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Author Notes: I finally decided to give baklava making a try when my friend requested it for her birthday. I was pleasantly surprised at not only how simple it was to whip up but how that deep honey flavor could easily be achieved by letting the dish absorb the flavors overnight. Now it's your turn to impress all of your friends with your worldly skills and whip up a dish of baklava. —Vegetarian 'Ventures
Serves: 10 to 12
cups chopped nuts (almonds, pistachios, walnuts, pecans, or a mix)
packet phyllo dough, thawed in the fridge overnight
tablespoons butter, melted, divided
cinnamon stick (optional)
teaspoon vanilla extract
- In a small bowl, toss together the nuts and cinnamon and set aside.
- Butter a 9- x 9-inch baking dish and preheat oven to 375º F.
- Set aside a small bowl of 3 tablespoons of the melted butter, then remove your phyllo from the package and wrap it in a clean, damp kitchen towel (only remove the sheets you are immediately working with in order to avoid drying out the phyllo). Next, layer the phyllo pieces with the crushed nuts. Remove two sheets of dough from under the cloth and use a pastry brush to brush one of the sheets with melted butter. Place the unbuttered sheet into the square dish, layered with the buttered piece butter side-down (cut any excess that doesn't fit just right into the dish). Repeat two more times until you have 6 layers of phyllo dough, alternating between pieces brushed with melted butter and plain pieces.
- Spread 1/3 of the nuts over the phyllo dough to create the first nut layer.
- Repeating the same technique from Step 3, layer another set of 6 phyllo sheets, alternating between buttered and plain sheets, for a total of four times so that you have 24 sheets of phyloo total (4 layers of 6).
- Cut a diagonal diamond pattern through the baklava with a very sharp knife to make single servings, as shown in the picture below. There should be about 3 to 4 cuts from each side of the baking sheet, going across diagonally.
- Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.
- While the baklava is baking, combine the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter with the honey, cinnamon stick (if using), vanilla, sugar, and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low and cook, covered, for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let the cinnamon stick steep until the baklava is finished baking.
- Once the baklava is finished baking, remove the cinnamon stick from the syrup and drizzle the golden liquid over the baklava. Let it sit to cool for several hours or, ideally, overnight.