Back in October we went to the Food and Wine Festival at Disney and had brunch with Carla Hall. One of the desserts she made for us was Baklava. This was the first time I had ever tried it and I loved it. Today we finally got a chance to make it. Recipe below.
2 1/2 cups walnut halves, finely chopped
2 cups slivered almonds, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups shelled pistachios, finely chopped
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon table salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, or extra-virgin olive oil
1 (1-pound) package (18 x 13 in sheets) fillo dough, thawed if frozen
Olive oil cooking spray
Spiced Citrus Simply Syrup, recipe follows
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. In a large bowl, combine walnuts, almonds, pistachios, sugar, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, and salt.
3. Time to assemble the baklava! You need to work quickly, so be sure to have everything in place: half sheet pan, melted butter and brush, olive oil cooking spray, fillo with a clean kitchen towel to cover it and prevent drying, bowl of nuts with a cup measure to scoop.
4. Brush a half sheet pan with half of the butter. Lay 1 fillo sheet in the pan, generously coat with the olive oil spray, and top with another sheet. Repeat to make a stack of 8 sheets. Now, cover the remaining fillo. Spread 2 cups nuts evenly over the fillo stack, lay a fillo sheet on top, spray, lay another sheet, and spray. Repeat with 2 cups nuts and 2 sheets sprayed fillo two times. Cover remaining fillo with the kitchen towel.
5. Fold in any overhanging edges of fillo over the nut filling. use an offset spatula to tightly tuck in the folded edges against the filling by placing the spatula’s edge where the ends of the sheets meet the edge of the pan and gently pressing the sheets towards the bottom of the pan. Repeat all around the perimeter of the pan. You need to encase the filling to prevent the soaking syrup from spilling out later. Coat the top with the oil spray and lay a fillo sheet on top. Repeat 7 times to make a topping with 8 sheets total. You don’t need to tuck these edges in. Brush the remaining 2 tablespoons butter on top, using small brushing motions to prevent fillo from crinkling.
6. Use a very sharp knife to cut the baklava into 8 strips crosswise, cutting almost all the way through to the pan. Use small sawing strokes to prevent the fillo from dragging with your knife and hold down the fillo around your cuts to keep it in place. Start by cutting the whole pan in half crosswise, then into quarters, then eights to form 8 short, even rows. Starting from 1 corner, cut diagonally to meet the opposite edge of the pan, ending at the intersection of a crosswise cut. Move to the corner of the next row and cut a line parallel to the first to meet the opposite edge of the pan. You will have formed a diagonal row of trapezoids with triangles at the ends.. Continue cutting from corners to edges until half of the pan has been cut. Rotate the pan 180 degrees and repeat the cutting from the other side until the whole pan has been cut.
7. Bake until golden brown, about 40 minutes.
8. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and immediately and slowly pour the syrup all over the baklava. be sure to get syrup into every row. Let sit for at least 3 hours, and then serve.
Spiced Citrus Simple Syrup
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup honey
Finely grated zest of 1 orange
1 strip lemon zest (removed with a vegetable peeler)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 cinnamon stick
1 cardamom pod
1. In a small saucepan, bring the sugar, water, honey, orange zest, lemon zest and juice, cinnamon stick, and cardamom pod to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Boil for 1 minute, and then remove from the heat. Cool to room temperature.
2. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve and discard the solids. The syrup can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
I know the recipe looks long, but actually this is very easy to make. It is very good and you definitely need to try it.