RECIPE: Honey Thyme Baklava Cheesecake Bars

More than half of the food the average Trinbagonian eats is imported. This should come as no surprise since our twin isle’s annual food import bill is approximately $6 billion. By purchasing local, you funnel money back into our community and support its growth and sustainability for future generations. Our weekly column “In Season” features a sweet and savoury recipe for one readily-available ingredient, so you can take advantage of the vibrant bounty from farmers’ markets, local farm stands, and your own yard.
 
The beauty of thyme is evident in its popularity across many different cultures. It is used in za’atar, a popular Middle-Eastern condiment, bouquet garni and herbes de Provence, two widely used French seasonings and of course, our very own, green seasoning. Not a lot of explanation is needed on how fragrant the lemony and sometimes minty herb can be. However, its use in sweet dishes is not something most are familiar with. Its floral power shines when used in desserts and opens one up to a completely new dimension of thyme's flavour profile. Try to pair thyme with subtly sweet, floral and citrus ingredients like lemons, berries, vanilla and honey. You will begin to see thyme in a completely new light.

 

Honey Thyme Baklava Cheesecake Bars
 
Crisp baklava and creamy cheesecake collide to make a mouthwatering dessert bar. Honey syrup, perfumed with floral thyme is poured over the bars, ensuring that every nook and cranny is drenched in liquid gold. Crunchy walnuts, warm cinnamon, tart cheesecake and the gorgeous honey-thyme syrup create the most beautiful bite.
 
Yields: 10 to 12 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Bake Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

 

INGREDIENTS
 
1 box phyllo dough, thawed
1 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon cinnamon
4 cups walnuts
 
For the honey-thyme syrup :
1 cup sugar
½ cup honey
¾ cup water
4 stems thyme
 
For the cheesecake layer:
1 pound cream cheese or, 2 8-ounce boxes
⅓ cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 egg
¼ cup sour cream or plain yoghurt
½ teaspoon salt
 
DIRECTIONS
 
1 In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, water and honey. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for about 4 minutes. Add thyme; stir and remove from heat.
 
2 In a food processor, chop nuts until fine and add cinnamon; set aside.
 
3 Using a hand mixer, blend the cream cheese, sugar, egg, sour cream or yoghurt, salt and vanilla until smooth.
 
4 Preheat oven to 350°F.
 
5 Grease a 13x9-inch pan with melted butter and begin layering the phyllo dough into the pan, brushing with melted butter between every layer. You may have to fold or cut your sheets to fit. Lay 10 sheets and then add your cheesecake layer on top. Evenly smooth with a spatula and top with cinnamon-nut mixture.
 
6 Continue layering with phyllo sheets and butter. Butter the final layer as well.
 
7 Bake for 1 hour or, until golden-brown.
 
8 Remove from the oven and pour half of the syrup over the top. Let cool and refrigerate overnight.
 
9 Cut and then pour the remaining syrup over the bars. Enjoy slightly chilled.
 
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