Thanks to Monday's Turkish food article, we've been fighting a craving for Baklava all week.
It's hard to resist that lightly sweet, flaky crust as it crumbles in your mouth with the first bite into honey-soaked layers of pastry and ground nuts. That first bite is so mouthwatering, it's like a quick rush to the head of light, deliciously flaky delight.
Though making Baklava at home does take a bit of patience, especially when ensuring that layers of phyllo are completely covered to prevent them from drying out while creating your dessert, the actual process is relatively simple and the end results are a real treat. Plus, you'll impress anyone you serve it to with your ability to make such a time-consuming dessert taste so good!
Baklava photo via Shutterstock
Read on for our tested recipe and helpful instructions for this great dish, and be sure to let us know your favorite Baklava tips and variations in the comments!
For the filling:
1 lb. unsalted shelled pistachios
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cardamom
1-1/4 cups unsalted butter
For the syrup:
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
Thaw the phyllo overnight in the refrigerator. Put the phyllo box on the counter to come to room temperature, 1-1/2 to 2 hours.
Make the filling:
Put the pistachios, sugar, cinnamon and cardamom in a food processor. Process until the nuts are finely chopped, 15 to 20 seconds. Set aside.
Assemble the baklava:
Unfold one pack of the phyllo sheets and stack them so they lie flat on your work surface. Cover the top with plastic wrap, letting some excess plastic fall over all four edges. Dampen and wring out a kitchen towel and drape it on top of the plastic wrap. This will hold the plastic in place and prevent the phyllo from drying out.
Melt the butter. Brush the bottom of a 9x13-inch metal pan (preferably with straight sides and a light-color interior to prevent over-browning on the edges) with some of the butter. Remove a sheet of phyllo from the stack, re-cover the rest, and put the sheet in the bottom of the pan.
Brush the sheet with some of the melted butter but don’t soak the phyllo. Repeat until you have layered and buttered about half the sheets from the first pack—about 10 sheets in all.
Sprinkle about one-third of the filling evenly over the phyllo.
Repeat layering and buttering the remaining sheets from the first pack and sprinkle on another third of the filling. Open, unfold and cover the second pack of phyllo. Layer and butter it as described above, sprinkling the remaining filling after layering about half the phyllo and ending with a final layer of phyllo (you may not need all of the butter). Cover loosely and put the pan of baklava in the freezer for 30 minutes.
Bake the baklava:
Position an oven rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Before baking, use a thin, sharp knife to cut the baklava on the diagonal in a diamond pattern. Try not to compress the pastry by pressing down on it with one hand while cutting with the other. Be sure to cut the pastry all the way to the bottom of the pan.
Bake the baklava until golden, 40 to 45 minutes. Transfer to a rack and let cool completely.
Make the syrup:
Put the sugar and 2/3 cup water in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Cook until the sugar is dissolved and the liquid is clear, about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.
Pour the syrup evenly over the entire surface of the baklava, allowing it to run down into the cut marks and along the sides of the pan. Allow the baklava to cool to room temperature before serving.