Megan was at it again. She loves to give her homemade creations as gifts, and this time she was gearing up for Father’s Day. Dad deserved something special. She took her time deciding on a recipe, and settled on..…..baklava!
Baklava is surprisingly easy to make. Layer thin sheets of phyllo dough with melted butter, walnuts, cinnamon and sugar; cut it into diamonds and bake. While the pastry is in the oven, make a simple syrup of honey, water, and lemon. When the baklava is baked, crispy, and golden brown, pour the syrup over the top. That’s it! As the pastry cools, it soaks in the sweet honey syrup and develops that rich and sticky bottom layer (my favorite part).
Meg worked carefully; layering her dough and walnuts, brushing with butter, and baking to a golden brown. She was a little worried about pouring the hot syrup over the beautifully browned pastry…but did it anyway. Her finished baklava was beautiful, crispy, sweet, and sticky. Just wonderful! Her dad just loved his father’s day gift, and Megan, once again, was beaming with self pride.
Well, Meg has proven that she has truly become confident in the kitchen. Actually, she’s not just confident – she’s fearless! Any other fearless kid chef’s out there?
½ cup melted butter
2 cups finely chopped pistachios, walnuts, almonds or hazelnuts
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 Lb. package phyllo dough
1 cup water
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup honey
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Brush melted butter over the bottoms and sides of a 9" X 13" pan
Toss chopped nuts with cinnamon. Set aside.
Unroll phyllo dough and cut the stack in half to fit the pan, if necessary.**** Place 2 sheets of dough in pan and generously brush with butter. Repeat with 3 additional layers of dough.
Sprinkle ¼ cup of nut mixture on top of the fourth layer, top with 2 sheets of dough, brush with butter. Repeat 5-6 times.
Place 2 sheets of dough on top of the final nut layer and brush with butter.
Repeat 2 times for a total of 6 layers of phyllo on the top.
Using a sharp knife, cut baklava into diamonds, making sure to cut all the way to the bottom of the pan. Just before baking, lightly sprinkle the top of the pastry with cold water. This inhibits the pastry from curling.
Bake for 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 300 degrees and bake until golden brown, about 15 additional minutes.
While baklava is baking, boil water and sugar until sugar is dissolved. Add vanilla, honey and lemon juice. Simmer for 20 minutes.
As soon as baklava is finished baking, pour sauce evenly over it. Allow to cool at room temperature.
Store at room temperature lightly covered for up to 5 days or freeze, airtight, for longer storage.
****Phyllo dough dries out easily. While working with it, keep covered with plastic wrap and topped with a damp cloth.