Desserts Global Recipes

Honey Cheesecakes-Greece

Last week we went out to a local Middle Eastern restaurant for dinner and I ordered baklava for dessert. For anyone not familiar with this delectable Middle Eastern/Mediterranean sugary goodness-it’s basically a pastry made of layers of phyllo dough filled with chopped nuts and sweetened with honey….lots and lots of honey.  I’m so addicted to the stuff that I got it into my head that I should try to make some of my own baklava over the weekend. I seriously considered doing so but then I remembered what a major PIA phyllo dough is (the dough is paper thin and I’m not embellishing when I say it tears at the “drop of a hat”).

I was still in the mood for a “honey” dessert and luckily came across Honey Cheesecakes. The recipe was surprisingly not too difficult and I was pretty pleased with how they came out. (I often stay away from recipes that require me to make my own pastry dough for no other reason than lack of patience on my part.)

The cheesecakes are nothing like those found at the Cheesecake Factory, a popular chain establishment in the United States that serves ridiculously large portions in addition to an astounding number of cheesecake flavors. The honey cheesecakes had just the right amount of sweetness to them, nothing like those desserts where after the first bite you can feel your teeth start to ache from all the sugar that was used.

Note: If you aren’t in possession of individual tart pans, you could easily make one large tart instead. But you will still want to stick with an actual tart pan and not a springform pan as it is not that kind of a cheesecake recipe.

If you are like me and don’t have orange-flower water on hand, I took the “cheap route” and simply soaked the raisins in freshly squeezed orange juice. I realize it is not at all the same thing, but improvise when needed and I certainly thought everything still tasted pretty good. However, if you’re a purist, here’s a recipe on how to make your own orange-flower water.

Honey Cheesecakes

recipe courtesy of Lesley Mackley’s The Book of Greek Cooking
1 tablespoon raisins
1 tablespoon orange-flower water
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
 3 tablespoons honey
2 small eggs, beaten
Fresh mint leaves, to decorate
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup superfine sugar
1/3 cup water
1 ounce orange peel, cut into julienne strips
Put raisins and orange-flower water in a small bowl to soak. To make the pastry, sift flour into a bowl. Cut in butter until mixture resembles bread crumbs. Stir in powdered sugar. Mix in egg yolk and a little water to make a firm dough. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. 
To make the candied orange peel, put sugar and the water into a saucepan. Heat gently until sugar is dissolved. Bring to a boil and boil 2 minutes. Blanch orange peel 2 to 3 minutes in boiling water. Drain, add to syrup and cook 20 minutes or until peel is transparent. 
Preheat oven to 350. On a floured surface, thinly roll dough out. Use to line 4 deep loose-bottom 4-inch tart pans. In a bowl, beat together raisins, cream cheese, honey and eggs. Pour into pastry shells. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until set and golden. Decorate with orange peel and mint leaves. 

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