Happy October! If you live in LA you are finally experiencing some cooler temperatures at night... time to bust out those sweaters! With Fall officially upon us, for my family and I that means birthday after birthday after birthday until the end of the year.
Although I made 3 cakes the past week I never actually took any great pictures of them but this week was my moms birthday. My mom is so into her sweet tooth that she has driven in traffic to get a slice of cake from her favorite bakery (this is very very true). Granted she has never really complained about any of my cakes or other desserts I make I really wanted to wow her with something extra because she's EXTRA (got it from my momma).
Behold the greatest combination of an American classic dessert mixed with a Middle Eastern twist, BAKLAVA CHEESECAKE, or as my family has named it UMAMI CAKE.
If you have never had Baklava before then you are seriously missing out on an explosion of flavors in your mouth. Baklava is a pastry made of layers of phylo(fi-lo) dough filled with chopped nuts and sweetened with honey then baked to a golden perfection. When you bite into a piece of baklava and hear that crunch, you are taken to another world.
This cheesecake is a show stopper, it looks delicate and complicated but in reality it is so easy anyone can do it. Let's just say the moment I released it from the spring form pan it was a sigh of relief and the looks on my families faces were priceless.
Electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (a handheld on works great too!)
9 in Spring form pan
2 mixing bowls
Food Processor (I used my Nutri-bullet)
The Phylo outer crust:
9 sheets of phylo dough (I use the Apollo Brand #4)
1/2 cup unsalted melted butter
2 cups roasted Pistachios (you can use the lightly salted ones as well)
2 cups chopped walnuts
1/2 cup unsalted melted butter
2 tablespoons orange blossom water
The Cheesecake filling:
3 cups cream cheese (softened to room temperature)
1/2 cup honey (I love raw & unfiltered honey, like Nature Nate's)
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp rose water
1 cup Pistachios
1 cup Walnuts
1 1/2 cups honey
1 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp orange blossom water
To make the Phylo outer crust:
Preheat you oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and grease your 9 inch spring form pan very well.
Melt 1/2 a cup of butter and set aside. Carefully open the roll of phylo dough onto a clean surface. Once you have opened it all the way it should be a 9 x 14 rectangle. Place on sheet of phylo dough onto your work surface and brush with melted butter. Fold the rectangle in half width-wise and brush with melted butter again. Fold that rectangle again into half and brush again with a pastry brush. Place this inside your spring form pan length wise starting from the center of the pan leaving about 2 inches draping over the top of the pan. Repeat this process 8 more times (do not complain its worth it). Once you are done with all 9 sheets, your entire spring form pan should look like a flower opening up.
To make the Crust:
In a food processor (I used my Nutri-bullet) add the pistachios and walnuts and chop until crumbly.Add orange blossom water and pulse a few times to combine. In a medium sized bowl empty the pistachios and walnuts and with a spatula mix in the melted butter. The mixture should be firm and all the pieces should be stuck together.
Once everything is well incorporated empty the entire portion into your spring form pan and press down. I like to use the back end of a cup to evenly spread the crust and to press all the little pieces that are sticking up, down. Once down set aside.
To make the Cheesecake filling:
In the bowl of a stand mixer (you can use a hand held one as well), start beating the cream cheese with your paddle attachment until light and fluffy. Add the honey and the eggs one at time. Once the eggs are incorporated add lemon juice, vanilla, and rose water. Mix until everything is well combined.
Pour the cheesecake filling on top of your crust, spread evenly, and bake for 40-45 mins, or until the sides are no longer jiggly. Do not poke the cheesecake with a toothpick to check if the center is set. The best way to test if a cheesecake is set (done) gently shake the cheesecake. If only a small circle in the center jiggles slightly then its done.
For the topping, be sure to do this 2 hours before serving as you do not want it to firm up. You want it to ooze as you cut through and serve this masterpiece.
In a food processor add the remainder of your pistachios and walnuts and roughly pulse them. You want it to still have a crunch but not be whole. In a small bowl combine the nut mixture, honey, lemon juice, and orange blossom water and mix until well combined. This shouldn't be too thick or too thin, you want it to glide off a spoon versus fall off.
Release your cheesecake from the spring form pan, breathe, then add the topping. This can sit out for about 1-2 hours in a cool room, preferably indoors. Once you are ready to cut this will serve 12-14 people and will be the greatest flavor combination EVER.
I hope you love this cheesecake as much as my family and I have. Leave a comment or ask me a question below!