This delicious baklava cheesecake recipe is crispy and creamy at the same time, hands down the most delicious cheesecake I have ever made! Taking classic baklava one step further, this is a must-try recipe for baklava and cheesecake lovers. Lighter than traditional baklava, in the meantime more exciting flavor profile than traditional cheesecake, the best of both! Making this baklava cheesecake is super easy too, it comes together really quickly, the perfect cheesecake recipe even if you are a beginner in the kitchen.
What is baklava cheesecake
Baklava is a layered dessert made of filo pastry, filled with chopped nuts (can be walnut, pistachios, or any nut really), and sweetened with syrup or honey. It is a super popular dessert all around the world, particularly in the Middle East, Turkey, and Greece with small local adjustments. Make sure you check out my baklava recipe, it is thick!
This Baklava cheesecake recipe delivers on the key baklava and cheesecake attributes! Creamy and light cream cheese filling on top of walnut-filled filo pastry layers soaked in aromatic honey rosewater syrup. A dangerously delicious recipe for cheesecake and baklava lovers! I hear from many of my Readers that they are making it over and over again. Keep on reading!
Why this is the best recipe
- It is rather easy – As fancy as it looks, honestly, making this baklava cheesecake is easier than making baklava or cheesecake on its own. The layering of the phyllo dough is super easy, the cream cheese filling comes together in a few minutes, then bake and enjoy! This is the perfect recipe for even if you are a beginner in the kitchen
- It is super delicious, made with my secret ingredients – I never compromise on taste! This baklava cheesecake is super luxurious, crunchy, and creamy, nutty with a mild floral aftertaste (due to the syrup). If you love baklava, you simply have to try this recipe. What makes this baklava cheesecake even more delicious is my secret syrup that is unlike other baklava syrups, in fact very well balanced in sweetness. Read my expert tips below on how to make it!
- No special equipment is needed – All you need is a springform pan to assemble the cheesecake and you are good to go! See my Equipment notes below!
What is the difference between filo and puff pastry
As explained on the Masterclass, both filo and puff pastry are super thin pastry crusts. Phyllo dough, also known as filo dough, is a paper-thin pastry dough made by rolling together layers of dough. Although the dough likely originated in Turkey, where it’s known as yuf ka, the Greek name filo (“leaf”) caught on internationally. Puff pastry, also called “pâte feuilletée” in French, is a laminated dough, famous for its paper-thin sheets of puffy, somewhat crunchy, soft-yet-crackly pastry. Puff pastry is made through repeated layering and folding of dough and cold butter.
The main differences between puff pastry and filo pastry are the fat content and preparation. Puff pastry is a laminated dough that gets its signature airy puff from layers of butter, while phyllo dough is comparatively low-fat as Phyllo dough includes only flour, water, vinegar, and a little oil. Puff pastry is typically used for croissants, Danish, tarte tatin, while filo pastry is used to bake baklava or Apple strudel.
Making this baklava cheesecake requires phyllo sheets and I do not recommend substituting it with puff pastry as puff pastry would make a much higher fat content pastry that would work less well with the cheesecake part.
For the baklava part
- Filo pastry: While I am all about baking from scratch, it is not something I recommend doing at home unless you are a professional chef, and have the right equipment. The phyllo sheets are usually available in the supermarkets either frozen or refrigerated, if it is not accessible in your local supermarket, worth trying Middle Eastern theme shops or restaurants
- Walnut: Make sure you use whole walnut (so not the ground version) and roast it first in the oven for a few minutes for the flavor to really come out. Then, I recommend to pulse bland the whole walnut in a food processor or chop it with a knife. The walnut should not get totally ground but should stay in tiny pieces. Instead of walnut you can use pistachio or even hazelnut or mix these nuts
- Butter: Use always unsalted as you want to be in control of the quantity of the salt. I am using European-style 82% fat content butter in all my recipes. The butter needs to be melted in the microwave for a few seconds
- Sugar: No sugar in the actual baklava filling! Just the right amount of sweetness will come from the syrup
For the cream cheese filling
- Cream cheese: I always use a full-fat Philadelphia tub when I state cream cheese in my recipes. I find it easy to cream (need to bring it to room temperature first) and very pleasant in taste. You will need to beat cream cheese for 1-2 minutes, just until it becomes fluffy and increases a bit in volume. Avoid over whipping
- Granulated sugar: I use simple, white granulated sugar, nothing fancy, also not too much only 120g that is ⅔ cup sugar. While beating it up with cream cheese make sure the sugar granulates fully dissolve. If you want to learn about the different types of sugar and how to use them in baking, please read my article in here.
- Egg: Room temperature as always
- Heavy cream: Also known as whipping cream or double cream, has a fat content between 36% and 40%. Use it at room temp so the mixture can properly emulsify and do not substitute with vegetable-based “whipping cream”. Heavy cream will make the filling effectively more creamy, super smooth, and rich
- Flour: I used simple All-purpose flour, you probably won´t have a problem finding that in your local supermarket. If you want to be a Pro when it comes to deciding what type of flour to use in your baking, please read my article in here
For the syrup
First thing first, some typical mistakes. What makes the baklava sometimes unpleasantly sweet and also very soggy is the inappropriate sugar syrup quality and quantity.
Regarding quantity, the recipe below will provide enough syrup to “hold” the filo sheets together but without making the dessert overly soggy and overly sweet. Regarding sweetness, I am using a mixture of sugar, honey, water simple syrup base and offset the sweetness with some lemon juice! It does not taste lemon, but lemon balances the sweetness of the syrup.
- Sugar + Honey: Use simple white granulated sugar. Honey is natural inverted sugar, I used acacia honey. If you want to learn about the different types of sugar and how to use them in baking, please read my article in here
- Lemon juice and zest: Secret ingredient no. 1. As mentioned above, it won´t really add any taste as such but balances the sweetness. You can´t skip this, believe me. Zest needs to be added to the syrup in 2-3 pieces then needs to be removed before drizzling the baklava with the syrup
- Cinnamon: Secret ingredient no 2. I am using a medium-sized cinnamon stick, again won´t give too much flavor as such more like a very slight cinnamon aftertaste
- Rose water: Secret ingredient no 3. Please note that there is a huge difference between pure rose water, pure rose essence, and all the other fake ones. Make sure to only use 100% natural pure rose products for your health and also for maximum taste. In terms of rose water and rose essence, rosewater is sold in a larger bottle usually and you have to use more of that vs. rose essence. I am using 1 tablespoon here. If you have rose essence at home, which is a much more concentrated product, then you only need to use a tiny amount, like one teaspoon or even less. Rosewater is rather a "love it or hate it" flavor, so feel free to skip it, if you don´t like it. However, if you haven´t tried it before, I really recommend starting using it in desserts, it pairs amazingly not just with Middle Eastern desserts but also with e.g. raspberry
5 Expert tips
1. How to bake with filo pastry
The phyllo sheets are extremely versatile, super-thin, which need to be handled with care. Depending on whether you purchase it frozen or not, first, you will need to bring it to room temperature but do not open the package yet as the pastry can get dry out very quickly. Once the pack is open, place the sheets in between very lightly wet tea towels to make sure that the phyllo sheets won´t dry out while you are assembling the baklava cheesecake.
2. How to make the cream cheese filling
This is a classic cheesecake recipe that comes together really quickly, all you need to pay attention to is not to over mix it. You will only need a couple of ingredients like Philadelphia cream cheese, cream, eggs, a little bit of sugar, and a small amount of flour.
Beat cream cheese with sugar for 1-2 minutes until fluffy, mix in flour, add eggs and finally the heavy cream, mix just until combined, do not over mix. If you are spending more than 3 minutes preparing this filling, then you are probably overbeating it.
I am not using vanilla and lemon - which are often used in cheesecake fillings - because the flavor of this baklava cheesecake will very much come from the syrup.
3. How to assemble the Baklava cheesecake
Basically, you will have to assemble the baklava layers first just like if you were making baklava, then pour the cream cheese filling on top. My filo bag has 10 large phyllo sheets and I have used all 10 of them - that gives a high enough baklava layer under the cheesecake layer.
Prepare your baking pan, I recommend a not too large (15-20 cm / 6-8 inch) but deep spring form. The one I am using is 19 cm / 7,5 inch in diameter spring form, this one. I covered the bottom and side of the pan with aluminum foil, because I made one batch with a water bath and one without. You will be pleased to hear that this baklava cheesecake bakes perfectly and does not crank on the top even without water bath, so the aluminum foil is not strictly necessary.
Gently melt butter in the microwave, and prepare the walnut at hand.
While assembling the baklava cheesecake use the following pattern (from bottom to top):
2 sheets filo then butter brush + walnut
2 sheets filo then butter brush + walnut
2 sheets filo then butter brush + walnut
2 sheets filo then butter brush + walnut
2 sheets filo
Pour the cream cheese filling on top
Trim the filo pastry around the cake pan before baking. Please see the process pictures below!
4. How to bake
Always pre-heat your oven for at least 10-15 minutes and make sure you invest in an inexpensive Digital oven thermometer to avoid underbaked or burnt baklava cheesecake. If your oven tends to burn more on the top, it is better to bake this cheesecake more on the bottom so the filo pastry won´t burn.
Can I bake this baklava cheesecake without a water bath? Yes, absolutely! You will be pleased to see that this cheesecake won´t crack on top!
I suggest baking the cheesecake in the following way; First, bake it at 180C / 356F (no fan) for 45 minutes, then remove the side of the spring form and bake for a further 25 minutes so the baked cheesecake tip and side both get golden in color. This baklava cheesecake is rather tall therefore requires a minimum of one hour baking time, however, please note that each oven is different and you will have to experiment with your own one. If the cheesecake was browning too much on top, feel free to cover it with aluminum foil towards the end of the baking time.
5. How to make soaking syrup that is not overly sweet
Making the soaking syrup for this baklava cheesecake is super simple, you will literally have to boil all the ingredients together (except rosewater) however it is worth noting 3 important things:
1. Boil the mixture for 5-10 minutes (depending on your stove) until it gets syrupy. If the mixture is not syrupy enough but more on the liquid side, it can make the cheesecake wet and soggy instead of moist, so make sure it is syrupy. Add in rosewater in after the syrup is ready
2. Prepare the syrup towards the last 5-10 minutes of the baking time so it will be ready by the time your baked cheesecake is done in the oven
3. While drizzling the cheesecake with syrup I suggest focusing on the side around where the filo pastry is. It is fine to drizzle the cheesecake part (middle) a tiny but the main focus should be to moisten the baked phyllo sheets.
The good news is that making this Baklava cheesecake does not really require a lot of equipment!
You will definitely need a springform pan, eg. a 19 cm / 7,5 inch spring form. Spring form type of baking pan has two parts: a round shape base and a sideband with a clamp. The band expands and contracts by opening and closing the clamp. Easy peasy! For the best results, choose a non-stick finish and I recommend a not too large (15-20 cm / 6-8 inch) but deep version to avoid sad-looking flat cakes.
Yes, you can, however, you will need to adjust the ingredient quantities and baking time accordingly. Having said that, the larger the cake the riskier that it won´t bake throughout, so you have to pay extra attention to the correct oven temperature and make your own judgment to take the cheesecake out of the oven
Most probably yes, you can, however, you can´t just leave out / change an ingredient without reformulating the entire recipe. When one ingredient changes, some other ingredients need to be changed too in order to keep the balance in the texture and flavor. Sadly, I am not able to provide substitutes for all sorts of allergies and diets.
Phyllo dough can be purchased either frozen or refrigerated. If you go for a frozen one, you will need to bring it to room temperature first, but do not open the package yet as the pastry can get dry out very quickly.
No, I do not recommend substituting phyllo with puff pastry, please see above the section where I explain what is the difference between these two pastries
Yes, totally! Roasted hazelnut or pistachio would make amazing baklava cheesecake too!
Probably your oven is over heat, considering using a Digital oven thermometer. Also, do not use a fan while making this cheesecake. If, for some reason, it was browning too much on the top, feel free to cover it with aluminum foil towards the end of the baking time
Any leftover cake can be stored in an air-tight container in the fridge for 1-2 days. I suggest you cover the dessert so it does not absorb any smell from the fridge.
I do not recommend freezing this cheesecake, the filo dough might lose its crispiness
More Cheesecake recipes
- Pistachio cheesecake: I´ve made many cheesecakes in my life but this Pistachio cheesecake is special! If you are a cheesecake and pistachio lover and like to make delicious desserts without a lot of fuss, this will be a recipe you will love! Recipe in here
- Oreo cheesecake: Crunchy, decorative Oreo crust filled with extra smooth vanilla cream cheese mousse with hidden Oreo pieces! This No-bake Oreo cheesecake is super light and taste amazing with just the right amount of sweetness! Recipe in here
- Basque burnt cheesecake: This is a super lightly caramelized Cheesecake that literally comes together in 5 minutes using 5 simple ingredients yet has an unbelievably texture and taste, one of best Cheesecakes I have ever had! Recipe in here
- Strawberry cheesecake: It is phenomenal as the silky ultra cream cheese filling meets the fruity strawberry compote in crunchy, sweet crust. Try it! Recipe in here
- Jiggly Japanese cheesecake: After tasting the famous, original Jiggly Japanese cheesecake on Osaka´s food market (look for Ricuro), I knew I want to bring the recipe for you to try. Japanese cheesecake is the ultimate fluffy, souffle like cheesecake you must try. Recipe in here
- Raspberry cheesecake: Silky, ultra creamy lemony cheese filling meets raspberry compote in this crunchy, sweet crust that is enhanced with freezed dried raspberries for the ultimate luxurious taste. Recipe in here
Baklava cheesecake (VIDEO)
For the pastry
- 250 g filo pastry 1 pack of store bough filo (10 sheets)
- 50 g Unsalted butter melted
- 140 g Walnut roast whole walnut, then pulse blend
For the cream cheese filling
- 450 g Cream cheese eg. full fat Philadelphia tub
- 120 g Granulated sugar
- 15 g All purpose flour
- 3 Eggs room temp
- 75 g Heavy Cream high 36% fat content, use it at room temperature
For the syrup
- 118 g Water
- 70 g Granulated sugar
- 50 g Honey
- ½ Lemon juice Juice of ½ lemon
- ½ Lemon zest Zest of the ½ lemon. Do not grate, it should be in 2-3 pieces so that you can take them out from the syrup later
- Cinnamon stick medium size
- 1 tablespoon Rose water only use pure 100% natural rosewater
US customary cup measurement is an indicative figure only. Measure the ingredients with a digital scale by weight (gram). Baking is art but also science which requires precision and accuracy.
- Start with roasting walnut in the oven for 5-10 minutes at 200 C / 392 F. While roasting the nuts, make sure you do not burn it and remove it from the oven after you start to feel a lovely nutty smell
- Keep the oven on so that it will get pre-heated for baking the cheesecake. Adjust temp to 180C / 356F
- Pulse bland walnut in food processor until very tiny pieces but do not ground it fully. Alternatively, use a sharp knife and chop it by hand
- Continue with making the cream cheese filling by creaming room temperature Philadelphia cheese with sugar for a minute or two until it gets fluffy
- Mix in flour, add room temperature eggs, and finally add the room temperature heavy cream, mix just until combined, do not over mix
- Continue with melting butter in the microwave. This will be used to brush the filo pastry
- Then it´s assembling time! Take your spring form and generously grease the bottom and side as well with butter
- From bottom to top the layers are:2 sheets filo pastry then butter brush + walnut2 sheets filo pastry then butter brush + walnut2 sheets filo pastry then butter brush + walnut2 sheets filo pastry then butter brush + walnut2 sheets filo pastry
- Pour the cream cheese filling on top
- After assembling, trim the filo pastry around the baking pan (with a scissor)
- Bake your cheesecake in the following way: 180C / 356F for 45 minutes, then remove the side of the spring form and bake for a further 25 minutes so the side gets also golden in colour. Adjust baking time to your oven - if necessary
- While baking prepare the syrup: Boil all the ingredients together except the rose water until slightly thickens (5-10 minutes depending on your stove) and reaches syrup consistency. Remove it from the heat, remove lemon zest pieces and cinnamon stick and mix in rosewater
- Pour syrup over the cheesecake as soon as cheesecake comes out of the oven. While pouring the syrup focus on the edges (where the filo pastry is) but some syrup can also go on top of the cheese part
- Let it cool and further set in the fridge for minimum 2 hours, then decorate with pistachio and rose petals if you like
- Make sure you use whole walnut (so not the ground version) and roast it first in the oven for a few minutes for the flavor to really come out
- If you are using frozen filo pastry, bring it to room temperature first
- Once the pack is open, place the sheets in between very lightly wet tea towels to make sure that the phyllo sheets won´t dry out
- For the cheesecake part, use room temperature ingredients
- Make sure you read my Expert tips section above to maximize your success. A short recipe alone is not able to cover all the necessary details and science behind baking
- While layering the baklava part, pay attention to the phyllo and brush it with butter, so it won´t dry out
- The baking process is rather long (about 70 minutes, but you will have to experience it in your own oven), what we are looking for is a beautiful golden color phyllo dough and a well-baked, creamy cheesecake. If the cheesecake was browning too much on top, feel free to cover it with aluminum foil towards the end of the baking time.
- I strongly advise using a Digital oven thermometer to be able to measure your exact oven temperature
- While baking, do not use fan in your oven
- The cheesecake will set as it cools, let it chill in the fridge before cutting