Baklava is a rich, sweet pastry featured in many cuisines of turkish, persian and arab countries. It is a pastry made of layers of phyllo dough filled with chopped nuts and sweetened with syrup or honey. Many other Middle Eastern nations have pastries which are very similar, thanks to a long running tradition of sweet desserts which feature flaky, delicate pastry. While baklava was originally considered a food for the wealthy, today it can be found in many pastry shops and Greek specialty stores all over the world. The first time ever that I had Baklava was in a quaint Mediterranean restaurant in Phoenix, Arizona. I bit in to the delicacy and found my mouth bursting with the flakiness of the phyllo dough, the crunchiness from the nuts, all coming together with the sweetness of the honey dripping from it. I was awed completely by the experience. The next time around that I remember was in the summer of 2008, at The Chateau on the Lake, resort spa in Branson, Missouri. This amazing resort has a lovely patio overlooking the scenic Table Rock Lake and we had this delectable pastry right there and suddenly it was so beautiful all around me…
My inspiration of the twist on the baklava, is from the way we make “Modhakas” and steam them…and of course from Giada…Here they are for you to try and taste…
Walnuts – 1/4 cup.
Almonds – 1/4 cup.
Raisins – 1/4 cup.
Coconut – 1/8 cup.
Sugar – 2 Tbsp.
Cinnamon – Powdered a pinch.(Optional
Melted Butter- 1/2 a stick.
Vanilla Essence – 1 tsp.
Phyllo Dough – 6 sheets.
- Preheat the oven to 350F.
- Place the walnuts, almonds, raisins, coconut, sugar and cinnamon in a mixer and pulse well so it grinds well. Transfer to a bowl and add 2 tbsp of melted butter and honey and stir it to combine in to a homogeneous mixture.
- Take the phyllo dough very carefully as they are extremely thin.Use a dry working surface and spread out one sheet of the dough. Slowly brush this sheet with butter and place the second sheet on the face of the first and lightly press it so they stick together. Repeat with brushing the melted butter on the second phyllo dough and slowly place the third sheet on the second. Care should be taken while working with phyllo dough as they tear very easily. Continue until all the 6 sheets are pressed and stacked firmly on one another.
- Now slowly slice this stack of sheets with knife or scissors in to 12 pieces.
- You could make little balls from the filling so it makes the process much more simpler.
- Use the smaller pieces of phyllo, fill it with the nut-honey ball and close it as you would do a little dumpling and twist it, and place it in the muffin compartment.
- Use the melted butter to seal the edges if you are having difficulty closing the pastry.
- Continue and complete all the 12 pieces and place them on a muffin pan.
- Bake for 15-20 mins or until all the baklavas are golden colour.
- Cool and serve dripping with honey.
(Optionally, the honey-nut mixture could be flavoured with orange zest and orange essence instead of vanilla and cinnamon for a warm citrus twist and served with Orange Blossom Honey).