Wednesday, December 14, 2011

How To Make Baklava Again

It’s been almost exactly 2 years since I posted the original How To Make Baklava.  (You should check it out, it’s got a picture of the original recipe from 1980 something!)  It’s time for a refresher course.  I only make this about once a year, so I’m going to post it again.  Yes, my blog posting is going to be a little food heavy lately.  Yum!

Who likes this nutty, sweet, sticky, buttery, flaky and totally yummy treat?  My hand is raised, how about yours?

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Whenever I make Baklava everyone’s jaws drop and they wonder how it can be homemade.  It’s your turn to make jaws drop.  You can do it, yes you can.  I’ll cheer you on, I know you can make this.  It’s easy, but time consuming.  You’ll need a good hour to assemble this decadent treat.  So if you have little babies at home….get your mom or mom-in-law to make this for you.  Or your dad if he cooks.  Or your husband if he cooks.  (Not mine….love ya hon!  He’s the best taste tester though!)  With one child in school and the other one napping….I had myself a good hour to assemble this. 

What you’ll need:

4 cups walnuts
½ cup sugar
1-2 tsp ground cinnamon (I use 2!)
1 pound or box of fillo (phyllo) dough
1 cup butter or margarine (2 sticks), melted
12 ounces of honey or 1-½ cups

What you’ll need to do:

1)  Roast the walnuts. Put them on a cookie sheet or pan with sides, bake at 300 for 15 minutes. Cool, and then chop in food processor or blender in small batches.  You could also chop with a knife if you don’t have something to chop them in.  You could even roast the walnuts a day or two before you use them.

2)  In a large bowl with spoon, mix chopped walnuts, sugar, and cinnamon until blended.  It’s best to turn on some good music and dance a little while making this.  Close the curtains if you have nosy neighbors.  Be sure to take them some baklava when you’re done.

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3) Line a 9x13 inch-baking dish with foil, leaving excess over the sides to use as a handle. Grease the baking dish/foil. Preheat oven to 300F.

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4)  Open phyllo dough. Keep dough under a moist, clean kitchen towel to prevent drying as you work with it.  Phyllo is pretty forgiving, especially when you coat it in butter.  So if it rips, breaks, or does something naughty….piece it back together with the butter.  Butter can heal a multitude of things….with desserts that is.  Wish I could same the same thing for me.

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5) Place one sheet of phyllo in baking dish, brush with some butter. Don’t be stingy on the butter, but don’t use too much. Cover the entire piece of phyllo.  Wait….can you use too much butter?

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6) Repeat with 5 more layers of phyllo. Cover each layer with butter. You’ll have 6 layers when you’re done.  If you’re tired of coating each piece of phyllo with butter, I suppose you could do every other layer.  I’ve never tried it, let me know if you do.

7) Sprinkle with ¼ of the walnut mixture. That should be one cup of the mixture.  Math….it’s a good thing.

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8) Repeat steps 5, 6, and 7. The first phyllo layer on top of the walnut mixture is a little more difficult. Use buttered fingers to help hold the phyllo down while you brush it with butter.  I like to butter the edges first and then do the middle.  Repeat layers until you get to the last of the walnut mixture on top of your phyllo.  That should be your fourth application of the walnut mixture.

9) You should now have your last walnut mixture down. Hooray. You should also have quite a few layers of phyllo left and a little butter.  If you happen to have run out of butter by this point, go ahead and melt some more.  It’s okay.  I’ve done it before. Place all of the remaining phyllo on top of last walnut layer; brush just the top piece with butter. Yes, just the top.  Whew!

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10)  With a sharp knife, cut just halfway through layers in a triangle pattern to make 48 servings/triangles. This is the most frustrating part for me. I’ve discovered you need to use well buttered fingers and butter the knife tip at times to keep the phyllo from sticking, pulling up, and wrinkling. If it does pull up, it doesn’t matter.  Just push it back into place with your buttered fingertips. You’ll still eat it.

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11) Bake in 300 degree oven for 1 hour and 25 minutes or until top is golden brown and crispy.

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12) Just before baklava comes out of the oven or right after, heat honey in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until hot, but not boiling.  Spoon hot honey over baklava. Cool in pan on wire rack at least 1 hour, then cover and leave at room temp until serving.

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13)  Use the foil handles to remove the baklava from the baking pan.  Put on a cutting board.  Finish cutting through the baklava with a sharp knife before serving.  Enjoy with coffee, tea, milk, chocolate, and a bunch of other goodies.  Wrap up pretty for the neighbors and take them a treat.  Take it to work and impress your co-workers.  Yum!

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Other stuff:  You can leave this out at room temp for a few days.  I  also put mine in the refrigerator after a day, it keeps well. You can even freeze it.  Just wrap it up well and put in the freezer and thaw in the refrigerator before you want to use it.

Let me know if you try this, I’d love to hear how it turned out for you.  Do you have a favorite baklava recipe or a place you get it from?  Any other favorite holiday treats?

Enjoy your day!  We’re having another snow day today!  It’s our third one this year.  The kids in town have to go to school, but the kids in the mountains have a snow day.  Since our school district doesn’t build in snow days, the kiddos get the joy of making them up at the end of the year.  Here’s hoping we get to play in the snow!

Psst…Bonus points if you noticed the little blue guy supervising the baking (he helped with the roasted applesauce too).  And more bonus points if you noticed the bowl of roasted applesauce from this post that some child is eating for a snack.  And a million bonus points and a pat on the back if you attempt baklava!

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