Baklava Cheesecake

Baklava Cheesecake

1 pound phyllo pastry sheets
1/2 cup melted butter

32 ounces cream cheese
1 cup honey
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 eggs

1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup blanched almonds
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 (1 1/2-inch) cinnamon stick
1 tablespoon cognac

Filling: Position rack in lower third of oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.

Beat cream cheese in large bowl of mixer until light and fluffy. Gradually mix in honey, lemon juice and vanilla extract. Beat in eggs one at a time until just incorporated. Set aside.

Crust: Brush 10-inch springform with butter. Arrange 1 phyllo pastry sheet with long edge partially to edge of surface (cover remaining sheets with damp towel.) Brush left half of sheet with butter and fold right half over. Brush top with butter. Place in prepared pan, buttered side up, leaving 5 inches over-hanging at one end. Cover with another dampened towel. Butter and fold second phyllo sheet and arrange in pan, overlapping first sheet by 3 inches. Repeat with 4 more sheets, covering entire pan. Wrap remaining pastry airtight and refrigerate. Stir through filling and pour into crust. Cover filling with overhanging phyllo, squaring at edge of pan. Bake until pastry is light brown and cake is firm to touch, about 50 minutes.

Remove pan sides. Using a wooden pick, poke 12 holes in top of cake to allow steam to escape. Cool completely on rack. Refrigerate 2 days to mellow flavors, covering after first day.

Topping: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cover baking sheet with 2 pieces of parchment. Coarse grind all nuts with 1 tablespoon sugar and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon in processor. Stack 10 reserved pastry sheets on work surface. Set rim of springform atop pastry. Cut around inside of rim through entire stack using a sharp knife, making 10 rounds. Cover rounds with damp cloth. Set pan rim on prepared baking sheet. Brush parchment and inside of pan rim, with butter. Place 1 pastry round in pan rim brush with butter. Repeat with 4 more rounds. Spread nut mixture evenly over pastry. Top with remaining 5 pastry rounds, brushing each with butter. Using ruler as guide, cut pastry into 16 wedges with sharp knife. Sprinkle lightly with water. Bake until crisp and golden, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile heat 1/2 cup sugar, water and lemon juice in heavy small sauce pan over low heat, swirling pan occasionally until sugar dissolves. Add cinnamon stick, increase heat to medium and boil until syrupy, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat. When bubbles subside stir in Cognac. Flatten pastry atop cake. Remove pan rim from topping. Set topping on cake, using a large spatula. Re-cut wedges. Replace pan rim on assembled cake. Immediately pour on hot syrup. Cool 1 hour. Refrigerate for 1 to 6 hours. Let cakes stand for 20 minutes before serving.

Makes 16 servings

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