Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Mary Ann's Decadent Baklava

Baklava is a classic Greek pastry made with flaky phyllo dough that is layered with a cinnamon-spiced nut filling, and bathed in a sweet syrup of honey, cinnamon and brown sugar. It’s crunchy, sinfully sweet and very decadent. My friend Mary Ann makes the best Baklava I've ever tasted. It's wonderfully nutty, buttery and sticky with the sweet orange-honey sauce that she pours over the pastry as it comes out hot from the oven. Mary Ann's recipe should come with a warning — Beware: Contents are addictive!

Mary Ann's Baklava
Makes a 9"x13" tray

1/2 lb unsalted butter
1 package of Phyllo (or Filo) dough, unthawed
3 cups of walnuts, roughly chopped
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup light brown sugar

1 cup honey
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup water
1 cinnamon stick
1 orange, zest only
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350°F. Melt the butter. Mix the chopped walnuts, sugar and cinnamon together in a bowl.

Unroll the package of phyllo dough. Using a brush, butter the bottom of a 9"x13" pan and lay down one sheet of phyllo. Continue adding sheets brushed with butter until there are 12 sheets in the pan. Spread 1 cup of the nut mixture smoothly over the pastry; add another layer of phyllo and another cup of nuts, and the same again. Continue adding layers of buttered dough until the package is finished.

Take a sharp knife and cut down through all of the layers, making diamond shapes. Once finished, put the pan in the oven and bake for one hour, or until the pastry is slightly puffed and golden on top. Don't allow the top to burn. 

While the baklava is baking, start to prepare the sauce by combining all the ingredients into a medium sauce pan. Cook the sauce for about 20 minutes, until the sauce starts to thicken slightly. Stir frequently to prevent the sauce from sticking, burning or boiling over. After 20 minutes, turn the heat off and let it cool down.

When the baklava comes out of the oven, pour the sauce overtop and leave to cool. Use a sharp knife to serve the diamond shapes pieces and enjoy!