My Best Baklava

Baklava

Baklava!  This is one of those recipes that I originally saw on a TV show, and adjusted to my particular taste so I can’t say that this is completely original, but really, baklava is only a few ingredients so how many recipes can possibly be original?

I’m picky about Baklava, I don’t really care for the traditional variety that is soaked in simple syrup or honey, so much so that it becomes an incredible sticky mess.  Just thinking about it makes my teeth ache.  And I don’t like the varieties you can buy at the store, they are just not light or fresh enough.  I like a little lighter variety and this recipe is it.  Moist, chewy, not too sweet with a great delicate crunch from the phyllo, it’s the best I’ve ever had.

Baklava can be made with different nuts and no fruits, or nuts and fruits combined.  This one is almond, walnut and apricot, which are all incredibly good for you, so one might say this is a good for you dessert (as long as you don’t eat too many)!  And it doesn’t have too much sweetener, but it does have a bit of butter, so a little goes a long way.  I’ve made this recipe dozens of times, it is perfect as a fancy or simple dessert or great to take to a potluck.   I’ve also taken it hiking as a gourmet trail treat, but the delicate phyllo doesn’t stand up to the backpack.

If you have never worked with Phyllo dough, it can be a bit tricky, well it can be a lot tricky but I love working with it and you will too, just as long as you have a delicate touch.  You can find Phyllo in the freezer section of major grocery stores, next to the frozen pie crusts.  Make sure you get the dough variety and not the pastry cups.

The trick to working with the Phyllo is to make sure it is properly thawed, then only when you are ready to use it unroll the sleeve slowly and cover the unrolled pastry with a dish towel.  Some people will tell you to cover with a damp dish towel, but I find that makes the dough stick together.  I prefer using a dry dish towel and working rather quickly to get the job done.  Have all your equipment ready to go and you can work through layering the dough with ease.

Special equipment needed:  a 24-capacity non-stick mini muffin pan, a pastry brush, food processor.

My Best Baklava (revised) by Debra Crawford
Makes 24 pieces

1 –       Sleeve Athens Phyllo Dough (thaw about 45 minutes on the counter) you should have enough left over dough for another half recipe, you can roll it up and refreeze it. Just roll in the original sleeve and then wrap in plastic.
3/4 –    Cup Raw Almonds
3/4 –    Cup Raw Walnuts
1/3 –    Cup Dried Apricots, (I’ll bet dried prunes, cherries or pears or dates would be fantastic also)
1 –       Slice Bread, Wheat, White, or Multi-Grain
1 1/2 – Sticks of butter (3/4 cup), melted
4 1/2 – Tablespoons Honey
2 1/4 – Teaspoons Saigon Cinnamon (my preference – it is so much more flavorful)
3 –       Tablespoons Sugar

Thaw your dough thoroughly in the packet and preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan and remove from heat.  Rough chop the apricots and put in the food processor, add the nuts, sugar, cinnamon and bread.  Process to a fine mince, then add 3 tablespoons of butter and the honey.  Pulse until well blended; set aside.

Remove the phyllo from the sleeve and gently unroll.  Lay flat on the wrapping paper and cover with a dish towel.  Line up your cutting board near the pile and get the melted butter and pastry brush ready.  Gently lift one piece of Phyllo and place on the cutting board, cover the rest.

Lightly brush butter on the Phyllo starting with the edges first, stroking away from the center and a little onto the board.  This will help hold the dough in place on your board.  Then lightly brush the center of the dough.  Layer another piece of dough on top and repeat the process until you have six layers in place.

Cut the dough into twelve equal parts.

Using a knife to lift the corner of each piece, lightly push them into the mini muffin tin.   This will give you your first 12 cups.  The filling should make exactly 24 lightly packed tablespoons, so using a one-tablespoon measuring spoon, put one lightly packed tablespoon into each cup.  Gently gather the edges to the middle and then lightly dab with a little more melted butter.

*It is important that you don’t try to do all twenty four at once, as the dough will dry out on the first 12, so just repeat the steps as outlined and you will be fine.

Repeat the layering of pastry and cup filling for the next 12 cups.  After all the cups are gathered and the melted butter has been brushed on each one, they are ready for the oven.  Bake at 350 for approximately 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Let cool slightly and then remove each baklava with a butter knife, they should be easy to pop out of the tin as long as they are still warm and the honey hasn’t stuck to the pan.

** Tip – do not let baklava cool completely as they will be harder to remove when the honey settles.  If they do stick because you have let them cool in your pan, try putting them back in the oven for a couple minutes to reliquify the honey.

Enjoy!

One Sheet of Phyllo see how thin?
Phyllo
Baklava Filling Proper Mince
Closing the Phyllo cups
Baklava Done!
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