Baklawa Cheesecake

Let the record show, I hate working with fillo dough.  I’ve been itching to try this recipe for years.  Yes, years.  But my aversion to fillo dough has kept me away.  And what gives? Is it fillo or phyllo? Can we please stick with one spelling. It’s like rice crispy and rice krispie. Doughnut and donut.   Or when Arabs greet each other, one kiss on the cheek or two? Okay now I’m annoyed.

Moving on.

If I was going to make baklawa cheesecake, I needed a really good reason to face down my fillo dough nemesis.  Simply baking up an incredible dessert to eat all by my lonesome wasn’t going to cut it.  So, I decided I would make it for my oldest sister.  Perhaps you’re wondering, ‘Well, what’s so special about that?‘  Or maybe you’re not. But for the sake of this post continuing on smoothly, let’s pretend you are.  I digress.

My sister has been on sugar lock down due to her gestational diabetes. Sorry, too much info? Well her beautiful baby girl has arrived (I’m an auntie again!) and my sister is free! Still not enough reason?  Well it’s Amena (it was getting tiresome to keep saying ‘my sister’) that inspired me to start sewing and influenced an interest in baking.  Her infamous carrot cake, that she refuses to release the recipe, is hands down my favorite.

My long, drawn out point? Amena deserved and would appreciate a dessert like this.

Baklawa/Baklava Cheesecake {Adapted from Athens Award Winning Fillo Dough Recipes}

Ingredients:

  • 1 12 oz. package of sugar cookies, crumbled fine (I used Nilla wafers)
  • 1/2 c. butter, softened
  • 4  8 oz. packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla, optional (I skipped this)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, cubed
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 10 sheets of fillo dough
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup Arabic attar, or simple syrup, or light corn syrup, heated

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  To prepare crust: Pulse cookies in a food processor to form fine crumbs.  If you don’t have a food processor, use a rolling pin to crush the cookies in a large ziplock bag.  If using a food processor, add the 1/2 cup softened butter and pulse until incorporated.  No processor, mix with a fork or by hand.  Really get it in there.

Press crumbs on bottom and up sides of 9 inch spring-form pan.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool.

2.  To prepare the cheesecake:  In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar on high speed about 10 minutes (in a stand mixer or with a hand mixer) until fluffy.  Add the lemon juice, vanilla (if using),  and one egg at a time.  Beat until smooth.

3.  To prepare baklawa:  Combine walnuts, sugar, butter and cinnamon in a bowl and mix until crumbly.  Note: I did not get crumbly.  I got a ball of butter with walnuts in it.  I proceeded anyways.  Next time I think I’ll reduce the butter to 1/4 cup. Cut fillo sheets into 9 inch rounds.  I used my spring-form pan as a stencil. Using the warm melted butter, brush 5 sheets of fillo individually and set on top of the cheesecake filling. (Brush sheet with butter, place on top, brush sheet with butter, place on top, etc.)

On top of the first 5 sheets of fillo dough rounds, sprinkle with the baklawa walnut mixture.  The recipe says “sprinkle”, I flattened mounds in my hand and placed them on top. Butter and layer 5 sheets of fillo and place on top. Important: I missed the following next step! Just noticed it as I’m typing out the recipe. Layer and butter another 5 fillo sheets, lightly score into 10 equal sections without cutting all the way to center or outer edge.  Place on top of cheesecake.

4.  Place on a baking sheet and bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until golden brown.  My cheesecake was still a bit jiggly, so I turned off the oven and left the door slightly ajar with a wooden spoon for 20-30 minutes. Spoon warm simple syrup over cheesecake while still warm.  (Since I unknowingly skipped the scoring step, my syrup just fell off the sides.) Cool to room temperature.  Refrigerate overnight for best results before slicing.

The verdict: I’m not waiting for Amena next time.

It was so good.  So. Good.  I loved the creaminess of the cheesecake combined with the cinnamon-y crunch of the baklawa layer.  I wished there was a more crispy fillo dough layer, but after typing out the recipe, I realized there should have been one!  Next time I’ll make a crust like this one, using walnuts instead of almonds.  I can’t wait to attempt this again with the changes.  I can only imagine how much better it’ll taste. I loved it.

Oh yeah, and Amena liked it too.  Mission, accomplished.

Aaaaand, I’m no longer afraid of fillo/phyllo/whatever-it’s-called dough.  I’m talking to you, Spanakopita.

Have you ever avoided certain recipes only to find out that they’re not that difficult once you’ve attempted them?

 

24 Comments

  • Mariam Emneina says:

    LORD HAVE MERCY!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I’m actually not much of a cheesecake fan. I hate the overly richness of it…..but this is definitely one to make & try. So unique!!!

    • Amnah says:

      Mariam, I think you’ll like it! If nothing else, since you like baking, you’ll find satisfaction in preparing it. Let me know what you think.

  • Big Sis says:

    I’ll be coming in November and would greatly appreciate this cake as well. Your reason to make it for me will be the fact that we haven’t seen each other in almost a year, I have not had any sugar, not because of pregnancy, but because I would like to lose some weight, so that I don’t look pregnant. And also I’m your big sister too 😉
    Yes, I avoid certain recipes, usually all of them. When I attempt one I’ll let you know if it was difficult or not. But most probably yes, it will be!

    • Amnah says:

      Now what kind of sister would I be if I sabotaged your weight loss with this luscious cheesecake?

  • yasmine says:

    Salaam
    This looks absolutely delicious! Thanks for sharing!

  • Majida says:

    Looks amazing thanks for taking all this time to share this recipe i have got to make this for my baba he is a big fan of cheesecake & baklava! I would try it with pistachios I bet it will be a big hit! Thanks for sharing!

    • Amnah says:

      Thank you! You’re welcome. Pistachios would make an awesome baklawa topping for this cheesecake. Even though I love pistachios, I personally prefer my baklawa with walnuts. I can’t wait to see the pics of your cheesecake! Let me know how Amo Hussien likes the dessert 🙂

  • yusra says:

    i cannot WAIT to try this! thanks for posting the recipe… i’m drooling already:P

  • yusra says:

    ok i had no idea you were iman’s sister! my sisters and I know her from Dallas! LOVE your blog btw:)

    • Amnah says:

      Small world, right? I hope you have success with the recipe! Thank you for your kind comments.

  • Alejandra says:

    This looks fabulous! I think I’ve found our Eid dessert. Though, we’ll have to give it a test run.

    • Amnah says:

      Thanks! A test run is a great idea. This was the first time I made it and I realized I missed steps and found ways to improve. I can’t wait to try my second attempt. Hope you like it!

  • Nadia says:

    Allahu Akbar!!!!! That is all I have to say…lol

  • OK so now I’m hungry and have no clue how to bake that and even if I did it would come out like mush. Wah!

    • Amnah says:

      The very first time I attempted chocolate chip cookies, they came out of the oven as an entire sheet of cookie. Now, that may not sound like a bad thing, but that was not my intention. So I tried again, same thing. The third time, I thought it was the oven light being on that affected the baking, so I turned it off. The moral of the story: If at first you don’t succeed, get a new recipe. The real moral of the story: Don’t be afraid to try!!

  • Raana says:

    I’m with Mariam Emneina! This looks soooo amazing and it’s so unique. I will definitely try it inshaAllah.

    Great blog, mashaAllah. Love everything, especially the crafts. Will make the prayer mat with my little one tomorrow 🙂

    • Amnah says:

      Thank you for your kind comments! I hope you have success with the cheesecake and the craft 🙂

  • You are a true inspiration. I have been reading your blog for an hour now when I should really be doing my work!!(i’m a grad student)
    This cake looks fantastic! I can’t wait to make it!! Your daughters a little beams of sunshine!
    Well done!!

    • Amnah says:

      Awww, thank you! Good luck with your studies and the cake 🙂 Thank you for your sweet compliments.

  • maria aimen says:

    I can’t wait to try this inshaAllah! I will substitute the walnuts for pistachios though, I’m mildly allergic to walnuts. I’m so excited! This is a mic of my two favorite things!

  • maria aimen says:

    Sorry, mix, not mic.

  • Jennifer says:

    Amnah was kind enough to make this delicious dessert for the Givelight Global Bistro held on 4-19-14 and the proceeds from those of us purchasing slices of her delicious were donated to Givelight. I have never tasted and wanted more of such a wonderful dessert – the other ladies at the event were also raving about the Baklava Cheesecake. Thank you for providing the recipe, my attempt at making it will hopefully taste as good as yours.

  • Congratulations on the new niece! And on finally getting around to making this recipe for the benefit of your readers… looks so interesting and delicious. Can’t wait to try it!

  • Faaiza.O says:

    Amnah!!! I just found this, you have a recipe too!!!! Your version looks amazing!!! Yum!!!!!!!!!

  • Hana says:

    Salam This looks amazing! Me and my husband love cheesecake So I really wana try to make this but cheesecake makes me nervous haha. Just to be clear you put 5 layers of the fillo dough on top of the cream cheese then put the walnut mixture then again another layer of the fillo dough? Right?

  • Arabyana says:

    Wait! Is this 4x 8 oz. of cream cheese?

    This is uncomfortably fatty and rich! Even if it was made with light cream!

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