Baklava is a middle-eastern desert. Crafted in the kitchen of the Sultans in Istanbul by their royal bakers. It consists of layers of phyllo and has lots of nuts and spices, which is then drenched in syrup. There are so many variants of this sumptuous desert, some of them are royal secrets which are passed on from generation to generation. This Valentine’s day you can prepare this love-filled desert for your sweetheart or treat yourself with it!
Ingredients for syrup:
- 2-3 cups of sugar and 1 cup of honey
- 1 ½ cups water
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 (3 inch) sticks of cinnamon (optional)
- 2 tablespoons light corn syrups (optional)
- 4-6 whole cloves, ½ teaspoon ground cardamom (optional)
Ingredients for filling:
- 1 pound blanched almonds, pumpkin seeds, muskmelon seeds, sunflower seeds or any other combination.
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1-2 teaspoon ground cloves or cardamom (optional)
- 1 pound (24 sheets approx.) phyllo dough
- About 1 cup melted butter or vegetable oil
- To make the syrup- stir the sugar, water, lemon juice and corn syrup (if using), cinnamon sticks and/or cloves over low heat until the sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Stop stirring, increase the heat to medium, and cook until the mixture is slightly syrupy, about 5 minutes ( it will register 225 degrees on a candy thermometer). Discard the cinnamon sticks and whole cloves. Let cool.
- To make the filling combine all the filling ingredients.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 12-by-9-inch or 13-by-9-inch baking pan or 15-by-10-inch jelly roll pan.
- Place a sheet of phyllo in the prepared pan and lightly brush with butter. Repeat with 7 more sheets. Spread with half of the filling. Top with 8 more sheets, brushing each with butter. Use any torn sheets in the middle layer. Spread with the remaining nut and seed mixture and end with a top layer of 8 sheets, continuing to brush each with butter. Trim any overhanging edges.
- Using a sharp knife, cut 6 equal lengthwise strips (about 1 3/4 inches wide) through the top layer of pastry. Make 1 1/2-inch-wide diagonal cuts across the strips to form diamond shapes.
- 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.
- Cut through the scored lines. Drizzle the cooled syrup slowly over the hot baklava and let cool for at least 4 hours. Cover and store at room temperature for up to 1 week. If the baklava dries out while being stored, drizzle with a little additional hot syrup.
Serve some love on that platter on the Valentine’s Day, with this easy nuts and seeds baklava. Diggin together!