We recently hosted a birthday party for a good friend of ours, Jack. When we were planning said party and asked Jack what sort of birthday dessert he would like, he asked for chocolate cake. Sam said “Jack, that’s fine and all, but Lolo really loves to cook, and very rarely gets to bake since we don’t eat a lot of baked goods at home. You can really ask for something more than just chocolate cake.” Later I received a text message probing about the possibility of cheesecake. Now, I make a mean cheesecake. It’s my mom’s recipe, with lots of sour cream in it and chocolate sauce marbled in to the top. I have no idea how many times I’ve made it, its a piece of cake (so to speak). Then I get another text. “How about baklava cheesecake? Is such a thing even possible?” Uhhh…googling…yup, apparently it is possible, damn you. And so, I promised to take on the challenge of making the most complicated dessert I’ve ever made. And I did. And it was awesome.
DISCLAIMER: THIS CAKE TAKES LIKE TWO DAYS TO MAKE. DOWNLOAD A GOOD AUDIOBOOK.
The recipe itself is quite long, and I did follow it almost exactly. Here are my notes from where I deviated:
- I did not worry about clarifying the butter, just used regular unsalted butter that I melted in the microwave, and it turned out great.
- For the initial crust, I found that the pieces of phyllo dough were not long enough to cover the entire bottom of the pan and leave a 5″ overhang as the recipe suggests. So instead I rotated the pan slightly with each piece of dough, placing it so that the top edge of the dough met up with the top edge of the springform pan, overlapping the pieces so eventually there was full coverage on the bottom and sides of the springform pan. I then poured the cake batter in the pan, and made a separate top for the cake out of phyllo dough rounds. I cut out the rounds (after buttering and layering on parchment paper) by putting a 10-inch dinner plate upside down on the stack of dough and tracing the outside with a pizza cutter. Then I placed the dough rounds right on top of the cheesecake. Here is what it looked like after baking and after I removed the springform ring:
- I ended up using one whole package of phyllo dough from World Market. I’ve also seen it at Trader Joes and at Sprouts.
- From prior experience I will warn you, do NOT used reduced fat cream cheese for the cake, it just won’t turn out the same!
- I used pistachios instead of walnuts in the baklava filling. Yum!
- I was out of cinnamon sticks, so for the syrup I just sprinkled in some ground cinnamon and it turned out great.
- I bought an airplane bottle of Remy Martin VSOP cognac since I didn’t need a whole bottle, and it was $1.99 at Total Wine.
Whew! There you have it. My Paleo, no carb, super healthy cake. Nah, just kidding. It’s good to cheat once in a while. Seriously though, I have never been so nervous putting something in the oven, but it turned out better than expected. I have to admit that I was skeptical about putting so much fresh lemon juice into a cheesecake, but letting it sit overnight really made the flavor very smooth. It also seemed very appropriate with the baklava pairing. The cake really tasted even better after it had sat for two days. I would definitely make it again – now that I’ve done it once I’m less scared of the phyllo dough and I know the process would be much faster the second time around. I love my sour cream cheesecake as a quick and delicious option, and Sam and I agreed that the the baklava cheesecake was just as good, just very different. And most importantly, the birthday boy loved it!
Recipe Credit: thebakingpan.com