My husband and I have a long-standing tradition of making baklava together for Christmas day. Baklava is a traditional Greek dessert made with phyllo dough, walnuts and a special syrup. It is best made well in advance of serving so the ingredients have time to soak into the phyllo dough. Mmmm.
Ingredients before assembly.
BAKLAVA INGREDIENTS FOR LAYERING
(printable version below)
1 (16 oz) pkg phyllo dough (use both packages in the box)
1 cup melted butter (2 sticks)
1 pound chopped walnuts (finely chopped in a food processor)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
INGREDIENTS FOR BAKLAVA SAUCE
1 cup water
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon real vanilla extract or 1/2 vanilla bean
½ cup honey
some orange peel and lemon peel
juice of ½ a lemon
1 cinnamon stick
DIRECTIONS FOR BAKLAVA SAUCE
In saucepan over medium heat, mix water and sugar until sugar is dissolved. Reduce heat and add vanilla, honey, citrus peels, lemon juice & cinnamon stick. Simmer gently for 20 minutes. Remove from heat to cool & remove citrus and cinnamon stick.
Preheat oven to 300°F.
Chop nuts in food processor and toss with cinnamon. Set aside.
Butter the bottom of a 9x13 inch pan.
(one with square edges is better than rounded like the glass pan we used)
Unroll phyllo dough, keep covered with a damp towel while working.
Reserve 6-8 sheets of phyllo dough for the top layer. Cover & set aside.
Layer 8 sheets of phyllo dough on the bottom, buttering each sheet with melted butter.
Sprinkle approximately 3 tablespoons of nut mixture on top.
Add two more sheets of phyllo, buttering each individually.
**Press each sheet down firmly before buttering.**
Add a layer of nuts as shown.
Add two more sheets of dough, pressing, buttering & nutting. ☺
Repeat until nuts are gone, then place the remaining 6-8 layers on top, buttering each.
Using a very sharp knife, cut according to diagram below.
Poke one clove into center of each triangle.
Bake for approximately 1 hour to 1.5 hours or until golden brown, remove from oven & immediately pour cooled sauce over the hot baklava.
Pay no attention to the cutting pattern in these photos- the diagram was not closely followed.