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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Baklava a la Nadja Notariani

This dessert is to die for, and I had no idea it was so easy to make. Guess what some of my neighbors are getting for Christmas?

Today begins two weeks of recipes, crafts and traditions that you can do for your very own.

We start out with a decadent sweet treat that will make everyone think you slaved for hours.

Please welcome, Nadja Notariani.

Levant Baklava

Baklava is a Middle Eastern treat enjoyed throughout the year, but especially at Christmas.  The word 'baklava', comes from a Farsi word that means 'many leaves' and describes wonderfully the light, flaky layers of phyllo that make this dessert so delicious! 

There are so many variations of this dessert, with many recipes passed down through the generations and guarded closely!  My family uses a walnut filling, however, Iranian baklava has a pistachio or pistachio-almond filling.  I've even come across a Hungarian filling that uses apricot! 

Many people express surprise when they discover how simple the recipe for baklava is - having believed it to be involved and/or difficult.  I hope you enjoy this sweet and syrupy treat as much as my family does.  Merry Christmas!

*  2 cups sugar
*  1 cup honey
*  2 tablespoons lemon juice
*  2 tablespoons light corn syrup (optional)
*  2 teaspoons cinnamon
*  1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

*  1 pound walnuts finely chopped (appx. 4 cups) *tip* ~ your handy-dandy food processor is perfect for this job! ;}
*  1/4 cup sugar
*  2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
*  1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

*  1 pound of phyllo dough (appx 24 sheets)
*  2 sticks melted butter (1 cup)

*  Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a 13 x 9 baker with non-stick cooking spray - or coat a sided stone pan with olive oil.

1.  Make syrup.  Stir sugar, honey, water, lemon juice, corn syrup, cinnamon, and cardamom until sugars are dissolved.  Turn to medium heat and cook until slightly syrupy (I think about 5-10 minutes).  Set aside.

2.  Combine filling ingredients.  Set aside.

3.  Lay a sheet of phyllo in your pan and brush with the melted butter - layering until you get about 5-10 sheets stacked up.  Spread with half of the filling.  Repeat the layering process with 5-10 more sheets of phyllo and butter.  Add remaining filling.  Then top with 5-10 final sheets of phyllo, brushing each sheet with the butter as you go.  Tuck your edges if they look 'sloppy'. :)

4.  Cut strips through the top layers and then cut on diagonal to mark out your diamond pattern on the top.  Then sprinkle the top with water.

5.  Bake for 20 minutes.  Turn oven temperature down to 320 degrees and bake an additional 10-20 minutes, or until golden brown.

6.  Cut through your scored lines and then drizzle (very slowly) the cooled syrup over the baklava while it is still hot.  Let it cool completely. 

Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy...


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*Has anyone tried making baklava before?


Nadja Notariani said...

Thanks for having me and my baklava recipe at your blog today! I'd love to hear back after you make the recipe - your neighbors are going to love it!
Happy Christmas - even if it is early!

Cathy in AK said...

Oh, man, this is perhaps my favorite of favorite desserts! I can't wait to give it a try : )

Thanks for sharing, Nadja. Merry Christmas!

Tracy Jo said...

Oh! Sounds delicious. I love trying something new and different too. Thank you, Maria and Nadja!!

Cate Masters said...

Oo, I love baklava. Thanks for the recipe!

Rosie Lane said...

I love baklava, but I am recoiling in horror at the amount of fat and sugar. I always knew it was there, but I need my fats and sugars invisible for plausible deniability.

Barbara Ann Wright said...

I've never tried making it, but I'm not the biggest fan when I've tried it. I'm more of a cookie person. ^_^

Kaye Manro said...

I truly love Baklava! But I don't think I'm brave enough to make it myself. I am saving this recipe and passing it along to my sister, who enjoys cooking and will love this!

Thanks for sharing it.

Anonymous said...

This is one of my all time favorites. I used to get it from a small family owned Greek restaurant but they closed in the last sad. I've never had much luck with phyllo dough but may just have to give it another try.

Thanks for the recipe Nadja!

Thanks for hosting this DIY Christmas Maria!

LD Masterson said...

That thud you just heard was me falling off the diet wagon. But this just looks too good to pass up.

Clarissa Draper said...

It looks wonderful and yet easy to make. I love that dessert.

julie fedderson said...

I have made Baklava before, and like you, was floored that it wasn't nearly as difficult as it looks. I like drizzling a little bittersweet chocolate on the pieces when it's finished. My newest trick is using those nifty little silicone brushes--they don't pull on the dough and tear it as easily as the hair ones do. I will have to try out this recipe--love the idea of lemon and cardamom in it.

Kaz Augustin said...

I can't get phyllo/filo where I am! (Which is ridiculous when you think about it...Arab traders...Muslims....) So many recipes I have to give up on. Waaaah!

Maria Zannini said...

Nadja: So glad you joined us. :)

Cathy: It's always been the "special" treat, only consumed for holidays and big raises.

Tracy Jo: It's such a festive dessert and looks so pretty on a plate too.

Cate: It's a favorite here. Can't wait to make it for hubby.

Rosie: Shh...we don't say the "f" word. LOL. It's only for special occasions anyway.

Barbara: I love pastry, but have always been too chicken.

Kaye: If I try it, you'll have to try it. How hard can it be.

Raelyn: That's how I discovered baklava too, at a Greek restaurant.

Linda: I won't tell on you if you don't tell on me.

Clarissa: I was surprised how simple the instructions were.

Julie: I'm going to have to look for those brushes. I'd never heard of them before.

Kaz: Wish I could ship you some phyllo but I've only ever seen it refrigerated.

Angela Brown said...

I didn't know a person could drool late at night even though they have a full belly.

This dessert sounds so tasty and that photo is scrumptious.

Shelley Munro said...

I love baklava but have never tried to make it. This recipes sounds easy enough though! Looks yummy too.

Darke Conteur said...

Oh yeah, I've put this blog post in my food file. Can't wait to try it!

Sarah Ahiers (Falen) said...

oh man, i love to make and eat bakalava. I really need to get on a batch, my fam has been bugging me.

Nadja Notariani said...

Wow! I cannot believe how well-loved baklava is ...I only knew I loved it...haha.

And yes, the cardamom makes it! Mmmm-hhmmm-hhmmm. :)

Thanks again for having me, Maria.

jackie b central texas said...

Yummy, saw this in WalMart deli the other day and thought it looked scrumptious. Will probably not try to make it but am def going to buy some to eat now that know the ingredients.

Thanks for the "sweet" idea ladies, too bad cannot send us some of yours Maria but enjoy when you bake it as your house is going to smell very cozy!

Dru said...

Never made it, but if done right, it's very tasty.

lisagkendall said...

I've never tried to make baklava, I don't think I've ever really eaten any, but I will be trying out this recipe soon. Thanks. lisag(at)yahoo(dot)com