Monday, February 21, 2011

Sweet Endings - Baklava

Baklava.  Bak-la-va.  Bak-lava!  Any way you choose to pronounce it, it translates into ooey-gooey
sweet 'n nutty goodness!

I've wanted to make this for some time now.  But, I've always been intimidated by the whole process.  Well, it wasn't hard.  Tedious is the word I would use.  You do have to be very careful with the phyllo dough.  The little darlings are frail and delicate.  Just remember, keep them covered with a damp (not wet) kitchen towel when you're not working with them.  Also, I thawed both rolls of phyllo dough, but I didn't open the second until I actually needed it.

I scoured the internet for recipes for baklava and just took an understanding on the flavors involved and the technique used and ran with it.

I strained the syrup
1-1/2 c water
1-1/2 c white sugar
1 c honey
1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
one lemon, zested and juiced

In a medium saucepan, over medium high heat, add all your ingredients.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 20 minutes.  Strain into a large measuring cup and place in the refrigerator until you need it. 

1 box of phyllo dough, thawed using the manufacturer's instructions (there should be 2 rolls)
4 c of nuts (I used a combo of roasted pistachio and walnuts
2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup butter, melted

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F ( I did mine at 325 degrees because I was using a glass pan).  Brush the entire interior of a 13 x 9 inch baking pan with melted butter.  Wet a kitchen towel and wring it out until it's damp.  Set aside.  Add the nuts and cinnamon to your food processor and pulse to a fine chopped.  You do not want them ground into a paste.  Dump your nuts a bowl and set them to the side.  Unroll your phyllo dough, lay it out on a large cutting board, or flat surface, and trim to fit the inside of your pan, leaving one sheet whole.  Cover any dough that your are not working with with the damp towel. Take the whole sheet and carefully lay it in the pan.  Gently work it into the corners and up the side.  Brush with butter.  Lay one of the trimmed phyllo dough on top and brush with butter.  Repeat until you have 8 sheets of dough in the pan.  Sprinkle a thin layer of the nut mixture on the dough.  Add three more layers of dough, buttering each one.  Repeat the nut and dough process until you either run out of nuts, or room in your pan (leave enough room for your final layers.  End with a layer of eight sheets of butter dough.  
Look at all those layers!
Here's the hard part, using a very, very sharp knife cut the baklava into to serving sized pieces.  Traditionally it's cut into little diamond shaped pieces, but I can't draw a straight line much less cut out diamonds.

Bake for 50 minutes. 

Once you remove the baklava from the oven, pour your syrup all over the top and set aside.  When it cools to room temperature, cover with foil and leave overnight.


Afterthoughts:  This is a very sweet dessert.  Believe me when I say you will not want this every day.  When I make this again I'll probably 1.  make a smaller batch and 2.  add more phyllo dough between layers, maybe five sheets instead of three .. but that's me.

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