The first “cheese cake” was created on the Greek island of Samos. Physical anthropologists excavated cheese molds there which were dated circa 2,000 B.C. Cheese and cheese products had most likely been around for thousands of years before this, but earlier than this goes into prehistory (that period in human history before the invention of writing) so we will never really know. In Greece, cheesecake was considered to be a good source of energy, and there is evidence that it was served to athletes during the first Olympic games in 776 B.C. Greek brides and grooms were also known to use cheesecake as a wedding cake. The simple ingredients of flour, wheat, honey and cheese were formed into a cake and baked – a far cry from the more complicated recipes available today!
The writer Athenaeus is credited for writing the first Greek cheesecake recipe in 230 A.D. (By this time, the Greeks had been serving cheesecake for over 2,000 years but this is the oldest known surviving Greek recipe!) It was also pretty basic – pound the cheese until it is smooth and pasty – mix the pounded cheese in a brass pan with honey and spring wheat flour – heat the cheese cake “in one mass” – allow to cool then serve.
When the Romans conquered Greece, the cheesecake recipe was just one spoil of war. They modified it including crushed cheese and eggs. These ingredients were baked under a hot brick and it was served warm. Occasionally, the Romans would put the cheese filling in a pastry. The Romans called their cheese cake “libuma” and they served it on special occasions. Marcus Cato, a Roman politician in the first century B.C., is credited as recording the oldest known Roman cheesecake recipe.
BAKLAVA CHEESECAKE RECIPE
- 1 12-ounce package sugar cookies, finely crumbled
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 4 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup walnuts, chopped
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 15 sheets Krinos 9″ x 14″ Fillo Dough, thawed
- 1/2 cup butter, melted
- 1/2 cup light corn syrup, heated
- To prepare crust, combine cookie crumbs and butter with fork. Press crumbs on bottom and up sides of 9″ springform pan.
- To prepare cheesecake, in large bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar on high speed for about 10 minutes until fluffy. Add lemon juice, vanilla and eggs, one at a time. Beat until smooth. Pour into springform pan.
- To prepare baklava, combine walnuts, sugar, butter and cinnamon in bowl.
- To cut fillo sheets into 9″ rounds, cut a pattern out of wax paper that is 9″ round, and fold in half. Fold 15 fillo sheets in half so short ends meet. Place the straight edge of the wax paper round on the folded edge of the fillo. Cut the fillo following the pattern. Layer and butter 5 sheets and place on cheesecake filling. Spread the walnut mixture over the fillo. Layer and butter another 5 sheets of fillo including top layer and place on top of walnut mixture. Layer and butter another 5 sheets, lightly score into 10 equal sections without cutting all the way to center or outer edge. Place on top of cheesecake. Trim fillo rounds to fit pan, if needed.
- Bake in preheated 325°F oven for 1 1/2 hours or until golden brown. Slowly spoon warm syrup over cheesecake to avoid runoff. Cool to room temperature. Refrigerate for 6 to 12 hours before slicing.