Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Baklava

One of my ALL TIME favorite sweet treats is Baklava.  It's the only other dessert besides cake, that I craaaave!  I just love the crunch and the sweet taste of honey.  It is simply delicious!  Although to make it yourself takes a lot of love.  The good news is this recipe makes a lot, so you can share with neighbors and friends or stash away for yourself, because this one only gets better with time.  I apologize for the lack of pictures in this post, it is kind of a hard process and I am sure pictures would have helped.  So I will try to be very descriptive :)  I had a buddy to help me make this which saved a little time, but if you are doing it by yourself I would carve out about two hours to complete.  This recipe is from one of my favorite cook books The Best Recipe.  But the International version.  This is a great cookbook because they have already gone through the process of finding the best process and ingredients and therefore recipe.  Everything I have made from here has been amazing!


BAKLAVA

Before you start make sure your phyllo dough is completely thawed.  If it was in the freezer, let it sit on the counter for 4-5 hours or in the refrigerator overnight.  If using the smaller size 14x9, you can use a 13x9 baking dish, glass or metal.  I used a jelly roll pan, because my phyllo was the large size 14x18, but I would double the sugar syrup part next time. If you get the large size phyllo you can also just cut them in half and still use the 13x9 baking dish.  You can refreeze any unused phyllo.

Sugar Syrup (double if using jelly roll pan)
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup water
1/3 cup honey
1 4-inch long zest from 1 lemon (run a vegetable peeler from pole to pole to remove long wide strips of zest)
1 tablespoon juice from 1 lemon
1 cinnamon stick
5 whole cloves
1/8 teaspoon salt

Nut filling
2 1/2 cups of blanched slivered almonds
1 cup of walnuts
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt

Pastry and Butter
3 sticks (1 1/2 cups) unsalted butter, clarified (see instructions below)
plus more for buttering the pan
1 pound phyllo, thawed

Clarified Butter
Cut butter into 1 inch chunks.
Melt in small saucepan over medium-low heat, about 10 minutes.
Take off heat and let cool for another 10 minutes.
Take a soup spoon and skim off white part. 
Wha-la clarified butter!

For the Sugar Syrup:
Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan over medium high heat, bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.  Transfer to a measuring cup (2c or 4c if doubled).  A glass or metal bowl would work as well.  Let cool. It will get thicker as it cools.  Then discard the spices and zest.  Can be stored in an airtight container for up to 4 days in refrigerator.

For the Nut Filling:
Pulse the almonds and walnuts in food processor until very finely chopped.  About 25 pulses.  Transfer to med bowl and reserve 1 Tbls. for garnish.  Stir the remaining filling ingredients into the nuts.  Set aside.

To Assemble and Bake (this is the part that takes love and patience):
Heat oven to 300 degrees.  Unwrap and unfold the phyllo and carefully smooth it with your hands to flatten.  Cover with plastic wrap, then a damp kitchen towel.  Butter your pan.
If you have any sheets that are broken try to use in the middle layers, save the whole sheets for the top and bottom.

Place 1 sheet at a time in the bottom of your pan and brush with your clarified butter until completely coated. Repeat 7 times. 
Distribute 1 cup of the nut filling and spread accross sheets.
Place 1 sheet on top of the filling and dab with butter, brushing might make it slip.  Repeat 4-5 times, brushing the butter on each layer.
Distribute 1 cup of the nut filling and spread accross sheets.
Place 1 sheet on top of the filling and dab with butter.  Repeat 4-5 times, brushing the butter on each layer.
Distribute 1 cup of the nut filling and spread accross sheets.
Finish with 8-10 more sheets of buttered phyllo.

Using your hands compress layers removing air bubbles working from center to outer edge.
Cut baklava into diamonds or squares using serrated knife, then bake until golden crisped, about 1 1/2 hours.  Rotating the pan halfway through baking.

Immediately after removing from oven, pour the cooled syrup over the cut lines of the baked baklava.  Drizzle about 2-4 tablespoons over the top.
Garnish with chopped nuts.
Cool about 3 hours.  Then cover with foil and let stand about 8 hours before serving. 
You may serve after cool, but the flavors and texture will improve if left to stand.  It can be wrapped in foil tightly and kept at room temperature for up to 10 days.

Enjoy!




3 comments:

  1. Just Awarded you the Versatile Blogger award over at www.pincushioncreations.com Check it out!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Mmm that looks delicious! I am going to have to try making it.
    P.s. miss you!

    ReplyDelete

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