Monday, January 11, 2010

Baklava

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Source: A Mingling of Tastes


Baklava

This recipe makes a small batch of this sweet, nut-filled phyllo pastry. If you would like to use a 9 x 13 pan, double the recipe and do not cut the raw phyllo dough in half. You will need a pastry brush to butter the delicate phyllo sheets.

For filling:
8 oz. raw, whole almonds
8 oz. raw walnut halves
3 Tbs. sugar
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. cardamom
1/8 tsp. cloves
6 Tbs. unsalted butter, cut into chunks
8 oz. phyllo dough (such as Athens brand), at room temperature

For syrup:
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup honey
2-inch strip orange peel
1-inch strip lemon peel
1/2 cinnamon stick
2 tsp. lemon juice

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spread almonds on a baking sheet and roast until nuts are lightly browned in the center, tossing once, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a food processor and pulse until chopped. Be careful to avoid grinding nuts to a paste. Transfer to a large bowl.

Spread walnuts on the same baking sheet you used for the almonds and roast until lightly browned, turning once, 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to food processor and chop. Add to bowl with almonds. Stir in sugar, cinnamon, salt, cardamom and cloves. Raise oven temperature to 350 degrees.

Add butter to a small bowl and melt in the microwave. Unroll the phyllo and place on a cutting board. Cut crosswise through the rectangular phyllo to form two smaller rectangles; cover with a slightly damp kitchen towel. Phyllo dough dries out quick when exposed to air. With a pastry brush, butter the bottom and sides of an 8 x 8 or 9 x 9 inch square baking dish.

Lift towel and add one piece of phyllo to dish; replace towel (keep the phyllo covered in this manner as you work). Lightly coat phyllo sheet with butter. Top with another piece of phyllo, turning it 90 degrees so the sheets are overlapping; coat with butter. Repeat until you’ve layered 8 sheets of phyllo, coating each one with butter. Top with one-third of the nut mixture. Cover with 8 more sheets of phyllo and one-third of the nuts. Repeat with 8 more sheets of phyllo and the remaining nuts. Finish with 8 more sheets of phyllo (you’ll have some left over). It goes like this:

1) 8 sheets phyllo
2) nuts
3) 8 sheets phyllo
4) nuts
5) 8 sheets phyllo
6) nuts
7) 8 sheets phyllo

With a sharp serrated knife, cut into 12 pieces. Be sure to cut all the way through to the bottom of the dish. Once baked, phyllo will shatter when cut. Bake 30 minutes or until phyllo is golden brown.

When baklava is nearly done baking, make the syrup: combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Cook over low heat, stirring often, until thickened slightly, 7 minutes. Remove peels and cinnamon stick.

When baklava is finished, cool on a rack 5 minutes. Pour syrup over baklava, allowing it to run between the cut pieces. Cool completely, several hours. May be made up to one day ahead. Baklava keeps 7 days at room temperature, covered with plastic wrap.