Homemade Baklava: A fool-proof dessert

BY AMANDA PIEDIMONTE

Baklava
Photo Credit: Katherine Macnaughton

A few years ago, I offered to make dessert for Aurélie’s birthday dinner. Not having a huge sweet tooth, as alluded to here, she instructed me to go nutty rather than chocolatey or fruity. And so the idea of making homemade baklava was born! (Actually, I couldn’t decide between baklava or hazelnut crème brûlée so I made both…)

Making baklava is just like making lasagna  – it’s all about assembling ingredients, except people are so very impressed. Here’s how to make baklava that’ll rival that of your Greek (or Turkish or Lebanese or…) friend’s Grandmother’s:

Ingredients
1 (16-ounce) package thin phyllo pastry
6 cups nuts – I used walnuts and pistachios
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups melted unsalted butter
1 cup water
1/2 cup honey
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Baklava
Photo Credit: Katherine Macnaughton

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 F. Butter the bottoms and sides of a 9 by 13-inch pan (or whatever pan you use to make lasagna)
  2. Using a food processor – or, like me, large Ziploc bag and rolling pin – crush the nuts. Careful not to turn them into powder! You can buy crushed nuts, but they’ll be significantly dryer than if you crush them yourself. And besides, smashing a Ziploc bag with a rolling pin is very therapeutic.
  3. Set aside a handful of crushed nuts to use as a finishing touch
  4. Mix the nuts with cinnamon, 1/4 cup sugar, and 1/4 cup of melted butter
  5. Unroll the phyllo pastry – you may need to cut the sheets to fit the pan – and cover your stack with a damp kitchen towel
  6. Lay 2 phyllo sheets in the pan and using a brush, butter thoroughly. Repeat until you have 6 sheets layered.
  7. Sprinkle 1 1/2 cups nut mixture on top.
  8. Repeat steps 5 & 6 until you have 4 layers of nuts and dough. Top with 6 layers of dough.
  9. Cut diamond or square shapes all the way to the bottom of the pan. This is the nerve-wrecking part because you want your baklava to look pretty but you’ve got your fingers in the dough and it’s starting to look messy. Don’t worry – just cut away, then reposition the dough and once it’s baked, it’ll look great.
  10. Bake for 50 minutes, the baklava will be golden and crisp and your house will smell wonderful
  11. Meanwhile, boil the water and remaining sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Add the honey and vanilla. Simmer for 5-10 minutes.
  12. Remove the baklava from the oven, spoon the sauce over it and let cool before digging in.

Enjoy!

 

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One thought on “Homemade Baklava: A fool-proof dessert

  1. Joelle says:

    Love this treat and the recipe looks so easy. Will definitely try making them.

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