My husband and I have a long-standing tradition of making baklava together for Christmas day. Baklava is a traditional Greek dessert made with phyllo dough, walnuts and a special syrup. It is best made well in advance of serving so the ingredients have time to soak into the phyllo dough. Mmmm.
BAKLAVA INGREDIENTS FOR LAYERING
1 (16 oz) pkg phyllo dough (use both packages in the box)
1 cup melted butter (2 sticks)
1 pound chopped walnuts (finely chopped in a food processor)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
INGREDIENTS FOR BAKLAVA SAUCE
1 cup water
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon real vanilla extract or 1/2 vanilla bean
½ cup honey
some orange peel and lemon peel
juice of ½ a lemon
1 cinnamon stick
DIRECTIONS FOR BAKLAVA SAUCE
In saucepan over medium heat, mix water and sugar until sugar is dissolved. Reduce heat and add vanilla, honey, citrus peels, lemon juice & cinnamon stick. Simmer gently for 20 minutes. Remove from heat to cool & remove citrus and cinnamon stick.
Preheat oven to 300°F.
Chop nuts in food processor and toss with cinnamon. Set aside.
Butter the bottom of a 9×13 inch pan.(one with square edges is better than rounded like the glass pan we used.)
Unroll phyllo dough, keep covered with a damp towel while working.
Reserve 6-8 sheets of phyllo dough for the top layer. Cover & set aside.
Layer 8 sheets of phyllo dough on the bottom, buttering each sheet with melted butter.
Sprinkle approximately 3 tablespoons of nut mixture on top.
Add two more sheets of phyllo, buttering each individually.
**Press each sheet down firmly before buttering.**
Add a layer of nuts as shown.
Add two more sheets of dough, pressing, buttering & nutting. ☺
Repeat until nuts are gone, then place the remaining 6-8 layers on top, buttering each.
Using a very sharp knife, cut according to diagram below.
Poke one clove into center of each triangle.
Bake for approximately 1 hour to 1.5 hours or until golden brown, remove from oven & immediately pour cooled sauce over the hot baklava.