Of all the recipes I’ve learned over the years, Baklava is one of my all time favorites. This tasty dessert is found throughout Greece, the Middle East, and in many other cultures as well. There are many varieties of Baklava. Some contain more spices than others, and different nuts are used in various versions. It’s a bit time consuming to make, but once you’ve done it, it’s a piece of cake!
Turkish Baklava, for example, usually doesn’t contain many spices. Cinnamon is used but often nothing else. In contrast, the version I created combines many flavors with two kinds of nuts. Play around with this recipe to make it your own. If you love walnuts, use them alone. If you like almonds, use them alone. Or pistachios. Or combine two or more nuts. There’s really not a wrong way to make this dish. As long as you use the spices and seasonings you love, chances are your family or guests will love it too. And when you do create your own version of this recipe, you’ll have a signature dessert your friends and family will be begging you to share. You can give them your recipe or if you want to make sure they come back for more, leave out an ingredient or two. Shhhh. I won’t tell.
To make this recipe you’ll need:
1 package filo (phyllo) dough – found in your grocer’s freezer section
1-1½ sticks melted butter
1 pound chopped nuts (I use half walnuts and half almonds-they need to be chopped fine)
3-cups granulated sugar
¼- teaspoon nutmeg
For the syrup:
2-cups granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon cloves
¾ tsp. cinnamon
To Make This Recipe:
In a medium bowl, mix the walnuts, almonds, 1 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon nutmeg, and 1/8 teaspoon cloves.
Melt the butter in a pan.
Open the filo (phyllo) dough and roll the package out. You’ll need to have a damp (not wet) towel nearby to cover the filo (phyllo) dough after each layer. Otherwise, it will dry out VERY quickly.
In a 13×9 dish, place one sheet of filo (phyllo) dough. Using a pastry brush, brush the sheet of dough with butter. Place another sheet of dough on top and brush it with butter. Continue this process. After 6 sheets of filo (phyllo) dough have been laid down and buttered, sprinkle ½ of the nut mixture evenly on top. Continue the process, laying 6 more sheets of filo (phyllo) dough on top of the nut mixture, remembering to butter each sheet before placing the next on top. Top with remaining nuts. Repeat the process with the remaining sheets of filo (phyllo) dough, buttering each, until all dough is used (there should be about 8 more sheets). Liberally butter the top sheet and use a sharp knife to cut the baklava into rectangles or triangles.
Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until golden.
In the meantime, prepare the syrup: Bring 1-cup water, 2 cups sugar, and the remaining cloves and cinnamon to a boil. Simmer for 20 minutes or until thick. Pour mixture over the baklava and allow it to cool completely before serving.
Filo (phyllo) dough is very thin and breaks easily. This is okay for the bottom layers since they won’t be seen. Take special care not to break the top layer for a lovely appearance. If it tears accidentally though it’s okay—it’s still going to taste delicious.