What happens when you combine an American classic with an Arab Middle Eastern iconic dessert? You get Baklawa Cheesecake Bars! The center is tangy and creamy from the NY style cheesecake and the top and bottom have that irresistible crunch from the nuts and phyllo sheets. I don’t think cheesecake could have gotten any better until it met baklawa. After it comes out of the oven, it gets drizzled with a honey infused simple syrup to create a dessert that might just be worth dying for.
The hardest part about this dessert is waiting for it to cool down for quite a few hours after it’s out of the oven but I promise the rest of the recipe is not too bad. It’s just a bit tedious, but not difficult technique wise. So let’s get into it!
The NY Cheesecake Layer
The secret to a perfect cheesecake is making sure all your ingredients are at room temperature, especially cream cheese! If the ingredients are cold, the cheesecake will be lumpy instead of smooth and creamy. Just take out the cream cheese, sour cream, heavy cream, and eggs about an hour before.
Here’s everything you will need:
- cream cheese, room temperature
- granulated sugar
- sour cream, room temperature
- heavy cream, room temperature
- large eggs, room temperature
- vanilla extract
First cream together the cream cheese and sugar using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment or a hand mixer. Now here’s another key step to making a delicious cheesecake. SCRAPE down the sides of the bowl. The cream cheese gets stuck easily to the side of the mixing bowl which will make the batter lumpy. Scrape as you go to avoid this as well as to avoid over beating it. Cheesecake and air bubbles do not mix well.
Then add the cornstarch, sour cream, large eggs, vanilla extract, and pinch of salt. Beat until the batter is completely smooth. Now try not to lick the bowl!
The Honey Simple Syrup
By far the most simple part of the recipe, no pun intended!
Here’s what you will need for the syrup:
- granulated white sugar
- orange blossom water
- lemon juice
To a small pot over medium heat, add all the ingredients and mix together until it comes to a boil. Once all the sugar is dissolved, drop the heat and allow to simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes and take off the heat. The syrup is ready to go!
The Baklawa Layers
There are two components to the Baklawa part of these dessert bars! The first is the phyllo sheets and the second is the nuts.
The Phyllo Sheets:
This recipe will require a 1 pound box of phyllo sheets. Now working with phyllo sheets can be tricky as they’re super thin and dry out quickly but if you follow these few tips, it’ll be a breeze.
- Never leave the phyllo sheets uncovered while working. They will dry out fast, causing it to tear or even crumble when touched. I like to dampen a paper napkin or clean towel and use it as a cover for the phyllo sheets. Every time I need a sheet, I uncover it, take one out, and cover it again.
- Butter is your best friend! Unlike baklawa, this dessert is a lot less tedious and you don’t need to butter every sheet. Once the phyllo sheets are filled, rolled, and placed in the tray, pour butter on top and make sure it spreads all around into every corner and crevice. This will also prevent them from cracking and coming out dry after the oven. It also adds a beautiful rich taste.
- Make sure the packaged phyllo dough is at room temperature before using. You can transfer from the freezer to the fridge the day before or take it out of the freezer and let it sit on the counter for about two to three hours until room temp.
- Your hands need to be dry when working with the phyllo. If there’s water on your hands for any reason, it’ll make the sheets soggy.
All you need to do is cut the phyllo sheets to the size of your pan, in this case a 9 x 9 square.
The Nut Mixture:
We will be using a combination of walnuts and pistachios. Of course you can feel free to use only walnuts or only pistachios but I love the combo of the two.
Add the pistachios and walnuts to a food processor and pulse until they are broken into small pieces. You don’t want the pieces to be too big that they tear the phyllo and not too small where it’s a powder, just like this.
Transfer the nuts to a bowl and add cinnamon as well as some of the honey simple syrup. Mix all that together and it’s ready to go!
Assembly & Baking
Once all the different components are prepared, it’s time to layer and assemble. Butter is your best friend whenever working with phyllo so brush the bottom of the pan with butter and add a layer of phyllo. You’re going to repeat this so there are 10 to 12 phyllo sheets:
- phyllo sheet
- brush with butter
- phyllo sheet
- brush with butter
Then add some nut filling just to cover the phyllo. Pour the cheesecake filling on top and then add another layer of nuts. Add a phyllo layer on top and brush with butter. Repeat AGAIN with 10 to 12 more phyllo layers and butter.
Transfer to the oven to cook for about 50 minutes or until the top is golden. Take out of the oven and pour the simple syrup over the top and around the edges. A little goes a long way in this recipe, it doesn’t need that much. Now it’s time for a test of patience. Let it cool on the counter to room temperature. Then transfer it to the fridge to chill overnight or at least 6 hours before slicing and enjoying!
If you tried this recipe and loved it, drop by down below and let me know how you liked it with a rating and comment! Feel free to also leave a question there about this recipe and I’ll get right back to it.
Other Cheesecake Recipes
Baklawa Cheesecake Bars
What happens when you combine an American classic with an Arab Middle Eastern iconic dessert? You get Baklawa Cheesecake Bars! The center is tangy and creamy from the NY style cheesecake and the top and bottom have that irresistible crunch from the nuts and phyllo. I don't think cheesecake could have gotten any better until it met Baklawa. After it comes out of the oven, it gets drizzled with a honey infused simple syrup to create a dessert that might just be worth dying for.
- 16 ounces cream cheese room temperature
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1/4 cup sour cream room temperature
- 1 tablespoon heavy cream
- 2 large eggs room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 8 ounces pistachios
- 8 ounces walnuts
- dash of salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 cup simple syrup
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter melted
- 1 16 ounce package phyllo sheets
- 3/4 cup water
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1 teaspoon orange blossom water
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
MAKE THE SIMPLY SYRUP
- While the ashta cools down, make the simple syrup. In a pot over medium heat add the water, sugar, honey, orange blossom water, and lemon juice. Bring to a boil so all the sugar is dissolved and then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool to room temperature so it thickens up a bit more.
PREPARE THE NUT FILLING
- To a food processor, add the pistachios and walnuts and pulse until crumbled. You don't want to pulse it too much to where it becomes sand-like, you still want some crunch and texture.
- Transfer the nuts to a bowl and add a pinch of salt, cinnamon, and 1/4 cup of the simple syrup we made. Mix together and set aside.
MAKE THE CHEESECAKE FILLING
- Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment or handheld beater, add cream cheese and sugar to the bowl and beat on medium speed until it is creamy and smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Then add the eggs, cornstarch, sour cream, vanilla extract, and salt and mix until creamy and smooth again. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary to make sure everything is incorporated and there are no clumps.
ASSEMBLE AND BAKE
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Cut the phyllo sheets into a 9x9 square to fit the shape of the pan.
- To a 9x9 pan, brush the bottom with butter. Add a layer of phyllo and brush with butter. Repeat this for a total of 10 to 12 layers. Then add some nut filling just to cover the phyllo. Pour the cheesecake filling on top and then add another layer of nuts. Add a phyllo layer on top and brush with butter. Repeat with 10 to 12 more phyllo layers and butter.
- Transfer to the oven to cook for about 50 minutes or until the top is golden.
- Take out of the oven and pour the simple syrup over the top and around the edges. A little goes a long way in this recipe, it doesn't need that much.
- Let it cool on the counter to room temperature. Then transfer it to the fridge to chill overnight or at least 6 hours before slicing and enjoying!