Wednesday, April 6, 2011

baklava part deux.

in case you weren’t overwhelmingly inspired to try your hand at the baklava recipe i posted here a few months ago, below are some pictures of my most recent batch.
if you would be so kind and let me toot my own horn for just one fraction of a mili-second, this batch could put all other baklava batches to shame.  granted, baking is generally a trial and error sort of venture (check out the documentary, kings of pastry, and you will see what i mean!). still, i’ll credit this remarkable improvement in taste and texture to a few small but important changes to the original recipe. please:
  • let the phyllo dough thoroughly thaw – at least 3 hours –  before you begin working with it (really, never a bad idea…).
  • add in an additional half cup of nuts, teaspoon of cinnamon, and 1/4 cup of sugar.
  • reheat the honey syrup before you pour it over the baked dough and nuts.
what the hey! for your ultra-convenience, check out the new and improved recipe in full form below…
a healthier and honey-er baklava:
for the syrup:
1 1/2 cups sonoran honey
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
3 whole cloves
1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick
for the filling:
1 cup unsalted pistachios, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup blanched unsalted almonds, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup sugar
1 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/8 teaspoon salt
other things you need:
cooking spray
24 (14 x 9-inch) sheets frozen phyllo dough, thawed to the max
1 tablespoon water
and we’re off!:
start by preparing the syrup. combine the honey, 1/2 cup water, juice, cloves, and cinnamon in a medium saucepan over low heat. stir until honey is completely dissolved. this should take between 2 and 3 minutes. turn up the heat to medium and then cook, without stirring for 10 minutes. remove from heat and cover with a lid to keep warm. remove solids and discard. using a slotted spoon if you have one works well for this.preheat oven to 350°.
make the filling by combining pistachios and next 6 ingredients (up until salt). set aside.
now it’s time to assemble. lightly coat a 13 x 9-inch baking dish with cooking spray. working with 1 phyllo sheet at a time (cover remaining dough to prevent drying), place 1 phyllo sheet lengthwise in bottom of prepared pan, allowing end of sheet to extend over edges of dish (see picture above). lightly coat with cooking spray.
repeat this procedure with 5 phyllo sheets and cooking spray for a total of 6 layers. sprinkle phyllo evenly with one-third of nut mixture. repeat procedure with phyllo, cooking spray, and nut mixture 2 more times.
top your last layer of nut mixture with remaining 6 sheets phyllo, each one lightly coated with cooking spray. lightly coat top phyllo sheet with cooking spray; press baklava gently into pan. sprinkle baklava surface with 1 tablespoon water.
make 3 even lengthwise cuts and 7 even crosswise cuts to form 32 portions using a sharp knife. bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until the phyllo is golden brown. remove from oven. rewarm your honey briefly, and then pour mixture evenly over baklava. cool in pan on a wire rack. eat! and then store covered at room temperature.