Baklava

We love baklava around here – its such a decadent dessert. The first time I made baklava I admit I was intimidated – it really does seem like a complicated dessert. But after that first time, I realized while it does take a little time to put together, it really is not so complicated.

Baklava is really just layers of phyllo dough, melted butter, and a nut mixture that is baked until golden brown. A simple syrup is then poured over the baklava after it comes out of the oven. The hardest part, I think, is waiting for it to cool completely – a couple of hours seems like forever, but is really important for allowing the syrup to soak into the phyllo sheets.

Prepare Syrup and Nut mixture and set aside while phyllo dough and baking dish are prepped.

Syrup

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1/2 cup agave syrup
1 tsp vanilla

Sugar and water are heated on stovetop until sugar is completely dissolved. Agave syrup and vanilla are then added and mixture is allowed to simmer for 10-15 minutes. Syrup should be cooled completely before pouring over the baklava.

Nut mixture

3 cups nuts ( (I like a 1:1:1 mixture of almonds, walnuts and pistachios)
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Combine ingredients in the food processor and pulse until ground coarsely but NOT into powder. Set aside.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Thaw phyllo dough before starting. Each package of phyllo dough typically has two packs of rolled up dough, and for a 9″ x 13″ baking dish, one roll will suffice.

Butter the baking dish (I use Earth Balance). Place two sheets of dough in the baking dish and brush on melted Earth Balance (1/2 cup melted should be plenty), making sure to completely cover the sheets. Sprinkle a layer of nut mixture over phyllo, 3 – 4 Tbsp should be plenty. Try for even coverage, and don’t forget your corners!

Two more sheets go on, followed by melted Earth Balance and nut mixture. After the final layer of nuts is spread, a final layer of phyllo dough goes on. Place these individually and butter each sheet. 

Before putting baking dish in the oven, use a serrated blade to cut the baklava into squares. Once the baklava bakes, the phyllo will be too crisp so it’s important to cut BEFORE baking!

The baking dish goes into the oven for 45 minutes, and immediately after removing, the cooled syrup is poured over the baklava. Let the baklava cool for a few hours at room temperature before serving. This allows the syrup to really soak into the layers.

If you love baklava, you really should try making it. Its a lot easier than you think and totally worth the effort!

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