Author Notes: This is a recipe for the traditional Iranian baklava (baghlava) which I have reinvented and perfected over the last 30+ years. I simply went by taste and texture and kept trying out new approaches until I was happy with the results. I only make this once a year for the vernal equinox which rings in the Iranian new year. It took me about 10 years to come up with a recipe which I could be proud of.
Food52 Review: WHO: cookingProf is an Iranian-born computer science professor in Oklahoma who finds cooking just as rewarding as teaching. (She also happens to be our assistant editor Nozlee's mother!)
WHAT: Baklava like you've never seen it before: the puff pastry, walnuts, and honey you're used to are swapped out for a flaky pie crust, almonds, and rose water.
HOW: The tightly packed filling of almonds and cardamom is frozen before baking so it slices cleanly into diamonds, and syrup is poured over the warm baklava after baking for maximum absorption.
WHY WE LOVE IT: The delicate flavors of rose water and cardamom make this treat welcome at dessert or with a simple cup of tea, and the finished diamonds are sturdy enough to pack for gifts or a picnic. —The Editors
Makes: about 3 dozen pieces
Crust, glaze, and syrup topping
cups All purpose flour
cup Very cold water
tablespoon Crushed raw pistachios (for garnish)
cup Sugar (for syrup topping)
cup water (for syrup topping)
tablespoon Rose water (for syrup topping)
teaspoon Flour (for top glaze)
tablespoons Water (for top glaze)
cups Almond meal/almond flour
cup Powdered sugar
teaspoon Ground cardamom
tablespoon Rose water
- Mix 2 tbsp water and 1/2 tbs rosewater and set aside.
- Mix the almond meal, cardamom and powdered sugar and transfer to a food processor bowl. Blend until uniformly mixed. Drizzle the water/rosewater mix while the food processor is running to give the filling some moisture. Transfer to a bowl and set aside. CAUTION: Do not over run the food processor as the mixture will become gooey and turn into marzipan. Note: If you cannot find almond meal in the bulk section of your local Whole Foods or a health food store, you can make your own by processing 12 ounces of slivered almonds in a food processor.
- put 1-1/8 cup of flour in the food processor bowl. Cut the butter into 8 pieces and add to the bowl. Pulse the food processor until the butter forms small pea-sized pieces. Run the food processor and drizzle 1/8 cup of cold water until the dough just starts to form small ball-sized pieces.
- Wrap the dough in plastic and form a rectangular block. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes. The dough can be made 1-2 days ahead of time and refrigerated.
- You need a 9X9 inch pan. Cut half of the dough with a knife and place between two pieces of plastic wrap. Roll out the crust. Trim the sides to a 9X9 inch square and lay at the bottom of the pan. It is Ok if the crust is a little bigger than the pan.
- Transfer the baklava filling to the baking pan. Spread and press the filling into an even and smooth surface. Repeat making a 9X9 inch crust for the top as in the above step. Lay the crust on top of the filling and push the edges down. Remove any excess edges with a knife.
- Put the baking pan in the freezer for 15-20 minutes. This step stops the top crust from crawling when being cut into diamond shapes.
- Use a ruler to score the crust into 8 equal-sized parallel section. Repeat the process diagonally until you end up with a diamond-shaped pattern on top of the crust. Set the ruler aside. Using a thin-blade knife (such as a pairing knife) cut along the straight and diagonal lines throughout. (Note: If you have a nice pan and would like to avoid cut marks on it, you might wish to line it with parchment paper).
- Top Glaze:
- In a small glass bowl, mix 2 tablespoons of water and 1/2 teaspoon of flour. Microwave for 20 second. Stir. Microwave for another 20 seconds. Glaze the top crust with this mixture. This will give the baklava an even and golden finish.
- Put the baking dish in a 350-degree preheated oven. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove the half-baked baklava and cut through any fused pieces on the top crust with a knife. Return to the oven and bake for another 20 minutes. Increase the oven temperature to 375 degrees and bake for another 10 minutes or until the crust turns golden.
- Topping Syrup:
- While the baklava is baking (this could actually be done days ahead), put 1/2 cup of sugar and 3/8 cup of water in a small pot and bring to a low boil over medium-low heat until the sugar is melted. Add 1 tablespoon of rose water and bring the syrup to full boil. Remove from heat.
- Pour the warm syrup over warm baklava. Sprinkle with finely chopped pistachios. Let the baklava sit for 30-60 minutes or until the syrup is absorbed.
- The baklava improves with 1-2 days of aging. It keeps for weeks in room-temperature in a sealed container. Cut the diamonds out and store. Use waxed paper or plastic wrap to stack layers for storage.
- This recipe is a Wildcard Contest Winner!