake for another 15-20 minutes, or until the phyllo dough is golden brown. Once the topping has browned, pour the rest of the honey lemon syrup on top of the baking cheesecake. Just pull the rack out and douse the cheesecake in that syrup.
If you’re not into decorating, just pull the oven rack out and douse the cheesecake in that remaining honey-lemon syrup. Return the rack to the oven, turn the oven off, and prop the oven door open to allow the cheesecake to cool gradually for 1 hour.
After the cheesecake has gradually cooled in the oven, remove it from the oven. Carefully remove the cheesecake from the water-filled pan, then remove and discard the protective layer of foil. Allow the cheesecake to cool completely on the countertop, then transfer it to the refrigerator to cool for at least 6 hours. I like to cool my cheesecake overnight so it’s completely set when I cut it.
Enjoy your Honey Cheesecake in its Baklava Crust!
Once chilled throughout, use a very sharp knife to cut through the decorative layer of phyllo dough and down through that baklava crust.
This Honey Cheesecake dessert is a recipe with genius-level status. It is always a hit whenever and wherever I serve it. My daughter has declared it her, “Most favorite dessert of all time!” I’m sure, that is, until I create the next dessert.
Store your Honey Cheesecake with Baklava Crust in the refrigerator. Cover any exposed parts of its interior with a piece of wax paper pressed up against the exposed cheesecake. This will keep it from becoming crusty and hard.
Be sure to pin this recipe and let me know how you liked it in the comments below!
Honey Cheesecake with Baklava Crustat Sense & Edibility
- 9" springform pan
- sharp knife
- 1 1/2 cups chopped nuts
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger optional
- 1/4 teaspoons ground cardamom optional
- 16 ounce package phyllo dough, thawed (you'll only use half of the package or 1 roll)
- 1 stick unsalted butter melted
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice (save the peel for zesting later)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 8 ounce packages cream cheese at room temperature
- 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 large eggs
- 1 cup honey fluid
- 1/3 cup cornstarch
Assemble the Baklava Crust
- Preheat your oven to 350°F. In a small bowl, use your hand to combine the chopped nuts, cinnamon, ginger, and cardamom. Set the nuts aside.
- Unroll one roll of the phyllo dough from the box. Place the insert of your cheesecake pan on top of the stack of phyllo sheets and use a very sharp knife to cut the phyllo into a circle. Wrap the scraps in plastic wrap and store in them in the fridge to use later.
- Using a pastry brush, brush a thin layer of melted butter onto the bottom of the cheesecake pan. Place a circle of phyllo dough onto the buttered insert. Brush the phyllo with another thin layer of butter, then place a second layer of dough onto the first. Brush this layer of dough with butter.Repeat this process with the 3rd, 4th, and 5th layers of dough.
- After brushing the 5th layer of phyllo with butter, sprinkle this layer with a 1/2 cup of nuts. Spread the nuts into an even layer over the surface of the phyllo disc. Repeat the process of layering and buttering the phyllo dough until you have three layers of nuts. You should have: 5 layers of dough, 1/2 cups of nuts, 5 layers of dough, 1/2 cup of nuts, 5 layers of dough, the last of the nuts, and the remaining dough. Use up all the dough that's left for the top of the baklava.Brush the top layer of dough with butter.
Bake the Baklava
- After the baklava has been assembled, carefully place the pan's insert inside the collar. Make sure to shut the collar's clamp.Press the dough down to make sure it's sits in the bottom of the pan. Use a sharp knife to score the dough in a diamond pattern. Bake the baklava in the preheated oven 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown.
Prepare the Honey Syrup
- While the baklava is baking, stir together the granulated sugar and the water in a small saucepan. Bring the mixture up to a boil, stirring constantly to encourage the sugar to dissolve.
- Once the sugar is dissolved, reduce the heat to low and stir in the honey, lemon juice, and vanilla extract. Allow the syrup to simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes.
- The syrup will thicken slightly and no granules of sugar should remain. Set the syrup to the side for now.
Finish the Baklava Crust
- Once the crust has finished baking, remove it from the oven and immediately pour half of the syrup over the hot baklava. Save the rest of the syrup for pouring over the finished Honey Cheesecake later. Allow the pan to cool, then wrap the bottom and sides in two layers of heavy duty aluminum foil. Set the pan aside while you mix the cheesecake batter.
Mix the Honey Cheesecake Batter
- Bring a pot of water to a boil for the water bath which you'll bake the cheesecake in. Set out a pan that is large enough to hold the cheesecake pan with at least a 1 1/2" space between the two pans.
- In a large mixing bowl, blend together the cream cheese, vanilla, lemon zest, and salt on medium speed until smooth. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl and beaters.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, to the mixture, scraping down the bowl and beaters after each egg has been mixed in. Blend the batter for 3 minutes on medium-low speed.
- Pour the honey into the batter and mix until it is fully incorporated. Scrape the bowl and beaters once again, then add the cornstarch to the batter. Blend the cornstarch into the batter, on low speed, just until it's mixed in. Don't over-mix the batter once the cornstarch has been added.
Bake and Glaze the Honey Cheesecake
- Pour the prepared Honey Cheesecake batter onto the baklava crust.Set the foil-wrapped pan into the larger pan, then pour the boiling water into the outer (larger) pan.
- Carefully place the pan in the preheated oven and bake for 1 hour. Optional Decoration: After an hour of baking, carefully furl the reserved phyllo dough scraps into waves and arrange them on top of the cheesecake. Continue to bake the cheesecake for another 15-20 minutes, or until the phyllo dough is golden brown.
- Once the topping has browned, pull the oven rack out and pour the remaining honey syrup over the surface of the cheesecake. If you chose not to decorate the surface, just pull the oven rack out and douse the cheesecake in that remaining honey-lemon syrup.
- Push the rack with the cheesecake on it back into the oven, then turn the oven off and prop the oven door open with a wooden spoon. Allow the cheesecake to cool gradually for 1 hour.
Chill the Cheesecake Thoroughly
- Remove the pan from the oven after the cheesecake has cooled for an hour. Carefully remove the cheesecake from the water-filled pan, then remove and discard the foil.
- Allow the cheesecake to cool completely on the countertop, then transfer it to the refrigerator to cool for at least 6 hours (preferably overnight). Once completely chilled, serve using a very sharp knife to cut through the decorative layer of phyllo dough and down through the baklava crust.
- Store any leftover cheesecake in the refrigerator. Press wax or parchment paper against any exposed sections of cheesecake to keep it from growing crusty or dried out.
I’m the Queen of Dessert Mash-ups!
Check out these other fantastic combos:
Crème Brûlée Pie
Black Forest Cheesecake
Thanks for sharing this honey cheesecake with baklava crust! Does it keep long?
You’re welcome, Vanessa! It will lat up to four days after baking it.
This honey cheesecake with baklava crust was so good! What a great way to enjoy two desserts at once!
It’s efficiently delicious, Suzanne!
My cheesecake is baking in the oven, which gives me time to provide my comment regarding my confusion with the recipe. Half of the honey lemon syrup goes on the top of the crust and half goes on the top of the cheesecake once out of the oven. What then is the 1 cup of honey fluid that goes into the cheesecake along with the cream cheese?
That 1 cup of honey should’ve gone into your cheesecake batter as instructed in step 4. Without it, your cheesecake filling won’t be sweet.
Stumbled across this recipe a few months back and thought it would be good for Christmas day, so Hubby and i made 2 for Christmas day and boxing day, everyone was hanging to try it and it did not disappoint at all, everyone loved it.
Thank you, Simone. So glad it was a hit!
Just made this!!
Super excited about it ~ it’s still cooling but I know it’s going to be delicious!
Not sure how to post a picture but it’s beautiful!
I’m so excited for you to taste it! Feel free to tag me if you post it on social media (@senseandedibility)!