This baklava cheesecake recipe offers the best of both worlds: syrupy sweet pistachio baklava AND refreshing tangy cheesecake filling. Dairy-free and completely vegan thanks to a few easy tweaks. I can't wait for you to try this one!
🥄 Baklava Cheesecake
I'm obsessed with hybrid desserts. Remember when we made vegan crème brûlée doughnuts? This cheesecake may just be even better!
The crust is made of what's basically a round, uncut tray of baklava. The filling is a creamy layer of vegan cream cheese mixture. All are topped with pistachios and rosewater-flavored syrup... this dessert is truly mega!
- Vegan Cream Cheese: My favorite dairy-free cream cheese brands to use for cheesecake are Kite Hill, Tofutti, Trader Joe's, and Kroger's Simple Truth. In exactly this order. Violife didn't work well. You could make your own cultured plant-based cream cheese if you prefer!
- Full-Fat Coconut Milk: I normally try to avoid coconut milk in most recipes as the flavor can be overpowering. But we're using just enough of it here to get the creaminess without the final product tasting like a "coconut cheesecake".
- Sugar: I used organic sugar to make the recipe 100% vegan. In the U.S., sugar will be vegan if it's organic, labeled “unrefined”, or made from beets.
- Cornstarch (cornflour): We'll use cornstarch to thicken the cream cheese filling. You may also use arrowroot powder, but double the amount since arrowroot isn't as strong of a binding agent.
- Lemon Juice: A bit of tartness from the lemon perfectly cuts through the sweetness.
- Phyllo Pastry Sheets: Instead of a traditional graham crust, we'll make a baklava crust using phyllo dough sheets! You could make your own at home, but it is a long process that takes some practice.
- Vegan Butter: I used Earth Balance butter sticks.
- Pistachio Meat: Classic baklava filling choices are pistachio or walnut, but you certainly can go with a different nut or a medley!
- (Optional) Rose Water: You can choose to use rose or orange blossom water in your syrup to make this dessert even more "extra". Even a few drops make a difference.
This recipe is for a 7-inch pan. If you have a 9-inch pan instead, double the filling and syrup ingredients.
Make the Cheesecake Filling
Preheat the oven to 350F. Make the filling by placing the vegan cream cheese and sugar into a large bowl and mix with an electric or stand mixer for 1-2 minutes, until fluffy. Add in the cornstarch, coconut milk, and lemon juice then mix until just combined. Set aside.
Bake the Cheesecake
Make the base by brushing the pan generously with vegan butter and place one layer of phyllo pastry, making sure the pastry sticks to the bottom edges. Brush with melted vegan butter, and repeat until half the phyllo sheets are gone.
At this halfway point, place the minced pistachio in one layer and gently press to pack it down. Place the rest of the phyllo sheets with butter in between, then pour over the cream cheese filling. Trim the sides with scissors and save the leftover bits for future tarts, baklavas, or boreks.
Bake the cake for 45 minutes, or until golden brown. Cover with aluminum foil if the phyllo is browning too quickly.
Using a water bath doesn't make a difference for this recipe as the top is covered with pistachios at the end, but you can use one if you wish.
Make the Syrup
Meanwhile, mix water, sugar, and lemon juice in a saucepan over medium heat and bring the syrup to 225-230F (should drip down in a loose thin thread from the spoon, about 15 minutes). Remove from the heat and set aside to cool. If you wish, mix in rosewater.
When the cheesecake is done baking, let it cool for at least one hour. When both the cheesecake and the syrup are somewhat cooled (they can still be warm to the touch)—pour the syrup down the edges of the springform, covering the entire perimeter of the cheesecake.
Set aside to bring down to room temperature, then cover in cling wrap & refrigerate for at least 8 hours, ideally overnight.
When the cheesecake is cooled and set, remove the springform and place roughly chopped pistachios to decorate.
🥛 Dairy-Free Cheesecake Tips
- The brand of vegan cream cheese you use makes a huge difference for this recipe! I like to stock up on Kite Hill and Tofutti when they go on sale as I've had the most luck with these brands, but Trader Joe's and Simple Truth work as well.
- I'm not a huge fan of them—but if you like raw cheesecake fillings such as those made by blending cashews, go for it!
- I made this recipe once in a water bath and once without—the water bath didn't change the texture at all. Neither top cracked. This is likely because vegan cream cheese behaves differently than dairy cream cheese.
Baklava is a very sweet Turkish dessert filled with nuts and has crisp layers of phyllo dough sheets. For those who may not enjoy a dessert as sweet, baklava cheesecake is perfect with a tart and creamy layer of cream cheese filling to cut through the sugar.
Kite Hill and Tofutti work the best for vegan cheesecakes, as they are higher in protein and taste more similar to regular cream cheese than their oil-based counterparts.
Baklava is generally not vegan as it contains clarified butter.
Vegans can have cheesecake made with non-dairy cheese alternatives.
If the edges of the cheesecake are stuck to the pan, then the cheesecake will crack as it cools and naturally pulls away from the edges.
Water baths are helpful for a crack-free cheesecake top, but I've never had this issue baking vegan cheesecakes without them.
Vegan cheesecake is often made of a vegan cream cheese alternative that is coconut or palm oil-based, or nut-based. Raw vegan cheesecakes usually are made with blended cashew or macadamia nut fillings.
🌱 More Vegan Desserts
Try these other delicious vegan desserts to satisfy your sweet tooth!
Did you make this vegan baklava cheesecake recipe? I'd love to hear about it! Please comment and leave a star🌟 rating below. This helps me run Aegean Delight and I always appreciate it 🙂Print