I Lov-a Latta Baklava

Baklava is one of those things that looks super complicated to make— but really, it isn’t! With a few key ingredients and a lot of patience, you too can make this delicious treat that harkens from the Ottoman Empire and is native to Central Asia.

Delicious baklava.
Delicious baklava.

Here is what you’ll need:

Phyllo dough costs about $4.99 a box, well worth the amount of baklava it can create.
Phyllo dough costs about $4.99 a box, well worth the amount of baklava it can create.

– 1 packet Phyllo dough: this can easily be found in or near the pasta sections of your grocer’s frozen aisle. I like to buy two packets of it since they freeze really well— I’ve used phyllo that was 6 months old, and it still tastes great.

– 3-4 cups of chopped nuts: pecan, pistachio and cashews make good choices

– 1 cup melted Earth Balance Butter, or just plain ol’ soybean/canola oil if you don’t have any

– 1 teaspoon cinnamon

– 1 cup of water

– 1 cup sugar

– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

– 1/2 cup of honey or agave

Step 1 – Oil it up

Brush generously with oil... too dry and it'll get burned easily.
Brush generously with oil… too dry and it’ll get burned easily.

Chop nuts and toss with cinnamon. Set aside.

Unroll phyllo dough. Place a baking pan-sized piece of tinfoil or parchment paper atop your working station. Put two sheets of dough on top of the foil, folding the excess dough over itself on the ends so it fits. Butter thoroughly. Repeat until you have 8 sheets layered, alternating the folded sections between each layer (folded from the top one layer, folded from bottom the next). This will be the bottom base of the baklava.

Step 2 – Nutty Sprinkle Sprinkle

The more nuts, the better (unlike your uncle Carl).
The more nuts, the better (unlike your uncle Carl).

Now sprinkle 2 – 3 tablespoons of nut mixture on top of your baklava base.

Top this with two sheets of dough, butter it up, and sprinkle more nuts, and add another 2-sheet layer . Repeat until you have only 8 phyllo sheets left in your pile. Save some nuts for the topping, if you want.

Step 3 – Top it off

The scent of cinnamon is known to curb hunger... though I don't know if it applies in this case.
The scent of cinnamon is known to curb hunger… though I don’t know if it applies in this case.

At this point, set your oven to 350 degrees.

Your top layer should be about 6 – 8 sheets deep, with butter/oil in between each 2 sheets. Generously brush the top layer of the phyllo with oil, this will make it nice and… well… buttery (and crunchy!).

You can now sprinkle your topping of choice onto your baklava. I chose to top it with some freshly ground cinnamon.

Cinnamon sticks are generally cheaper to buy at your local Middle Eastern grocer than already-ground cinnamon... plus it's a great stress reliever to pound it up :P
Cinnamon sticks are generally cheaper to buy at your local Middle Eastern grocer than already-ground cinnamon… plus it’s a great stress reliever to pound it up :P

Step 4 – Cut it up

I like to use a cleaver to cut it, since it's easiest to control and cuts deeply.
I like to use a cleaver to cut it, since it’s easiest to control and cuts deeply.

Using a sharp knife cut into diamond or square shapes all the way to the bottom of the pan.

You may cut into 4 long rows the make diagonal cuts. Cut the pieces as large or small as you like, depending on your serving preference… I like to make them smaller so I don’t eat as much in one sitting… though it usually doesn’t lessen the amount I eat anyway.

Step 5 – Bake and wait

Bake for about 50 minutes until baklava is golden and crisp. Depending on your oven strength it may bake a bit quicker, so make sure to keep an eye on it as it gets closer to 50 minutes.

Step 6 – Sugar pie honey bunch

Make sure your heat isn't on too high when you reduce, sugar burns easy.
Make sure your heat isn’t on too high when you reduce, sugar burns easy.

Make your honey/sugar sauce while baklava is baking. Boil the sugar and water until sugar is melted. Add vanilla and honey. Simmer/reduce on low heat for about 20 minutes to thicken it a bit.

Step 7 – Sizzly- sweet

The baklava makes an awesome sizzly-noise when you pour the sugar on, plus the smell is incredible!
The baklava makes an awesome sizzly-noise when you pour the sugar on, plus the smell is incredible!

Remove baklava from oven and immediately spoon sauce over it. Let cool… or as long as you can wait before your mouth waters. I never manage to keep my hands off it… but make sure to use a utensil, as it can burn your greedy fingers.

And Step 8 – ENJOY!

That’s all, folks!

Here's some complimen-terry baklava porn :D
Here’s some complimen-terry baklava porn :D

Storage notes: Baklava freezes well. Leave it uncovered as it gets soggy if it is wrapped up… I like to cover it with another baking pan because I’m lay like that.

 

 

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