Originally hailing from the great Ottoman Empire in the 15th-16th century, and entering into my own cultural history from a Greek Orthodox Bazaar in the early 21st century, baklava stands as my most often-made dessert. Known for its seemingly infinite layers of crisp pastry, nutty filling, and light honeyed sweetness, baklava has long been a holiday staple for our family. Plus, the finished product looks masterfully complex, but is secretly quite simple, making this dish perfect for wowing your guests this holiday season!
Ingredients for Pastry
- 1 (16 ounce) package of phyllo dough
- 1 pound chopped nuts (walnuts and pecans combine beautifully)
- 1/2 – 1 cup melted butter (depending on how much butter you use for each layer, this amount can be reduced drastically)
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Ingredients for Glaze
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup honey
- Preheat your oven to 350 F / 175 C, and butter a 9×13 inch pan.
- Mix the nuts and cinnamon in a small bowl until well combined and set aside.
- Unroll your phyllo dough and cut in half to fit to the size of the pan. Cover your extra phyllo dough with a damp cloth to keep it from drying out and cracking.
- Place 2 sheets of phyllo at the bottom of your pan and brush with butter. Repeat four times until you have 8 sheets at the bottom of your pan.
- Top the dough with 2-3 Tablespoons of nuts. Cover the nuts with two sheets of phyllo, brush with melted butter, and again top with nuts. Continue this pattern until you fill the pan.
- When you reach your final layer, top with another 8 sheets of phyllo and brush with butter.
- Use a sharp knife to cut the uncooked baklava into squares or diamonds. Bake in your preheated oven for 50 minutes or until the baklava is a deep golden color.
- While the baklava is baking, mix the sugar and water in a medium saucepan. Heat until boiling. Stir in the vanilla extract and honey and allow to simmer for 20 minutes.
- When the baklava has finished cooking, immediately cover with the sauce. Allow the pastry to completely cool before serving, and store uncovered to prevent the pastry from getting soggy.