Yes folks, today I made baklava. Baklava, for those who have never heard of it, is a delicious Greek dessert. It has flaky thin layers of dough, pecans and walnuts that spill out from the center, and honey. Lots and lots of honey. Actually, it’s mind-boggling (the dessert itself, not the amount of honey). When you look at it you have to wonder how the thing was made (or maybe it’s just me?). I mean, if it flakes apart when you touch it, how in the world did the cook make it?! Well, pretty easily actually.
There are four base ingredients: phyllo dough (super thin dough, found with the frozen desserts), nuts (I use pecans and walnuts), cinnamon, and butter. And you layer the ingredients. Just as I said: Easy peasy!
This is what it will look like with the ingredients layered.
Nothing special, right? Not yet. The next step is to cut the baklava. You can make the pieces as small or large as you like. But remember, if you cut big pieces, you only need to eat one before you feel satisfied. And doesn’t it sound better to say virtuously, “I only had one piece of baklava” instead of “Yeah, I had five pieces of baklava,” even if it is the same amount?
Now you toss it in the oven and move on to the really important stuff, the honey sauce! And actually, there’s not a whole lot of honey in there. Just half a cup.
Haha. “Honey, I’m home!” Get it? Because there’s honey! I crack myself up.
The honey simmers while the baklava cooks. The scent fills the house while you walk around telling people what a great chef you are because you’re making baklava and doesn’t it smell divine? And if you have brothers like mine, they respond, “Ew, smells gross! Hey, have you ever been punched in the face?!” And then you can say “Have YOU ever been punched in the face? And no baklava for you!” And then groveling commences. Sometimes. Depending on how good the house smells. I tell you, it’s a compliment of the highest order when these guys tell you dinner or dessert was delicious. Given the sarcastic household I live in, if they can be moved to saying they enjoyed the meal, you know you’re on to something!
But back to the magic. And it is magic when these two components merge. Glorious, fragrant, delectable magic. Check it out:
I assure you, it’s more attractive in person. And it has a great personality.
This is what I imagine the “land of milk and honey” would look like, if you can imagine this as land stretching into the distance. Squint your eyes, maybe that will help.
I ate this directly after taking the picture. You should be jealous.
Easy, delicious, and impressive. You can get this in a restaurant, where they charge $2 for a piece this size (ok, maybe a little bigger, but not much), or you can make it at home and have major bragging rights, plus several servings of yummy goodness. And because this is chock full of nuts and honey, I like to claim it’s good for you.
This recipe comes from Allrecipes.com
1 (16 oz) package phyllo dough
1 lb chopped nuts
1 cup melted butter
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup water
1 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup honey
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter the bottoms and sides of a 9×13 inch pan.
2. Chop nuts and toss with cinnamon. Set aside. Unroll phyllo dough. Cut whole stack in half to fit in pan (I don’t do that, but you might have to. It’s quite possible that I’m not using a 9×13 pan. Who knows.) Cover phyllo dough with a dampened cloth to keep from drying out as you work.
3. Place two sheets of dough in pan, butter thoroughly (I find it’s easiest to wear surgical gloves and just do everything with your hands. Get in there and get all buttery!). Repeat until you have 8 sheets layered.
4. Sprinkle 2-3 tablespoons of nut mixture on top. Top with two sheets of dough, butter, nuts, then two more sheets of dough, butter, nuts, etc. Two layers or dough should be between each layer of butter and nuts, until you get to the top. The top layer should be about 6-8 sheets deep.
5. Using a sharp knife, cut the baklava into diamonds or squares, all the way to the bottom of the pan.
6. Bake for 50 minutes.
7. Make sauce while baklava is baking: Boil sugar and water until sugar is melted. Add vanilla and honey. Simmer for about 20 minutes. When done, turn stove off and let sauce sit until baklava is finished.
8. Remove baklava from oven and immediately spoon sauce over it. Let cool. Or not.
Apparently this freezes well, but I’ve never actually had opportunity to test it.