Sunday, August 10, 2014

Baklava! Opa!

When we moved into our new house a year ago, we had no idea the blessing that we were being given.   You never know what you'll get when it comes to neighbors, and we really lucked out by having two neighbors that are really super.  We have started having dinners together periodically, so we can have the chance to chat more than the wave from the driveway, the "hey, can I borrow X" text, etc.  It's awesome.  We are so lucky!  So when our neighbor decided to have Greek food for our dinner recently, I decided to bring Baklava to share!  I also brought homemade pistachio ice cream, which will be described in another post!

This was my first endeavor into Baklava, and though I had some phyllo-fear going into the experience, it was not that bad at all!  Yes, you have to take some precautions when it comes to phyllo, and you have to be super gentle, but it wasn't so bad!

I found the recipe on, and of the over 1800 reviews, 1600 love it, so I figured that was a good sign.  Crazy, right?  I read SOME of those reviews (a very small percentage, considering) and took a couple of suggestions that were made.

adapted from Allrecipes

1 16oz. box phyllo dough, containing 2 packages/rolls of dough
1 pound chopped nuts (I used pistachios)
1 cup butter
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cup water
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
zest of 1 lemon or 1 orange
3/4 cup honey

Preheat the oven to 325F.  Butter a 9x13 inch pan and set it aside.

Make the sauce:   Boil the water and sugar until the sugar melts.  Add the vanilla, zest and honey, and simmer for about 20 minutes.  Allow to cool and then set it in the refrigerator while the baklava bakes.

Chop the nuts and toss with cinnamon.  Set this aside.  Melt the butter in a separate bowl and set this aside as well, with a pastry brush nearby.  You are creating an assembly line for when you start! If your box of phyllo dough came did not come with two rolls, unroll the one roll and cut it in half so the sheets will fit in your pan.  Cover the phyllo with plastic wrap and a damp towel to prevent the dough from drying out as you work.  (The towel keeps it moist, the plastic keeps it from sticking to the towel!) 

Place two sheets of phyllo in the dish, and brush with melted butter.  Repeat this until there are 8 pieces of phyllo in the dish.  Sprinkle 2-3 tablespoons of the nut mixture on top of the butter.  Top with 2 sheets of dough, butter, nuts, and repeat this process until you are about out of nuts.  You want to have 6-8 sheets of dough left for the top, which you will butter between every two sheets, just like the bottom.  Butter the very top sheet of phyllo. 

Using a sharp knife, cut the uncooked baklava into diamond or square shapes, STOPPING about 1/2 inch from the bottom of the pan in each slice.  This helps so the bottom doesn't get as soggy.  Bake for about 50 minutes or until the top is golden and crispy.

Remove the baklava from the oven and immediately spoon the COOL sauce over the top.  Let it cool completely, then cut the slices through the rest of the way.  Serve in cupcake wrappers. 

You can freeze leftovers.  Or put it in your refrigerator uncovered (again, to prevent sogginess). 
Printable Recipe

This tasted just like the baklava we get at a local Greek restaurant!  Delish.  Don't fear the phyllo!  It really isn't so bad, especially since you can get it in the boxes with two rolls so you don't even have to cut it! 

My neighbors know I'll always show up with dessert.  It works out for all of us!  I get to try out  new recipes and they get to enjoy a great (hopefully!) dessert.  Win - win! 

Thank goodness for great neighbors.  What would we do without them??

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