A sweet and aromatic Middle Eastern dessert made from nuts, spices, honey, and phyllo dough. Prepare to put some time into this one, but the outcome is more than worth it! Please note that this is a highly aromatic dish with a blend of delicate flavors and it is important not to leave out or replace any ingredients with lower-quality substitutes.
- 1 5-inch ceylon cinnamon quill, broken into 2 or 3 pieces (do NOT use the darker, more commonly-found cassia cinnamon, as its flavor is too harsh for this dish, and it’s also nearly impossible to break into pieces)
- 15-20 whole allspice berries
- 6 oz. blanched almonds
- 6 oz. raw or roasted walnuts
- 6 oz. raw or roasted pistachios
- 2/3 c. granulated sugar
Rose Water Spritz
- ¼ c. water
- 1 tsp. rose water
- 1 lb. phyllo dough, thawed (place frozen package in refrigerator at least 24 hours prior to baking OR heat for 45 seconds in 1200 watt microwave)
- 8 oz. clarified, unsalted butter OR ghee, melted
- 1 c. honey
- 1 c. water
- 1 c. granulated sugar
- 1 ceylon cinnamon quill
- 1 2-inch piece of fresh orange peel
- Preheat oven to 350° F.
- Use a spice grinder (or coffee grinder) to grind the cinnamon quill and allspice berries.
- Place almonds, walnuts, pistachios, ground spices, and sugar in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped, but not pasty or powdery. This should take 15-20 quick pulses.
- Mix water and rose water in a small spritz bottle and set aside.
- Clarify butter. (Alternately, you may use melted ghee, which is available in Indian markets.)
- Trim phyllo dough to fit nicely in a 9 x 13″ pan.
- Brush bottoms and sides of pan with clarified butter. Lay down one sheet of phyllo and brush with butter. Repeat 9 times for a total of 10 layers.
- Top with 1/3 of the nuts mixture. Spritz with rose water. Lay 6 more sheets of phyllo, brushing each sheet with butter.
- Repeat, using 1/3 of the nuts, spritzing, with 6 more sheets of phyllo.
- Repeat, using the last third of nuts, spritzing, and finish with 8 sheets of phyllo. Brush the top with remaining butter.
- Bake for 15 minutes.
- Remove pan from oven and carefully cut baklava into approximately 28 squares using a pizza cutter or sharp knife.
- Bake for another 15-18 minutes. If using a metal pan instead of glass or Pyrex, you may have to bake for slightly longer. Make sure to monitor carefully. Any burning, even slight, will ruin this dish.
- Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack for 2 hours.
- Begin the syrup in the last 30 minutes of cooling. In a 4-quart saucepan over high heat, combine honey, water, sugar, cinnamon quill, and orange peel. Stir to dissolve sugar.
- Bring to a boil and boil for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Remove from heat and discard cinnamon quill and orange peel.
- The baklava should have cooled for approximately 2 hours now. Re-cut it along the same lines as the first cut.
- Pour hot syrup evenly over baklava, making sure to let syrup seep into the cuts and along edges of the pan.
- Let baklava sit uncovered until completely cool.
- Cover and store at room temperature for 8-12 hours before serving.
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