I am half Italian and half French, so I enjoy all the rich Italian and French desserts, but who doesn't? I love to impart the more traditional recipes to my husband and our 6 children, as opposed to the Americanized ones. Enjoy! This is commonly enjoyed around Easter.
Allow phyllo to thaw for about 10 minutes before unrolling. Each box usually has two rolls, you will only need the one.
Preheat to oven 325.
In a circular metal cake pan, either spray non-stick cooking spray or butter with your pastry brush. Then lay singular sheets of phyllo, buttering the entire sheet between every layer. Continue to do from different angles so that you end with a perfect circle. Leave flaps open at the moment.
In a mixing bowl, cream sugar and eggs. Then add all filling ingredients save the chocolate chips. Beat for 3 minutes.
Stir in chocolate chips and your optional rice with a wooden spoon. Pour into your phyllo pan.
Fold the corners over the filling, and butter with brush.
Place in oven and cook until toothpick comes out clean.
To make optional orange zest sugar mixture, just grate about a tablespoon of orange peel and add to a tablespoon of white sugar. Stir. The natural oil should bond to the sugar. Then break it apart with your fingers when applying so that it is not clumpy.
Remove from oven. Sprinkle your zest sugar mixture onto the phyllo portion, not the filling. Optional.
While cooling your pie, place filling ingredients save the chocolate chips and the zest mixture. Stir nuts until brown sugar is melting, bubbly, and reduced.
Spoon topping over the filling part only. Sprinkle chocolate chips.
I like to serve this chilled, but my husband prefers it still warm. The cheesecake sets better if it is chilled first and then rewarmed to serve.