I can’t begin to tell you how excited and flattered I am to be a guest blogger for Love,
Julie! While I’m extremely jealous of her future travels (Greece, really?!), I thought it
would be only right to celebrate her incredible trip to Greece by making their most
well-known dessert: Baklava.
I can’t remember my first experience with baklava. I’m sure I didn’t care for it much
when I was younger… nuts in things wasn’t really my bag.
However, I do remember when my now husband and I were first dating he brought
my Nana a piece of baklava from the bakery he worked for, and she LOVED it! He
100% won her over. That and he played golf in high school; I’m sure she would
have passed out if he were Catholic.
There has always been this intimidation factor that has kept me for attempting to
make baklava. People would always say that it was so challenging. Me, being a bit
of a perfectionist, decided it would be best to steer clear of this dessert at least for
the time being rather than mess it up.
What was I to do when Julie asked me to write a guest post? I knew that the oven
and baklava recipe were calling my name. So I decided to take that challenge.
After reading through the recipe, I didn’t get what the big deal was about the recipe.
Seemed pretty straightforward to me. But oh, no, no, no! Phyllo dough is one tricky
beast it is! Rips without cause, doesn’t lay where you want it to...
But I persevered! And so will you! Co-workers and friends will annihilate this
sweet treat within minutes. Don’t be scared. You can do it.
Recipe adapted from Emeril Lagasse (link: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/
For the Syrup:
• 1 cup honey
• 1 cup sugar
• ¾ cup water
• 1 tablespoon lemon juice
• 2 cinnamon sticks
• 1 (1-inch) strip lemon zest
• Pinch of clove & cardamom
For the Filling and Dough:
• 1 ½ pounds combination of walnuts and almonds
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1 teaspoon ground clove
• ¼ teaspoon salt
• 2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
• 1 pound phyllo, thawed according to package instructions
To make the syrup: Combine the sugar, honey, water, lemon juice, cinnamon sticks,
lemon zest, cloves and cardamom in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat,
stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until the sugar has dissolved. Reduce the
heat to medium-low and cook until the syrup is slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.
Remove the cinnamon sticks and lemon zest and set syrup aside to cool.
Using a Chef's knife, finely chop the nuts. (Alternatively, if you have a food processor,
pulse the nuts until finely chopped.) In a medium mixing bowl, combine the nuts,
cinnamon, and salt and stir well to combine.
Melt the butter over low heat in a small saucepan.
Using a pastry brush, lightly coat a 13 by 9-inch or 15 by 10-inch baking dish with some
of the melted butter.
Open the package of thawed phyllo and lay the thin sheets on a clean work surface.
Measure the phyllo sheets; if the type you have purchased measures approximately the
same size as the baking dish you are using, then proceed from here. If they are larger
than your baking dish, use a sharp knife to cut the phyllo sheets approximately the same
size as your baking dish. Discard any scraps. Cover the sheets with a piece of plastic
wrap and a lightly damp kitchen towel, as the sheets of phyllo dry out very quickly if left
Position rack in center of oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Place 1 of the sheets of phyllo in the bottom of the buttered baking dish and lightly brush
with some of the melted butter. Repeat this procedure with 6 more sheets of phyllo, for
a total of 7 layers. Measure about 3/4 cup of the nut mixture and spread the nut mixture
evenly over the buttered phyllo sheets. Repeat with 7 more sheets of phyllo, buttering
each layer as before, and top these sheets with another 3/4 cup of the nut mixture.
Continue this layering process, buttering 7 sheets of phyllo and topping each 7 sheets
with 3/4 cup of the nuts, until you have used all of the nut mixture. Layer any remaining
sheets of phyllo on top, buttering between each layer, until all of the phyllo sheets have
Use a sharp knife to make 4 cuts lengthwise through the layered phyllo at 1 1/2 inch
intervals. (You should end up with 5 lengthwise strips 1 1/2 inches wide.) Now use your
knife to cut diagonally across the strips at 1 1/2-inch intervals to form diamond shapes.
You should end up with approximately 36 diamond-shaped pieces of baklava in the
Bake the baklava until golden brown, about 40 minutes.
Using oven mitts or pot holders, remove the baklava from the oven and set aside on a
wire rack to cool for 5 minutes. Using a ladle or small measuring cup, slowly drizzle the
cooled syrup over the warm baklava. Allow to stand several hours before serving.
I can only hope I am lucky enough to be eating this delicious desserts A LOT during this vacation! Thanks Jill!