Archive | May 2012

Baklava – Simple and Delicious!

As you can see, I have not been as diligent as I should be when it comes to keeping up with my posts.  But I promise that this won’t be like the time I insisted so vehemently and yet so fruitlessly that I was going to keep a diary in the 9th grade.

Anyway, lately I have been trying my hand at different types of foods.  Making Asian themed dishes for dinner and trying some different desserts like Madeleines (to be found in a post to follow) and, in this case, Baklava!

Baklava was a huge surprise in all honesty largely because it is so delicious and yet so incredibly simple.  Though the phyllo dough is time consuming and the layering can be tedious (so put on some music while working!), the process itself could not be easier.


1 package (16 oz) phyllo dough

1 pound chopped walnuts (although can also use pistachios or other nuts instead)

1 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 cup water

1 cup granulated sugar

1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup honey

Before starting the layering process, make sure that your 9 x 13 pan is well greased with either more unsalted butter or with cooking spray.  I’m a big believer in cooking spray because of the no-calorie, ease-of-use thing but to each his own.

WARNING!!!!  Now here is a perfect example of where I made a big mistake that forced me to start from the beginning.  Please don’t judge me too much for this but I, for some reason, didn’t think about defrosting the phyllo dough.  None of the recipes I found online mentioned anything about it.  Turns out, it is VERY important.  Otherwise, the stuff just falls apart like brittle paper.

So now that I had purchased a whole new thing of phyllo dough and succeeded in defrosting it.  Never place it in the microwave, tried it and it was a HORRIBLE idea.  Defrost in the fridge for 12 hours or so or leave it at room temperature for no more than a couple hours.  I did the latter and it was extremely easy to work with.


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Chop the nuts or just buy them chopped which is what I did to save some time 🙂 Toss the nuts with the cinnamon and place to the side.

Now comes the tedium.  Unroll the phyllo dough slowly and carefully.  You will probably need to trim each layer of dough slightly for it to fit in your pan.  I used scissors as the dough is so delicate that I didn’t want to risk shattering it with a knife.  Scissors worked great.

Place two sheets in the pan and butter thoroughly. Using a pastry brush is a good idea but since I didn’t have one, I used one of those silicone brushes that you use to apply marinade to steaks.  Add two more sheets and butter.  Continue doing this until you have about 8-10 sheets down.

When this is done, butter again but this time add about 1/4 cup of nuts to the layer making sure to sprinkle the nuts evenly over the layer.  Top the layer of nuts with two more sheets of phyllo followed by nuts.  Continue doing this until the nut mixture is gone.  Then continue with two layers of phyllo and buttering until there are about 8-10 layers of phyllo above the nut mixture.

Now cut the baklava into pieces.  I cut mine into squares because it was simpler.  Use a sharp knife so that your cut will be clean and you won’t shatter the dough.  Cut all the way through.  Once the Baklava is cooked, the dough will be VERY fragile so you don’t want to do any cutting at all once the baking process is complete.

Place in oven and bake for approximately 50 minutes until the Baklava has a nice golden color and the top phyllo looks crisp.

During the baking process, make the sauce.  The sauce takes about 25-30 minutes to make and should be poured over the Baklava as soon as it comes out of the oven so keep this is mind so that you can manage your time and have it ready.
In a saucepan, combine the granulated sugar and the water and bring to a boil.  Stir until the sugar has melted.  Add the honey and vanilla and allow to simmer for around 20 minutes to thicken the sauce.
Immediately spoon the sauce over the Baklava after it has finished baking making sure that the sauce is evenly distributed.  Allow to cool for a couple of hours as it takes a while to cool completely. It is great when served in cupcake papers.  Otherwise, you will most certainly get incredibly sticky.