Halvah Filo Cheesecake
Courtesy of A Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking by Marcy Goldman
Makes 14 to 16 servings
2 filo pastry leaves
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
4 eggs plus 1 egg yolk
1 and 1/2 pounds cream cheese, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon sesame seed oil
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons plain yogurt
1/4 cup flour
3/4 cup coarsely chopped vanilla halvah
1/3 cup coarsely chopped
pistachio nuts (optional)
2–3 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup lightly toasted sesame seeds
1/2 cup ground or finely chopped pistachio nuts
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Use a 9- or 10-inch springform pan
Spread one sheet of filo lightly with melted butter. Line the pan with the filo, allowing the excess to overhang. Repeat this process with another four leaves of filo, pressing each one into the pan, starting at the center and allowing the excess to drape over the sides. (If your brand of filo is smaller, overlap the leaves to achieve the same overhang.) Reserve the remaining leaves for garnishing the top after baking.
In a bowl, cream the cheese with the eggs, yolk, vanilla, sesame oil, yogurt, honey, sugar and flour until smooth. Stir in the nuts and halvah. Pour into the prepared shell. Trim the filo overhang to rest just on the rim of the pan. Bake until the cake is set (about 45 minutes). Meanwhile, cut the remaining filo leaves in quarters and brush them with butter. Remove the cake from the oven and increase the temperature to 400°F.
Arrange the buttered filo leaves on top of the cake in an irregular patchwork. The cake surface should be covered. Return the pan to the oven to brown the top filo (8 to 10 minutes). Remove and chill the cake until set (or overnight). To serve, warm the honey and drizzle it over the cake, then top with toasted sesame seeds and additional ground or chopped pistachios.