Baklava – the dessert of the Mediterranean! 🙂
A hallmark of Greek cuisine, variants of baklava are found in virtually all the countries of the Levant (aka The Middle East).
My version incorporates mostly pistachio with some walnut for additional flavor.
The sultry syrup I’ve created for this uses rose and orange waters in a nod to the Levant and Apricot juice as a salute to Turkey, which grows the best apricots in the world! Typically, a baklava syrup is just sugar and water or occasionally honey and water.
The sugar flavoring the nut mixture has several spices to excite your palate as well.
Basically, this is the best baklava you’ll ever eat or serve – I guarantee it. 🙂
Battle on – The Generalissimo
1 lb. phyllo dough
¾ pound of unsalted pistachios, finely chopped
½ pound of walnuts, finely chopped
½ lb. sweet butter, melted
8 ounces sugar
Grated rind of one orange
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon clove
1 teaspoon cardamom
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ginger
Pinch of salt
6 oz honey
¼ cup apricot juice
½ cup water
1 teaspoon rose water (available in Middle Eastern groceries or Amazon)
1 teaspoon orange flower water (available in Middle Eastern groceries or Amazon)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
finely ground pistachios to decorate top
Preheat oven to 325F. Mix finely chopped pistachios and walnuts with spiced sugar and orange rind. Lightly butter an 11″ x 16″ baking pan (jelly roll pan with 1″ high sides). Lay 1 sheet phyllo on pan and brush generously with butter.
Open the phyllo dough and layer 6 whole leafs in the pan, buttering each layer as you go. (The edges will extend over the side.)
Spread 1 cup of the pistachio/walnut mixture evenly over the layers.
Cut the remaining phyllo dough in half.
Layer 8 half sheets — butter each layer. Each sheet will be an inch or so short, so stagger the sheets from corner to corner to cover the whole pan. I use a pattern so I don’t forget how many layers I’ve put down, but it’s even easier if you have a friend helping!
Spread 1 cup of the pistachio/walnut mixture on top of this.
Repeat 8 sheets (each to be brushed with butter) and pistachio/walnut mixture twice. You will end up with 4 layers of nuts.
Brush the top with the remaining butter.
Trim the edges off.
Cut the baklava into 4 sections, the long way – but only cut halfway through the layers! Then cut diagonally across these to form diamonds, again halfway through the baklava – note that you must not cut directly from corner to corner!
Bake ½ hour at 325F. Reduce heat to 250F and bake 1 hour. Remove from oven, drain excess butter from pastry. Brush surface lightly with butter. Pour warm syrup over warm pastry a little at a time until all is absorbed.
When cool, cut through the lines you started all the way through the baklava to separate each piece. FYI – if you try to slice a baklava after it’s been cooked without having started the cuts earlier, it would basically shatter.
Allow to cool 24 hours or much longer. Will keep in refrigerator for weeks or it can also be frozen.
To make the syrup:
Combine all ingredients in a sauce pan. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer to a heavy syrup, 20-25 minutes.