Friday, April 20, 2012

Baklava.......What More Do I Need to Say!!!



A cool breeze has once taken over the Midwest. After the 70 degree tease last weekend, we have since returned to the chill of early Spring. This peek into Summer has my mind day dreaming about all of the possibilities and I was starting to get excited....but Mother Nature has other plans and reminded me I need to be patient! 
So here I am....inside with the heat on...trying to entertain myself! For those who know me....we know what that means......off to the kitchen I go! So with a day off during the busy tax season, I thought what else does one do with a free day. Guess I will take on the challenge and hopefully enjoy the results of Baklava.....well that and the fact I have family visiting this weekend so I am waiting for the plane...Some days I lack patience....and today is one of them! 
I remember the first time I tried Baklava...I was hooked. The delicacy of the dough match up with the cinnamon, nuts and honey.  What is better??!! While it is one of my favorite pastries, I have never attempted to make it personally. I guess the multi-layer concept scared me..along with the easy access to buy it already made.  Why make it when one's grocery store sells it by the piece......
Now that is the exact reason why I needed to make it. I am not a fan of anything "premade". I guess it is one of my pet peeves..not knowing where or even how things are made.  I appreciate the ability to know the ingredients that have gone into it as well as the accomplishment of completion. I have been labeled a "purist" by those around me.....and I guess that isn't too bad of a description in my opinion. I will take it! 
Well, I am off to the airport.....I hope your weekend is as enjoyable as I plan on mine to be. Enjoy time with those around you and be grateful for these wonderful moments!
Baklava
1/2 pkg phyllo dough (16 oz.), thawed
1 lb. Walnuts, toasted and chopped
1/2 C Unsalted Butter, melted
1 Tsp Cinnamon
1 C Water
1 C Sugar
1 Tsp Vanilla
1/2 C Honey
1 Tbsp Lemon Juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter the bottoms and sides of a 9x13 inch pan. Set aside. 

On a separate cookie sheet, Place nuts in preheated oven for 10 minutes to toast. Remove from oven and cool. Once cooled, combine chopped nuts and cinnamon in a bowl and set aside.

Unroll phyllo dough. (Hint: Keep phyllo dough rolled up or cover with a dampened cloth to keep from drying out as you work. Once the package is open, dough will need to be used quickly.) Place a sheet of dough in pan, butter thoroughly. Place a second sheet down and butter. Continue layers and butter until you have 8 sheets. Sprinkle 4 tablespoons of nut mixture on buttered phyllo. Next place down a sheet and butter (do twice - two sheets between each nut layers). Then add nuts, and keep layering as you go until you have 6-8 layers. Place pan in fridge for 15 minutes. 

Once chilled, use a VERY sharp knife cut into square shapes all the way to the bottom of the pan. Bake for about 40 minutes until golden and crisp.

While baklava is baking, make sauce. Boil sugar, lemon juice and water until sugar is melted. Add vanilla and honey. Simmer for 15-20 minutes.

Remove baklava from oven and immediately spoon sauce over it. Let cool. 

Note: Baklava gets better the longer it sits so do ahead of time. It also freezes well.  If serving soon, leave uncovered. If not ,do not cover tightly or it will get soggy. 

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