Baklava Recipe
Other Desserts Uncategorized

I Made Baklava for the First Time and They Were Amazing! (and easy too!)

I am a big fan of baklava when it’s done well. In my town, there is a restaurant called Arabesque Foods of the Middle East that has phenomenal baklava on their menu with the most delicious syrup. I look forward to eating it every time we go there. It’s a dessert that I’ve considered trying to make myself but never got around to it … until now!

I have a recipe for baklava in my Cook’s Illustrated cookbook but I decided to look at recipes on the internet to see what others did as well. I knew the sort of flavours I wanted, so after some searching, I ended up doing a combination of the recipe from my cookbook and the one from The Mediterranean Dish with a couple of tweaks of my own.

This dessert is not hard to make at all, but you do have to account for time to cool the honey syrup and it is recommended to make it the day before so that the syrup has time to completely soak into the baklava. For my syrup, I used equal parts honey and sugar and added a cinnamon stick, cloves, some orange peel and some lemon juice for a hint of citrus. The syrup is brought to a boil and then simmered for 25 minutes. Then the syrup must cool completely.

The actual baklava consists of 2 layers of a nut, sugar and spice mixture that is sandwiched between layers of butter-brushed phyllo pastry. After finishing the layers you then cut the baklava into diamonds and bake for about an hour until golden and crisp. After baking you drizzle most of the cooled syrup between the lines of your cut diamonds and then a bit over the top. I chose to also top the baklava with chopped pistachio nuts for a touch of colour.

The hardest part? Waiting until the next day to try them! They smelled so good after baking them and adding the syrup and it took all of my willpower not to sample a piece the night I made them!

Today after I finished my morning of teaching, I finally got to try a piece. It was so good! I liked the amount of nuts that I had put in. You could taste that there were spices but they weren’t overpowering and the syrup was delicious! Sometimes baklava can be too sweet, but I found they had the right balance of sweet, spice, butter and the slight citrus note.

There are a great make-ahead dessert, but be careful of the tempting aroma … you might have trouble waiting until the next day!

Baklava Recipe
Yields: 32 Servings Difficulty: Medium Prep Time: 30 Mins Cook Time: 1 Hr Total Time: 1 Hr 30 Mins

Baklava

This baklava recipe has two layers of mixed chopped nuts and spices layered in between butter-soaked sheets of phyllo pastry. After cooking the baklava is drizzled with a delicious spiced syrup. Prepare these the day before you want to eat them to ensure the syrup has properly soaked into the baklava. You can alter the nuts to use what you have of either walnuts, almonds or pistachios for a total of 5 cups.

Ingredients

0/18 Ingredients
Adjust Servings
    For the Honey Syrup
  • For the Nut Mixture
  • For Assembly

Instructions

0/14 Instructions
    For the Honey Syrup
  • Place honey, sugar, water, cinnamon stick, cloves, salt, orange peel and lemon juice in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Cover and let simmer on low heat for 25 minutes. Turn off heat and let cool to room temperature. Remove cinnamon, cloves and orange peel. Chill in the fridge until ready to use.
  • For the Nut Mixture
  • Pulse walnuts, almonds and pistachios in the food processor until, finely chopped, about 20 pulses. Do not over chop as you do not want a paste or fine meal. Pour mixture into a bowl and combine with sugar, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and salt.
  • For Assembly and Baking
  • Preheat oven to 325F and place oven rack in the lower middle position.
  • Use a pair of clean scissors to cut phyllo sheets in half, width-wise. Stack the sheets and cover with a clean dishtowel to keep them from drying out.
  • For the buttering, scoop off any foam that has formed on top of the butter and try to use only the top portion of the butter and not the solids that settle on the bottom. This will help the baklava brown more evenly. Generously brush the bottom and sides of a 9 x 13 inch baking pan that has 2-inch sides.
  • Layer one-third of phyllo sheets over the bottom of the pan, brushing each sheet with butter before adding the next one.
  • Spread half of the nut mixture evenly over the layered phyllo sheets.
  • Layer another third of the phyllo sheets over the nut mixture brushing each sheet with butter before adding the next one.
  • Spread the second half of the nut mixture evenly over the layered phyllo sheets.
  • Top with last third of phyllo sheets, again brushing with butter between each layer and finishing with a final brush of butter over the top sheet.
  • Using a sharp knife with a pointed tip, cut the baklava into diamonds in 4 rows of 8 diamonds.
  • Bake baklava until golden and crisp, about 1 hour, rotating halfway through baking.
  • Immediately pour all but 2 tbsp of the cooled syrup over the cut lines of the baklava. Drizzle remaining syrup over the top and sprinkle with chopped pistachio nuts if desired.
  • Let baklava cool completely in the pan, then cover with aluminum foil and let sit overnight before serving.

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