Baklava, from Loannina (Northern Greece)
1 16-oz. package phyllo dough, room temperature
1 pound chopped nuts
1 to 1-1/2 c. butter, melted
3 T. (Tablespoon) white sugar
1 t. (teaspoon) ground cinnamon
1 c. water
1 c. white sugar
1 t. vanilla extract
1 stick cinnamon
1/2 c. honey
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9x13" pan. Mix the chopped nuts with 3 T. sugar and the ground cinnamon and set aside. Unroll the phyllo dough. Cover with plastic wrap or aluminum foil topped with a damp cloth, to keep the dough from drying out.
Place 2 sheets of phyllo in the bottom of the pan and brush with melted butter.
Repeat, layering dough and melted butter till you have 6-8 sheets of phyllo. Sprinkle 4 T. (or more) of nut mixture on the phyllo, spreading evenly. Top with 2 sheets of phyllo, melted butter and nut mixture, alternately, until you run out of nuts. Then put 6-8 sheets of dough, brushing butter between each two sheets, on top of the last nut layer. Brush the top layer of
dough with melted butter.
Using a sharp knife, cut into diamond shapes all the way to the bottom of the pan. You might make three cuts lengthwise and then cut diagonally to form the diamonds. Bake about 35 minutes until the baklava is golden and crisp.
Make the syrup while the baklava is baking. Boil 1 c. sugar and 1 c. water till sugar is melted. Add vanilla, cinnamon stick and honey; simmer for about 20 minutes. Remove baklava from oven and spoon the syrup over it. Let cool. Serve in cupcake papers. Leave it uncovered or covered loosely as it gets soggy if wrapped tightly.
This freezes well.
Phyllo dough (pronounced "feelo") is available frozen at many grocery stores. It feels really odd and papery. The package will say cover with a damp towel; however, when I did, the dough stuck to the towel and made an enormous mess, so I use foil or plastic wrap between the dough and the damp towel.
I find it easier to use the dough two sheets at a time. Trying to use only one is difficult; it tears very easily. I have a pastry brush to spread the butter, but fingers work well, too. And I spread the nuts with my fingers.
You have to cut phyllo before you bake it. It shatters if you try to cut it when it is baked.
There must be as many baklava recipes as there are Greek/Turkish/Armenian/etc. grandmothers. Feel free to experiment.
I use all walnuts, but you could certainly use almonds or pecans or a mixture. I saw one recipe that used peanuts, and I have recipes that call for bread crumbs mixed with the nuts. That would make it less costly! Add more (or less) cinnamon or sugar. Add cloves or lemon. Omit the vanilla. I don't believe there is such a thing as bad baklava!
I have recipes that say to put hot syrup on cold baklava, or cold syrup on hot baklava. I put hot on hot, because they are ready at about the same time, but I don't think it matters. The only thing I have not seen is cold on cold.
The recipe says "This freezes well" and that is true. I put each leftover piece in a small Glad-type container and they taste fresh when I thaw them. Leftovers are not a problem, however!
I hope you make this and enjoy it. It is time-consuming but not difficult.