What is there not to love about baklava. If you have never had it then I highly recommend following the recipe here and making it yourself – unless you have enough addictions in life and can’t afford another (but let’s be serious some addictions are really just necessities – like this one – it is necessary to try quite possibly one of the best dessert dishes out there). Baklava is a Turkish delight – the Turks taught the Greeks and thus many associate it as a Greek dessert now – which is definitely okay – as long as the Turks get the appropriate appraisal as well. Many Middle Eastern countries make baklava as well – and I am pretty sure it was while living in the Middle East that my great love for this dish was born.
One of the best baklava combos I ever had was a couple weeks back at a Greek restaurant where they paired it with vanilla ice-cream. Not just a scoop of ice-cream next to a piece of baklava, but rather baklava chunks in the ice-cream – frickin’ awesome. Sharing it with someone else made it that much better!
I have a potluck tomorrow with some of the girls I use to work with last year at the Study Abroad Office and last year I made baklava for them which they absolutely loved. After a few of them making comments to me about how much they liked it I thought I would make it for them again. It is a definite crowd please and taste and looks a lot harder to make then it really is. There are a few tricks behind making baklava – but as long as you know them before hand you will master this dish with your first attempt.
1 cup water
1 cup white sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ cup honey
couple tsp. lemon zest
For Nut Mixture:
1 lb. chopped nuts (I used a mixture of pecans and walnuts)
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ cup white sugar
16 Oz. Phyllo Dough
1lb. butter (I used spray butter since I didn’t have a pastry brush on hand and didnt even use the whole bottle – probably only half so this saved on calories..I think…).
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F(175 degrees C). Butter the bottoms and sides of a 9×13 inch pan.
Chop nuts and toss with cinnamon and sugar. Set aside.
Make the sauce before baking the baklava so that it has time to cool (secret to not having soggy baklava is to add cool sauce to hot out of the over baklva). Boil the sugar and water until the sugar has melted. Add the vanilla, honey, and lemon zest and let simmer for about 20 minutes. Then let it cool down.
Unroll the phyllo dough. Cut whole stack in half to fit pan. Cover phyllo with a dampened cloth to keep from drying out as you work. Place two sheets of dough in pan, butter thoroughly. Repeat until you have 8 sheets layered. Sprinkle 2 – 3 tablespoons of nut mixture on top. Top with two sheets of dough, butter, nuts, layering as you go. The top layer should be about 6 – 8 sheets deep.
Using a sharp knife cut into diamond or square shapes all the way to the bottom of the pan. You may cut into 4 long rows then you can make the diagonal cuts. Bake for about 50 minutes until baklava is golden and crisp.
Remove baklava from oven and immediately spoon sauce over it. Let cool. Serve in cupcake papers!
Leave it uncovered – it gets soggy if it is wrapped/covered up.
Watch it disappear!
Now I know that it turned out great (I snuck a bite) but I will be sure to get the rating tomorrow at the potluck! If you like honey then this definitely is the dessert for you!
-Update- the girls absolutely loved the baklava as did some of my housemates who tried it – it was a knock out of the park – will definitely have to make it again – if not because I want to experiment with it, but because someone request I make it (: