Baklava

I love this dessert. Seriously, we go way back to my childhood. I could eat endless amounts of it. In case you don’t know, it’s a Mediterranean dessert that is just to die for. It’s filled with nuts, honey, and delicate phyllo dough. The recipe calls for a lot of sugar but when you eat this dessert, it’s sweet but not overwhelmingly I-need-to-never-eat-sugar-again-I’m-going-to-die sweet.

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What’s phyllo dough, you ask? I would assume most people know what it is but all I know is this: it’s awesome. It’s the thinnest effing thing you’ll ever bake with. Essentially, the “dough” is ridiculously thin sheets used in a lot of dishes. Most commonly, it’s used for spanakopita, baklava, and a ton of other pastries.

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Yes, phyllo dough terrifies me a bit. I do not have a delicate hand. Rather, I just don’t take the proper measures to handle delicate things properly. So what I’m trying to say is, I’m surprised my baklava actually turned out normal without torn pieces of phyllo dough everywhere.

I used cashews and almonds for today’s version. Honestly, it’s because I really didn’t feel like shelling out $10 for a little bag of pistachios. In my opinion, any type of nut you like to eat can be used for this dessert.

Is it a difficult recipe? No. Is it tedious? A little bit. Only because you’ll have to brush tons of butter for every 2 microscopically thin sheets of phyllo dough. The stack of the sheets seemed like it would never go away but after about 10 minutes, I was ready to bake. But you need patience. Every time you brush the butter onto the dough, the sheets start moving. I got pretty annoyed but then again, I have no patience.

Phyllo dough is usually found in the frozen section with pie shells. Just let it thaw properly and you’ll have a great dessert in no time! Other than that, you just need some basic ingredients. Bake away!

Time: 45 minutes

Makes 1 pan of baklava (I used a 9″x 13″ glass pan)

Ingredients:
1 roll of phyllo dough (usually comes in a box with two packages; I cut my phyllo sheets in half since I used a smaller pan but if you are using a larger pan, you must use the two rolls in the package)
1 cup of nuts (of your choice. I used almonds and cashews)
1 stick of butter, melted and cooled
1.5 cups sugar
3/4 cup water
2 lemon peels
2 tablespoons honey

1. In a pot, combine water, sugar, lemon peels, and honey. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Allow to cool once sugar is dissolved.

2. When ready (with dough thawed and butter melted and cooled), coarsely process the nuts. You want the nuts to a coarse meal.

3. In your pan, brush the bottom with butter. Layer your first 2 layers of phyllo dough.

4. Repeat the process of brushing butter on the dough and adding 2 layers until you are about 1/3 through the stack of dough.

5. Sprinkle about 1/3 cup of the nuts over the layered dough. Continue layering until you have about 1/3 left of phyllo dough.

6. Add your remaining nuts and continue layering with dough and butter.

7. After your final layer of phyllo dough, brush the top with butter and with a sharp knife, create a diamond shaped pattern, cutting all the way down to the bottom of the pan. Or, cut into a rectangular pattern.

8. Stick in the oven (preheated to 350 degrees F) and bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes.

9. Remove from oven and pour the sugar syrup all over the pan. It will seem like a lot but it NEEDS it!

10. Allow to sit for about 2 hours before eating. Enjoy!

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