One of my favorite sweets has to be baklava with it's multiple layers of toasted nuts sandwiched between ultra thin sheets of crisp dough drowned in honey syrup. The thought of making it at home seemed daunting. But my worries proved to be unfounded because it turned out to be really easy. I mean, it's not like I was had to make my own phyllo dough.
This recipe calls for finely chopped nuts and you can use any combination you like. I like to use almonds, walnuts, and pistachios. Save a few spoonfuls of chopped pistachios to sprinkle over the top after it has been baked. It makes it look extra fancy.
adapted from PRENSES
2 cups white sugar
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup honey
1 cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pound finely chopped nuts (I used a combination of almonds, walnuts and pistachios)
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 (16 ounce) package frozen phyllo pastry, thawed
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). In a saucepan over medium heat, combine 2 cups sugar, water, honey, cinnamon stick, and vanilla. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 15 minutes, skimming any foam that is formed. Set side.
In a small bowl, combine chopped nuts, 2 tablespoons sugar and ground cinnamon; set aside. Brush butter on bottom of a 9x13 inch pan.
Place a sheet of phyllo on bottom of pan, and brush with melted butter. Repeat process for a total of 8 sheets, buttering each.
Sprinkle about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of nut mixture evenly over the phyllo, and cover with 4 more sheets, buttering each. Continue sprinkling nuts after every 4 sheets of phyllo, until all but 8 sheets (4 full sheets) are used.
Use remaining 8 sheets for the top layer, buttering each sheet of phyllo. Before buttering the last sheet, tuck in any loose edges. Press down layers with palms of your hands. Pour remaining butter over the top. With a large knife, cut 5 strips lengthwise about 1/2 inch deep, then cut diagonally to form diamond shapes.Bake in preheated oven for 50 to 60 minutes, or until golden brown.
Remove from oven, and immediately pour syrup over baklava. Allow to cool thoroughly. Cut diamonds to go all the way through, and serve.