Sunday, February 21, 2010

A tribute to Vancouver 2010

In honor of the Olympic Winter Games starting last weekend, I decided to go out of my baking comfort zone and make one of my favorite desserts of all time! Who doesn't like Baklava? The flaky layers of phylo dough and the yummy nutty, syrupy sweetness of this Greek treat are sensational. I have always been terrified to make this because I thought it would be really hard. Boy, was I mistaken. . . it was so very simple! Simple is good. I like simple. Quick, it is not! The recipe I found said it took 30 minutes to prepare. It took me more like an hour and a half. Buttering layer after layer of phylo dough takes lots of time!
But, they came out so delicious, it was well worth it! Now, I will definitely make these again, but probably not for a very long time. I am thinking a really, really (and I mean, REALLY) good occasion (like the next Olympics?)
I got really good feedback from those that partook in this delicious treat. My husband's was the best. . . he said it was better than store bought. That made my day! I also talked to my sister, who mentioned that her boyfriend (who is Greek) doesn't like the store bought kind because it is too dry. Mine was VERY moist. . . so I am guessing it was more like authentic baklava.

  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/4 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 pounds chopped almonds
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 (16 ounce) package frozen phyllo pastry, thawed

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). In a saucepan over medium heat, combine 2 cups sugar, water, honey, cinnamon stick, lemon and vanilla. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 15 minutes, skimming any foam that is formed. Set side.
  2. In a small bowl, combine chopped almonds, 2 tablespoons sugar, ground cinnamon and cloves; set aside. Brush butter on bottom of a 9x13 inch pan. Each sheet of phyllo dough is twice as big as the pan, so cut each in half, making 2 sheets. Place a sheet of phyllo on bottom of pan, and brush with melted butter. Repeat process for a total of 8 sheets, buttering each. Sprinkle about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of nut mixture evenly over the phyllo, and cover with 4 more sheets, buttering each. Continue sprinkling nuts after every 4 sheets of phyllo, until all but 8 sheets (4 full sheets) are used.
  3. Use remaining 8 sheets for the top layer, buttering each sheet of phyllo. Before buttering the last sheet, tuck in any loose edges. Press down layers with palms of your hands. Pour remaining butter over the top. With a large knife, cut 5 strips lengthwise about 1/2 inch deep, then cut diagonally to form diamond shapes.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 50 to 60 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven, and immediately pour syrup over baklava. Allow to cool thoroughly. Cut diamonds to go all the way through, and serve.


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