Saturday, May 1, 2010

Baklava


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This past week I finally had an appetite—yay. I was craving Greek food for some reason—pitas, hummus, stuffed grape leaves, tzatziki sauce, etc. I’d had this baklava recipe marked for a long time, I just never felt like making it. But when I decided to make a Greek themed dinner, I had to include baklava for the dessert. I admit I was nervous about making it, I really love baklava and I was worried my homemade version would not live up to my expectations. I couldn’t have been more wrong…..

Oh my goodness, this was delicious. This was my first experience with phyllo and it went well. I had a couple of tears, but nothing too terrible. When eating, the top phyllo layers didn’t want to stay together, but most baklava is messy to eat. The taste is unbelievable. I’m glad I halved the syrup recipe (though this is probably the reason my baklava top was so flaky) because it was really sweet. I thought about using agave instead of honey but I worried agave would make it too sweet. (I personally think agave is sweeter than honey, and therefore when I substitute agave for honey I usually reduce the amount). Initially I was worried that even a half batch would yield more than the two of us could eat, but Mr.Surly liked it so much he’d eat two pieces at a time. Needless to say, it didn’t last long (thank goodness). I don’t know why I was so nervous to make this; it really wasn’t hard at all. Next time I might add some almonds to the walnut mixture.



Baklava
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8 oz (2 c) walnuts
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 (16 oz) package phyllo dough, thawed (I only used half the pkg)
½ c unsalted butter, melted (I was pretty liberal with the butter and needed to melt another couple Tbsp because I ran out)

Syrup:
½ c water
½ c sugar
¾ c honey
a couple dashes of cinnamon
2 tsp fresh lemon juice (I also added a little bit of zest)

Preheat oven to 350F.

Toast the walnuts, either in a dry skillet or a 300 degree oven, until fragrant. Once cooled, place in a food processor along with the cinnamon and cloves. Pulse until walnuts are pretty finely crushed and there are no large chunks.

Grease a 9×11 baking sheet*, and place one layer of phyllo at the bottom. Brush the phyllo with the melted butter, and then add another layer of phyllo, and brush with more butter. Continue this process until you have layered about 7 sheets of phyllo.

Spoon half of the nut mixture evenly over the top. Add a sheet phyllo, brush with butter and continue this for 5 sheets of buttered phyllo. Add remaining walnuts and top with 7 layers of buttered phyllo, make sure to butter the top layer.
Using a sharp knife, cut baklava into triangles. Place in the oven, and bake for about until golden brown, mine went about 30 minutes, and I rotated the pan halfway through baking. Allow to cool completely.

Once cooled, make the syrup. Combine all the ingredients and bring to a low boil. Turn the heat to simmer and simmer about 10-15 minutes. Pour over cooled baklava. Best served the next day.


*Note: I have a calphalon brownie pan I used. The phyllo was a little bit larger than the pan, but I just folded the extra bit down.


Source: adapted from elly says opa!

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