The exact origin of Baklava is not known, but it is traditionally known as a Greek dessert. Because of the amount of work it takes to prepare it, this treat is typically saved for celebrations and family gatherings. Each region and each family has their own unique recipe, with alterations in which nuts & spices are used, the number of sheets of phyllo are used, how the phyllo is coated with butter or oil before being baked, and what shape the pastries are cut into.
I am not Greek, but I do long to visit one day, and I share the love for the culture’s cuisine. For that reason, I discovered a simpler recipe for baklava that I have practiced and altered to make my own. I encourage you to take this recipe and do the same, making it your own!
1 roll of phyllo dough (I use frozen, but I let it thaw in the fridge overnight before using)
1 lb pecans (you can use mixed nuts if you prefer)
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup butter, melted (use light to lower the calorie & fat contents)
1 cup water
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F & coat a 9×13 baking dish.
2. Toss nuts, cinnamon & nutmeg until well mixed. Unroll the phyllo dough and cover with a damp cloth while making the dish to prevent it from drying out.
3. Place 2-3 sheets of phyllo on the bottom of the dish & brush generously with butter. Sprinkle with nut mixture. Repeat until all of the ingredients are used, and end with at least 6 sheets of phyllo on the top. Use a sharp knife to cut 4 long rows (all the way through to the bottom) and 9 times diagonally to make 36 diamond shapes. This is where you can change the recipe up to cut the pastries into the shape you prefer.
4. Bake in the oven about 40 minutes, until golden and flaky.
5. While baklava is baking, combine sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Stir in honey, vanilla and lemon zest, reduce heat and simmer 10-15 minutes.
6. Remove the baklava from the oven & pour the liquid syrup evenly over the top. Let cool completely before removing the pieces for serving.
Recipe inspired by: http://www.kitchme.com