Saturday, December 18, 2010


This is a traditional dessert found in the Mediterranean. Actually, it is kind of an interesting thing, if you look it up. All over the Middle East, countries will claim it as their own, asserting that other countries stole the recipe or that their country improved it. You can click HERE to see a history of this fantastic, crunchy, sweet dessert. There are also apparently many different recipes. This particular recipe is Greek. Which seems appropriate since phyllo dough (the most important ingredient!) is also Greek. Or at least the word "phyllo" is Greek. 

Anyway, I saw some Baklava in a food catalog and decided it looked really good. I didn't really want to pay the price to try it through the company, so I looked up a recipe and made my own. I'm glad I did. I thought this stuff was wonderful! I took it to a family Thanksgiving party and everyone who tried it liked it. It's a little more labor intensive but that doesn't mean it's hard to make. It's actually super easy, it just takes time. However, I think it's well worth the time!

Recipe from allrecipes
18 servings or 3 dozen squares

Filling and dough:
1 (16 oz) package phyllo dough {this dough can be found in the frozen section of your grocery store - look near pie dough}
1 pound chopped nuts {I used walnuts though I think pecans would be even yummier!}
1 cup butter, melted
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup honey

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter the bottoms and sides of a 9x13 pan.
Chop nuts and toss with cinnamon. Set aside. Unroll phyllo dough. Cut off about two or three inches from one end so it will fit into your pan. 
I know this is probably the worst picture ever known to man. Or at least it's pretty close. {I have no idea why it turned like that. Sorry.} And the blue tint makes it even worse. I know. But I wanted to demonstrate just how thin phyllo dough really is. "Phyllo" is "named after the Greek word for leaf', being 'thin as a leaf'" {see above link}. Really, I would go with paper. This dough is paper thin.
Cover phyllo with dampened cloth to keep from drying out as you work. Place two sheets of dough in pan; using a pastry brush, butter throroughly. Butter the dough sheets carefully. Since they are so thin it can be easy to tear them if you aren't careful. Repeat until you have 8 sheets of layered dough.
You can see that my phyllo dough is climbin up the sides of my pan a little. I didn't experience any problems with this and actually liked the little extra dough it provided. You can, however, trim the dough to fit your pan exactly if that's what you want.

Sprinkle 2-3 tablespoons of nut mixture on top of phyllo dough layers.

Top with two sheets of dough, butter those sheets, then add more nuts. Continue layering in this manner until you feel the pan is full enough or you run out of nuts {which is what happened to me}. Just be careful not to use all your dough. You need 6-8 sheets for the top and final layer. Also, buttering the dough sheets after you start layering in the nuts can be a challenge. I found it easiest to get my pastry brush really buttery and then pat the butter onto the sheets. This kept the dough from tearing but enabled me to butter it thoroughly.

Cover the last layer of nuts with two sheets of phyllo dough and butter them. Then add two more sheets and layer as in the beginning until it is 6-8 sheets deep. On the final set of two sheets, be sure to butter well. That will help make that top layer nice and crispy!
Using a sharp knife that has been well buttered, cut into square or diamond shapes {I found squares easiest and they go further}. Be sure to cut all the way to the bottom of the pan. Bake for about 40-50 minutes or until Baklava is golden and crisp. My Baklava was definitely done after 40 minutes so be sure to check it at the lowest baking time.

Make the sauce while the baklava is baking.
Boil sugar and water until sugar is dissolved and incorporated. Add vanilla and honey. Simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring frequently.
Remove baklava from oven and immediately spoon sauce over it. The Baklava will be completely drenched in this honey liquid. Don't be alarmed. You did, in fact, do everything you were supposed to! The honey sauce will thicken as the Baklava and sauce cool and the nuts and dough will soak it up.
Let cool.

For a pretty touch, serve the sqaures in cupcake baking cups.
Leave it uncovered or it will get soggy.
Baklava freezes well. Just put individual pieces in a good freezer container and pop into the fridge. Pull it out a couple hours before serving and allow to thaw on the counter top.
Enjoy the crispy, honey goodness!

1 comment:

Mal said...

Amen to the homemade baklava! My mum made this for the first time when I was like 11 or 12 and I have LOVED it ever since! I made it for a test kitchen a month ago and everyone was like, "Wait, I didn't know you could actually MAKE it!" I was like, "Well, someone has to make it!" And you're right, it's not really difficult, it just takes a little while. But it is soooooo worth it.


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