This Baklava Cheesecake recipe has it all - creamy, crunchy, sweet, salty... all bound together with honey, cardamom, & orange blossom water!
I love developing recipes from a concept - deciding what we want it to be, and working from there.
Though I was sure there were plenty of recipes out there, I didn’t want to know what they were about. This was an opportunity for a creative baking project!
So I ran over the possibilities in with my husband.
Did we want to invoke baklava flavours - via a nut based crust - or actually use phyllo?
Would the phyllo be just a basic layered crust, or did we want to build a layer of the traditional Greek dessert right into the cheesecake?
Classic baklava on the bottom of the cheesecake, or built on top?
Which nuts? Which seasoning? Would we use honey syrup, how, and what would it be flavoured with?
In the end, we came up with a recipe for the most delicious cheesecake I’ve ever had!
We started with a (mostly!) traditional baklava crust on the bottom, a modified version of my Maple Walnut Baklava recipe.
The phyllo layers extended up the sides, making for a gorgeously flaky crust.
As for the cheesecake part, I decided to go with a honey cheesecake filling (A modified version of my Creamy Vanilla Cheesecake), baked right on top of the baklava base.
I had to make bit of modification to techniques - both as far as baklava AND cheesecake go - to accommodate the weird logistics that our design presented.
Baklava is generally layered, baked, then doused with syrup.
With ours, it was layered, covered in cheesecake batter, and baked - no way to get the syrup over the pastry.
... So I added some of the syrup to the nuts - and later brushed onto the side crust.
As for the creamy cheesecake layer, I decided to forgo the usual water bath traditional for cheesecake recipes, as I didn’t want to risk it ruining the phyllo crust.
When it came to flavour, we decided to go all-out and use pistachios, cardamom, and orange blossom water. UNF. So good!
As my husband put it:
This tastes like something we’d get in a restaurant we can’t afford to eat at!
While it sounds involved, it’s actually a deceptively easy baklava cheesecake recipe!
Also, this combination of two classic desserts is super customizable, AND the perfect “wow” dish for almost any special occasion!
As-is, these are the ingredients we used - I’ll get to the variations in a moment.
Also know as “filo pastry” - this is a paper thin pastry that you can generally find in the freezer section of your grocery store.
You will only be using 12 sheets of phyllo dough, or about ½ package. For best results, thaw it as directed on the package.
This recipe uses both cream cheese and sour cream in the batter, but does NOT use heavy cream.
You can use Greek yogurt instead of the sour cream, if you like.
I have not tested any of the dairy free cream cheese options with this cheesecake recipe - if you do, let me know how it goes!
This recipe uses both granulated sugar and honey.
You’ll want to use liquid honey for this, ideally a nice quality one - rather than just being used to boost sweetness, the honey actually contributes a lot of flavor to this sweet dessert.
Orange Blossom Water
Orange Blossom Water is a fun ingredient, commonly used in Mediterranean baking.
While I guess it’s technically a specialty ingredient, it usually doesn’t cost much at all - I think we paid $2 for our bottle.
Look for it in the international section of larger grocery stores, or at Middle Eastern grocers.
You can also buy it online, it’s just a bit more expensive than buying it in a store.
Rounding out the recipe, you’ll need:
... I just don’t have any notes for you on any of those!
The only specialized equipment you’ll need for this recipe is a 6" Springform Pan.
Be sure to use one that’s 3" tall, or you’ll have WAY too much cheesecake batter for this.
A 6" cheesecake may seem small, but this makes a SOLID 6 servings. As it’s extremely rich - and calorie-dense! - you could even get 7-8 servings out of it.
When designing this recipe, we designed it around a more Turkish / Middle Eastern Baklava (or Baklawa), using pistachios, cardamom, and that orange blossom water.
The combination is fantastic - rich, heady... it tastes like perfume, but not in a bad way (if that makes sense!).
That said, there are other ways you can do this recipe, achieving completely different - though also fantastic - flavour profiles.
Change the Nuts
Pistachios can be ridiculously expensive, so feel free to swap them out.
You can swap out half the pistachios for almonds and do a mix, or swap them out entirely for either almonds, walnuts, or a combination of the two.
Change the Spice
You can swap out the cardamom for the same amount of cinnamon, This brings it to more of a Greek style baklava base.
You can even add a pinch of ground cloves to the cinnamon, if you like.
Swap Out the Orange Blossom Water
If you keep the recipe all the same (or swap out half the nuts for almonds), but swap out the orange blossom water for Rose Water, you’ll have another very aromatic Middle Eastern / Turkish style baklava base.
Just be sure you’re using culinary rose water - you’ll find it in the same spot as orange blossom water, NOT in the makeup aisle!
Note: Dried rose petals make a pretty garnish when you go this way!
Can’t get either, or want to go with more of a Greek baklava style?
You can just skip it in the honey syrup, and use 1-2 teaspoon Vanilla extract in place of it in the cheesecake batter.
Swap the Honey Out
You can do this recipe up as a maple walnut baklava cheesecake!
Just swap the the pistachios out for walnuts, the honey for maple syrup, and the cardamom for cinnamon.
How to Make Baklava Cheesecake
This recipe may look like a lot, but it’s only about 40 minutes of active / semi active work time - and SO worth the effort!
The full recipe is in the recipe card at the end of this post, but here is a pictorial walk through:
First thing you need to do is make the syrup. Usually this is the last part to do, but this recipe involves some weird logistics 🙂
In a small/medium saucepan, combine water, sugar, and honey. Bring to a boil, then simmer on medium-low for 20 minutes.
You’re aiming for a syrup with the consistency of maple syrup, maybe slightly thinner than that.
(I went a bit too thick when photographing this round, had to thin it out with a little water later!)
Remove from heat, stir in the orange blossom water and cardamom.
Let cool to room temperature.
Prepare the Pan
Remove the collar / sides of the springform pan from the base.
Set a piece of parchment paper over the bottom of the pan, then re-attach the collar, trapping the parchment between the two pan pieces.
Generously grease the inside of the springform tin with softened butter or pan spray, set aside.
Toast nuts in a dry, nonstick pan, just until fragrant.
Remove from heat, allow to cool slightly, then finely chop - by hand or with a food processor. Transfer to a small bowl.
Note: If you’re using a food processor, aim for a medium fine grind - you don’t want to end up with nut flour!
Add 1-2 tablespoon of the syrup to the chopped pistachios - just enough to moisten it a bit and make them sticky.
Season this crust mixture with the cardamom and pinch of salt, stir well to combine.
In a large bowl, cream the cream cheese, honey, and sugar together until smooth. If you’re using an electric mixer, you can do this on high speed.
Add sour cream, eggs, orange blossom water and lemon juice, beat by hand - or on low speed - just until smooth.
Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl as you go!
DO NOT over beat - this will introduce a lot of air, and increase the risk of the cheesecake cracking.
Cover cheesecake batter with plastic wrap, chill until you’re ready to use it.
Working with Phyllo Dough
Phyllo can be finicky to work with, and there’s a good chance that sheets will tear either as you unroll it, or as you handle it.
There are so many layers involved with this, it REALLY isn’t a big deal. Overlap as needed, or just put the pieces in as you can. It’s all good!
Also: I find it easiest to butter a flat piece of phyllo, then place it into the cake pan upside down.
You’ll get better coverage than if you place the phyllo dough sheet into the pan and then try to butter it.
Finally: Phyllo dries out quickly, and dry dough cracks/shatters easily. It’s a good idea to keep a damp towel on hand, if you’re not used to working with it.
Cover the stack of sheets while you work with a few sheets at a time, if needed.
Personally, I just butter right on the stack I’m using, and work fast. You do NOT need to be perfect about what you’re doing, here.
Speed is more important than accuracy, in this case!
Don’t get too caught up in how many sheets are going where. Put a couple down, try to get some butter in there every few sheets, and try to evenly space them around the pan.
If you miss a step or get a layer of nuts in where it was supposed to be another phyllo sheet... it’s not the end of the world.
Preheat oven to 325 F, carefully unroll phyllo pastry sheets.
Count out the 12 sheets, and use a knife to slice the whole stack in half to make two stacks of 9 x 13″ sheets.
Note: (this can vary based on the size pf sheets you start with)
Lay two sheets of phyllo in bottom of the prepared pan, centering it with the excess up the sides and over the edge of the pan.
Press the pastry into the bottom edges of the pan.
Layer it and one other piece on top of the 2nd sheet in the pan, slightly offset from the first two.
Sprinkle 2 tablespoon of the nuts evenly across the top. Layer with two more sheets (offsetting them from previous layer), butter, and another 2 tablespoon of the nuts
Continue this pattern of two sheets, butter, nuts until you are almost at the end of the pastry (About 4 sheets left), and are - ideally - out of nuts.
Layer two sheets, spread entire surface with butter, and top with a final two sheets.
Brush edging with butter.
Pour cheesecake batter into the prepared crust, and place the cheesecake on a rimmed baking tray.
Carefully transfer the whole thing to the 325 F oven.
Bake for 65-70 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the cheesecake center is mostly set - it’ll wiggle a little if shaken, but shouldn’t be liquid.
Note: I slightly under baked (by about 7-8 minutes) this cheesecake, as I knew I'd be photographing it and was worried about cracks! Still tasty - and safe - though!
Once the cake is fully cooked, remove the baked cheesecake from the oven.
Pour the cooled syrup over the hot baklava cheesecake, mostly around the outer edge - you want the crust to soak it up.
Once about half of the syrup has been poured and soaked up, gently loosen the collar of the springform pan and remove it.
Brush remaining syrup on the sides of the crust, focusing on lower areas that didn’t get any of the poured syrup.
Cut, garnish, and serve as desired. Chopped nuts are great, a drizzle of honey (or honey syrup, if you make an extra batch of it!) is always nice.
Note: for really “clean” slices, chill the cheesecake thoroughly before cutting. Use a very sharp knife - run it under hot water, then wipe it dry before cutting.
Leftovers can be covered with plastic wrap or aluminum foil - or transferred to an airtight container - and stored in the fridge for 5 days or so.
More Fancy Recipes
Planning for a special dinner, whether Valentine’s Day, a special date, or a fancy dinner party? Here are a few recipes to consider!
Balsamic Mushroom Baked Brie
Chocolate Dessert Ravioli
Clementine Mousse with ChampagneFancy Tea Sandwiches
How to Make Cream Puffs and Croquembouche
Mushroom Brie Turnovers
Mushroom & Goat Cheese Braid with Balsamic Glaze
Pepper Crusted Tuna with Wasabi Cream Sauce
Phyllo Crab Triangles
Savoury Tomato Shortcake
Shrimp & Artichoke Stuffed Mushrooms
Traditional Raspberry Mousse
White Chocolate Almond Amaretto Truffles
Wild Rice Stuffed Chicken Breast with Dijon Chive Cream Sauce
Share the Love!
Also, be sure to subscribe to my free monthly email newsletter, so you never miss out on any of my nonsense. Well, the published nonsense, anyway!
Finally, if you love this recipe, please consider leaving a star rating and/or a comment below, and maybe even sharing this post on social media!
- ⅓ cup Water
- ½ cup Granulated Sugar
- ⅓ cup Honey
- 1 tablespoon Orange blossom water
- ¼ teaspoon Ground cardamom
- 12 Phyllo sheets
- ¼ cup Unsalted butter melted
- 1 ¼ cups Shelled pistachios
- ½ teaspoon Ground cardamom
- Pinch Salt
- 1 lb Cream Cheese room temperature
- ⅓ cup Honey
- ¼ cup Granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoon Sour cream
- 2 Large eggs room temperature & lightly beaten
- 2 teaspoon Orange blossom water
- ½ teaspoon Lemon juice
- In a small/medium saucepan, combine water, sugar, and honey. Bring to a boil, then simmer on medium-low for 20 minutes.
- Remove from heat, stir in the orange blossom water and cardamom.
- Let cool to room temperature.
- Remove the collar / sides of a 6" Springform pan from the base. Set a piece of parchment paper over the bottom of the pan, then re-attach the collar, trapping the parchment between the two pan pieces.
- Generously grease the inside of the pan with softened butter or pan spray, set aside.
- Toast nuts in a dry, nonstick pan, just until fragrant. Remove from heat, allow to cool slightly, then finely chop - by hand or with a food processor.
- Add 1-2 tablespoon of the syrup to the nuts - just enough to moisten it a bit and make them sticky. Season with the cardamom and pinch of salt, stir well to combine.
- Preheat oven to 325 F, carefully unroll phyllo dough.
- Count out the 12 sheets, and use a knife to slice the whole stack in half to make two stacks of 9 x 13″ sheets. Cover with a damp cloth to prevent phyllo from drying out as you work – it’s finicky, fragile stuff!
- Lay two sheets of phyllo in bottom of prepared pan, centering it with the excess up the sides.Use a pastry brush to apply a thorough coating of melted butter across the bottom and up the sides of the pastry. Layer with two more sheets, slightly offset from the first two. Repeat twice more, for a total of 8 sheets.
- Sprinkle 2 tablespoon of the nuts evenly across the top. Layer with two more sheets (offsetting them from previous layer), butter, and another 2 tablespoon of the nuts
- Continue this pattern of two sheets, butter, nuts until you have 4 sheets left, and are - ideally - out of nuts. Layer two sheets, spread entire surface with butter, and top with a final two sheets.
- Trim the excess phyllo if desired, then ruffle / flute it if you like. Brush edging with butter, set it in the fridge while you make your filling:
Filling and Baking:
- Cream the cream cheese, honey, and sugar together until smooth.
- Add sour cream, eggs, orange blossom water, and lemon juice, beat just until smooth. DO NOT over beat!
- Pour cheesecake batter into the prepared crust, and place the cheesecake on a rimmed baking sheet.
- Carefully transfer the whole thing to the 325 F oven.
- Bake for 65 minutes, or until the center is mostly set - it’ll wiggle a little if shaken, but shouldn’t be liquid.
- Once the cake is fully cooked, remove from the oven.
- Pour the cooled syrup over the cheesecake, mostly around the outer edge - you want the crust to soak it up.
- Once most of the syrup has been poured and soaked up, gently loosen the collar of the springform pan and remove it. Brush remaining syrup on the sides of the crust, focusing on lower areas that didn’t get any of the poured syrip.
- Allow cheesecake to cool to room temperature, then transfer to fridge, chill for at least 6 hours - ideally overnight.