Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Baklava

Well this is kind of an old story, but a while back I made some baklava.  See, my delightful neighbors took care of Milton for me while I was away one weekend, so I told them that I would make them treats as a thank you.  And then I'm pretty sure this happened next:

Delightful Neighbor: hmmm, what should I ask her to make? Oh, I know, I'll do some Googling.  The Googles know everything. 

Google!  What are some really difficult desserts to make? 
Google: Thank you for asking, delightful neighbor!  Have you considered baklava?
Delightful Neighbor: No, but that is a great idea.  Thanks Google, you're the best :) 


So I made baklava.  Here's the thing: it's not as scary as it seems.  Yes, phyllo dough is kind of a pain, and there are about a billion steps, but it's not really difficult.   Just time consuming and labor intensive.  Needless to say, this is not something I will be making on a regular basis.  However, as a special treat, it's totally worth the effort.



How to Make Baklava - The Kitchn

So, for once in my life, I actually followed all the directions as written.  I figured that for something as notoriously difficult, this was a good idea. 

8 ounces walnuts
8 ounces plus 1/4 cup shelled pistachios (I used salted and it was AMAZING.  It cut some of the sweetness)
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 sticks unsalted butter
1 package frozen phyllo sheets, thawed
For the syrup:
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup honey

Pre-heat the oven to 350.  While that's heating up, prepare the filling.  Just put the nuts, cinnamon, and sugar into the food processor and pulse a few times.  You don't want to make powder, so err on the side of caution. 





Melt the butter in a sauce pan over low heat.  Turn the heat off when it's almost melted and allow the remainder to melt off the direct heat. 

Now comes the labor intensive part.  Set up a work station with the unwrapped, covered phyllo dough (I used a very lightly damp kitchen towel), butter, filling, and pan.  You want to be able to move quickly, so set it up however makes the most sense to you. 

Now, all you have to do is spread a little butter on the bottom of the pan and layer the phyllo. Alternate butter/phyllo for 7 layers.  It's EXTREMELY helpful to have a pastry brush here.  

Now, sprinkle half the nuts on the phyllo.  Then just repeat with seven more layers of the dough and the rest of the nuts. 

Top with seven more layers of dough.  If for some reason you're adverse to the number seven, I'm not here to judge, just switch to a number that makes you more comfortable. 

Before you put it in the oven, pre-cut it.  It's very flaky and sticky when it comes out of the oven, so you want to make sure it's pre-cut before you put it in there.  That way it won't tear as much when you take it out.



Bake at 350 for about 45 minutes, rotating the pan half way through, so that it browns evenly. 

While it's cooling, make the syrup.  Now, as you may know, I'm not a huge sweets person (my office thinks this is great, they get all kinds of treats because I have a baking addiction and no sweet tooth), so next time I think I'd use less syrup.  However, this was still freaking amazing, so I might not.  

To make the syrup, put the honey, water, and sugar into a sauce pan and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, allow to boil for 10 minutes.  During this time, run your knife through the baklava again, just to make sure it's well cut.  

Pour the syrup over the baklava; make sure you get syrup on all the pieces, it's KEY.  Serve and watch people pass out from the excitement.  Or go into a sugar coma.  Either way.  

What's the most complicated thing you've ever made? 

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