1 cup sugar
8 whole cloves
8 cardamom pods, crushed
3 cinnamon sticks
1 lemon, thinly sliced crosswise into
10 oz. frozen shredded phyllo dough,
defrosted and roughly chopped
16 tbsp. unsalted butter (2 sticks), melted
1⁄2 lb. queso blanco or mozzarella,
grated (about 2 cups)
1⁄2 lb. ricotta (about 1 cup)
Greek yogurt or sour cream, for garnish
3 tbsp. ground pistachios, for garnish
1. Bring the sugar, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, lemon, and 3⁄4 cup water to a boil in a 1-qt. saucepan and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Remove pan from heat and let sit for 10 minutes. Strain the syrup through a sieve set over a small saucepan, discarding solids, and set aside.
2. Heat oven to 375˚. Put the phyllo and 12 tbsp. of the butter into a food processor and pulse until the mixture is just combined, about 30 seconds. Grease a 10" shallow pie pan with 2 tbsp. of the butter. Transfer half of the phyllo mixture to the pan and flatten it with a rubber spatula. Sprinkle the queso blanco over the phyllo mixture; then spread ricotta evenly over the top. Add remaining phyllo mixture on top of ricotta; flatten with a spatula. Drizzle top of phyllo mixture with remaining butter. Bake until golden brown, about 1 hour. Raise heat to broil and cook until crisp, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a rack and let cool slightly. Reheat syrup and drizzle over cake. Set aside to let syrup soak into cake, 4–5 minutes. Slice cake into wedges and serve topped with dollops of yogurt and sprinkled with pistachios.