The other day Big Pete asked me to make my Baklava for him. He is normally a chocolate cake or cookie man but, the Greek side of him was craving this Baklava. I have had other people beg me for this baklava. It's got a wonderful sweet orange flavour which complements the pistachio and almond flavour. This is a show stopper people will be shocked at how good it is and that you actually made it from scratch.
Try it once and I promise you will make it again.
You will need:
- 1 box phyllo dough -contains 24 sheets - thawed
- 1 lb/454 grams unsalted shelled pistachios or raw almonds or BOTH
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
- 1 stick (=1/2 cup) unsalted butter-melted with 1/4 cup olive oil added to it.
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1/2 tsp orange extract (optional)
- 1 tsp orange zest
- 1/3 cup water
- 1/3 cup orange juiced (fresh)
- *glass Pyrex dish wide enough to fit a sheet of phyllo width 3 qt size or a 9 x13 inch baking pan.
Step 1: weigh your nuts. You can use almonds or pistachios or both. I have used equal amounts of both.
Step 2: add your nuts, sugar, cinnamon and cardamon to the food processor. Pulse 10 seconds or until you get mix with some pieces no larger than small peas.
Step 3: melt 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter and add 1/4 cup olive oil to top off. I do this in a glass measuring cup in the microwave for 30 seconds. I like to add a bit of olive oil instead of just using all of it butter. You may not use all of the butter when brushing sheets.
Step 4: I use a Pyrex dish rather than a metal dish because I find it easier to cut the squares in the pan. I never worry about the pan with glass. I wish my pan had straight edges rather than curved but, I would still rather use the glass for ease of cutting. I brush a bit of butter on the bottom and sides of the pan. I like this pan because it is the size of one sheets of phyllo folded in half.
Step 5: I divide the total number of sheets in the package in 3 piles for each layer. My box of phyllo has 24 sheets so I use 8 sheets per layer. I put down half a sheet and brush a layer of butter on the phyllo (do not soak the sheet) then I fold over the balance of the first sheet and brush that with butter. I keep doing half a sheet at a time buttering each half until I use 8 sheets. I also alternate which side the fold goes on so that it is even. The folds on both sides make the baklava balanced.
Step 6: add half the nut, sugar mixture. Spread evenly.
Step 7: add 8 more sheets with butter between each half like you did in Step 5.
Step 8: add balance of nut, sugar mixture (reserve 2 tbsp to sprinkle on top)
Step 9: add final 8 sheets with butter between each half as you did in Step 5. Once you are finished you will have 3 layers of phyllo and 2 layers of nuts.
Step 10: put pan in freezer for 30 minutes to make it easier to cut before baking.
Step 11: with a sharp knife and trying not to press on the phyllo too much slice diamonds. This will make nice clean cuts since you cannot cut the phyllo once it's baked and cutting it will also allow the syrup to go down to the bottom once its baked.
Step 12: bake at 350 degrees F for 35 - 45 minutes. Mine bakes at exactly 35 minutes.
Step 13: just before the baklava finishes baking make the orange honey syrup which will be poured on the baklava immediately once it comes out of the oven. I zest the orange and squeeze the juice. I top off the juice with water to make the 2/3 cup. Add juice, zest , sugar, and honey to pan and boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and add orange extract if you have it (it's not critical if you don't have it)
Step 14: once the baklava is nicely browned remove from oven and carefully and slowly pour the syrup so that each slice is covered. You may think there is too much liquid but it will all get absorbed into the hot baklava. When you are pouring it over the hot baklava it will sizzle and bubble. Let cool. You will then need to carefully re-cut all slices to remove diamonds from pan.
This is a sticky gorgeous, decadent dessert. People will be shocked at how good it is and that you made it from scratch!! I am not kidding you. Try it once!!