Baklava is a rich and sweet Greek dessert made of buttery sheets of phyllo dough and nuts drizzled with syrup or honey. It is sometimes flavored with cinnamon and cloves. Its origin is unknown but some think that it originated from Turkey.
For those who has never worked with phyllo dough, this can be a little daunting since they easily dry out and tear. The key is to make sure you cover the dough in damp (not soaking wet) towel while you assemble. If the dough is frozen, make sure to thaw it completely. I usually thaw mine in the refrigerator for a day before I use them. It just makes it easier to handle since they easily separate from one another. When you brush the butter, just apply a light coating instead of drowning the sheet.
16 oz. package of phyllo dough
3/4 cup melted butter
1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
1 cinnamon stick, broken into half
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup honey
3 strips of lemon rind (about 2-3 inches long each)
To make the syrup:
1. Using a begetable peeler, peel the outer skin of the lemon. Make sure you are only taking the yellow portion and not the pith (white part)
2. Heat sauce pan over medium. Add water and sugar. Heat while stirring occassionally until sugar is dissolved.
3. Add cinnamon stick, lemon peel, vanilla, and honey
4. Continue to simmer for about 10-20 minutes.
5. Remove from heat and strain to remove cinnamon stick and lemon peel.
6. Let it cool completely before using.
To assemble Baklave:
1. Mix pecans and walnuts in a bowl and set aside.
2. Preheat oven to 350F.
3. Butter the bottom and side of a 9X13 baking dish.
4. Place a layer of phyllo dough at the bottom of the baking dish then lightly butter. Add another layer and butter the top again. Continue to do this until you have around 6-8 layers of buttered phyllo dough.
5. Sprinkle mixture of walnut and pecans over the top of the phyllo dough stack and pour about 2-3 Tbsp of cooled syrup.
6. Place another later of phyllo dough over the nuts layer and brush with butter. Repeat this 3 times then add a layer of mixed nuts and syrup.
7. Stack another 3 layers of buttered phyllo dough then a layer of nut mixture and syrup. By now you have 3 nut layers.
8. For the top layer, stack 6-8 layers of buttered phyllo dough.
9. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 10-15 minutes. NOTE: This solidifies butter thus making it easier to cut.
10. Cut the uncooked Baklava into 2X2 inch squares (or, diamond if you prefer).
11. Bake for about 30-40 minutes or until the top turned golden brown.
12. Remove from the oven and drizzle syrup all over the hot baklava. NOTE:You don't have to use all of the syrup is you don't want it to be too sweet.
13. Let it cool for about 1-2 hours(preferrably longer to allow the baklava to soak up all of the syrup) before removing from tray and serving. Do not cover while you are letting it cool.