Baklava is a popular dessert of Middle Eastern and Greek cuisines. There are no words that can truly describe the mouth-watering and sumptuous eating experience that baklava offers. No wonder it has numerous claims about its actual place of origin. The exotic and different ingredients of baklava add to its full-bodied taste. Though it has a slightly lengthy preparation method, the end result is worth it.
- 1 pound mixed nuts (chopped)
- 1 packet (16 ounce) phyllo or filo pastry
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 cup butter (melted)
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 cup water
- ½ cup honey
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest (grated)
- Preheat the oven to 350 °F (175 °C). Butter a 9x13 inch baking dish.
- Mix the cinnamon and nuts together. Cut the filo pastry stack in half to make them fit in the baking dish and cover them to keep from drying.
- In the baking dish, place 2 sheets of filo, and brush them generously with butter. Sprinkle 2-3 tablespoons of nut mixture over them.
- Repeat the layers, until the nut mixture is over; 6 sheets of filo will be used. Cut the baklava (all the way through to the bottom of the dish) into 4 long, diagonal rows, then 9 times diagonally, to make 36 diamond shapes.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 50 minutes, or until they turn crisp and golden.
- In a pan placed over medium heat, mix the sugar in the water, and bring it to a boil. Add in the honey, vanilla, and lemon zest, then reduce the heat, and let the mixture simmer for 20 minutes.
- Remove the baklava from the oven, let the layers cool, and then spoon the syrup over it. Once cooled completely, serve.
With Chocolate Filling
- 1 cup hazelnut chocolate spread
- 1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick
- ½ cup hazelnuts (toasted, chopped)
- ½ cup pistachios (toasted, chopped)
- ⅓ cup almonds (blanched, toasted, chopped)
- ⅓ cup walnuts (toasted, chopped)
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup water
- ¾ cup honey
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ cup butter (melted)
- 24 sheets (14x9 inch) filo dough
- Mix the honey, water, and the cinnamon stick in a saucepan, over low heat. Stir till the honey dissolves. Increase the heat to medium and cook without stirring for about 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and discard the cinnamon stick.
- Preheat the oven to 350 °F. Melt the hazelnut chocolate spread, and mix in the hazelnuts, pistachios, almonds, walnuts, cinnamon, and salt. Butter a baking dish lightly.
- Place 1 filo sheet lengthwise in the baking dish, and brush it with butter. Do the same with 5 more filo sheets. Drizzle about ⅓ cup of chocolate spread over the filo. Sprinkle ⅓ of the nut mixture evenly over the spread.
- Place 5 sheets over this filled sheet and repeat the butter, spread, and nut layering. Press gently into pan.
- Cut the filo sheets into 24 portions, with 3 lengthwise cuts and 5 diagonal cuts. Bake for 35 minutes or until the filo turns golden. Remove the baking dish, let the baklava cool, and drizzle the honey water mixture over it. Cool completely, and serve.
- Remember to slice the baklava before baking.
- Try to keep the filo pastry covered as much as possible. When exposed to air, it dries out.
- Use butter for a rich flavor and taste.
- If you cannot use or find filo pastry, use strudel dough as a substitute.
- For a Lebanese twist, add rosewater or orange blossom water to the nuts.
- Instead of chocolate spread, you can melt semisweet chocolate chips.
- For a low-fat baklava version, substitute margarine for butter and use sugar substitutes.
- Wrap up the left over baklava and refrigerate.
Baklava making takes patience and practice but it is a worthy dessert to call one's masterpiece. A well-baked baklava will have everyone envying your cooking skills, so go ahead and try these recipes.