Like many of my favorite cookies, Baklava is something my sister-in-law, Carol, taught me to make. Don’t let the name and appearance intimidate you. Making this exotic pastry is much easier than you think – the techniques are different, but it’s no more complicated than making chocolate chip cookies.
The key to success is good phyllo dough. One that’s used as soon as it’s thawed, never refrozen after thawing.
3 c. sugar
1 1/2 c. water
1/2 lemon sliced
2 T. light corn syrup
1/4 – 1/2 t. cinnamon
1 lb. walnuts, finely chopped
1/4 c. sugar
1 – 2 t. cinnamon
1 lb. phyllo dough, thawed
about 1 c. butter, melted
To make the syrup, combine all ingredients over low heat, stirring until sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Stop stirring, increase heat to medium – med high, cooking about 10 more minutes until syrupy. Cool.
To make filling, combine all ingredients. A food processor is perfect for this.
Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 13 x 9 baking pan or 15 x 10 jelly roll pan.
To assemble pastry, cover the bottom of prepared pan with a sheet of phyllo and lightly brush with butter. (If the sheets don’t fit the pan perfectly, I just fold over the excess, alternating the side with each layer.) Repeat with 7 more layers. Spread with half the filling. Top with 8 more sheets, brushing each layer with butter. Spread with remaining nut mixture and top with 8 more sheets of phyllo, brushing each layer with butter.
Using a sharp knife, make length-wise cuts through the top layer of pastry 1 to 1 1/2 inches wide. Then make diagonal cuts across the strips to form diamond shapes, spacing to yield the desired size cookie.
Just before baking, lightly sprinkle the top of the pastry with cold water. This will keep the pastry from curling. Bake for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 300 and bake until golden brown, about 15 – 20 more minutes.
Cut through the scored lines. Drizzle the cooled syrup slowly over the hot baklava (you may not need to use all of the syrup) and let cool at least 4 hours (if you can!). Store, lightly covered, at room temperature for up to a week. Baklava may be frozen, but it the pastry loses its crispness.