Our friends Kelly and Russell had us over for dinner the other night for a Turkish feast. We were tasked with dessert and decided to make baklava. We thought it only fitting.
Baklava is very easy to make, but quite time intensive because lots of layering is involved. This was my second attempt at baklava and it took me about 2 hours to make, including baking time, but was worth the time investment. This baklava is delicious and balanced. I find that it is best the first day, but do admit it’s not exactly terrible with coffee the next morning.
1 (16 oz) package of phyllo dough
1 pound nuts, chopped (We used 1/3 lb each pistachios, walnuts and pecans)
1 cup butter, melted
1 t cinnamon
1/4 t freshly grated nutmeg
2 T sugar
For the syrup
1 cup water
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup honey
zest of 1/2 orange
1 t vanilla
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Butter the sides and bottom of a 9″ x 13″ baking dish.
Chop nuts or chop in a food processor. Add cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar to nut mixture, and set aside. Melt the butter.
Unroll phyllo dough and cut the dough to the size of your baking dish with a sharp knife. Roll up the extra and return it to the fridge or freezer. Cover with a damp paper towel to keep dough from ripping.
To layer the dough, put down a sheet and brush lightly with butter. Top with another sheet. Brush with melted butter and top with another sheet of pastry. Continue to do this until you’ve layered eight sheets of dough.
Spread a thin layer of the nut mixture and top with another sheet of dough. Layer on another eight sheets, with butter between each sheet. It is important to put butter between each sheet of dough so you end up with a flaky pastry. If you don’t put the butter between the layers, the baklava will be very dense, and that’s no fun.
Continue to layer eight pieces of dough and one thin layer of nuts until you’ve used up all of the nut mixture. I used a 9″ x 13″ pan and my baklava had three layers of nuts. Cut into diamond shapes with a sharp knife. Bake for 50 minutes.
While the baklava is baking, combine the water and sugar in a small saucepan. Heat until the sugar is dissolved. Add the honey and zest and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let it cool for 10 more minutes before adding the vanilla.
When you remove the baklava from the oven, pour the honey sauce over the dish and let it cool. Remove once cooled and place in paper cupcake cups. To store, place in a cookie tin or leave uncovered on a plate. Enjoy!