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Friday, November 18, 2011
The holidays are a great time for family and friends gathering and I take a special pleasure in baking sweet delights like baklava for festive occasions. I like walnuts and orange zest in mine, some have mixed nuts like almonds, walnuts and pistachios, most have cinnamon and clove. One of my friends recently asked if I had ever had chocolate baklava, so I decided to bake a pan to bring to work and added some dark semi and bittersweet chocolate. Thank you James, what a decadent dessert!
2 lbs walnuts (4 cups)
1 lb fillo dough
1/2 lb butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 bread crumbs
1/4 extra light olive oil
1 tbsp. cinnamon
1 tsp ground clove
zest of one orange (optional ingredient - chocolate)
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 cup honey
1 slice of orange - the juice of half orange
2 cinnamon sticks
4 whole cloves
Make your syrup first. Put all the ingredients in a small pot and bring to a boil, turn heat to low and let simmer for about 15 minutes. Remove from heat.
Pastry: Preheat oven to 325.
Melt butter in a small pan and set aside for when you layer the fillo and nuts.
Next step is to prepare the nut mixture. If the walnuts are whole or big chunks, whirl them around in a food processor until small bits. Don't overdo it or you'll have walnut butter. Sometimes, I mix the sugar, bread crumbs, orange zest, cinnamon, clove and salt in the processor with the nuts so they are well incorporated. Lastly add the olive oil and coat everything. It should like the picture above. Now you are ready to put it together.
In a 9 by 13 inch pan, coat with a bit of extra light olive oil and layer fillo on all sides, like so. Coat the layers with butter, or if you want to be a little more health conscience, olive oil. Just make sure you use extra light, otherwise it will overwhelm the flavor of the pastry. The bottom is about 10 layers thick.
Add one third of the walnut mixture and spread evenly. If you want to add some chocolate (use semi or bittersweet or it will be cloyingly sweet!). I would suggest using 1/3 cup per nut layer.
Layer another 7 to 10 sheets of fillo and coat every other sheet with butter. Another third of the walnut mixture.Layer and coat 10 more sheets of fillo and then the rest of the nuts. Fold over the sides of the fillo and add a dozen or so to the top. Always finish to top with butter so it will brown properly.
Then score the top of the baklava before putting into the oven. I do it lengthwise but traditionally they cut diamond shapes. Bake for 1 hour or until the top is slightly browned and flaky looking. Take out of the oven and pour the honey syrup over the hot baklava. I fish out the orange, cinnamon sticks, whole cloves and use a sieve to make sure they are no bits of things in the syrup.
Leave uncovered to cool. Cool completely before slicing into squares or diamonds.
Posted by Flo Titmus at 2:22 PM