Baklava is a dessert steeped in history. It dates back to as far as the 8th century B.C., eaten largely by the rich and wealthy across the Roman, Persian and Byzantine empire with various Greek, Lebanese, Turkish and Armenian iterations. As a lover of anything sweet and rich (i.e. Indian desserts), the discovery of baklava here in Canada was somewhat of a revelation. Unfortunately for me and my jeans, my family has become consistently good at bringing a box of two to birthday parties. It’s certainly not cheap, but as a special occasion treat, it’s absolutely worth the guilt.
According to wikipedia, the baklava I’ve been making is of the Persian variety, using ground almond and pistachio spiced with cardamom and then drenched in rose water syrup. However, another source claims that the addition of rose water is an Arab tradition. Either way, I highly recommend using rose water as it makes for something extra special. Fleur d’oranger with honey is also a great substitute.
Pistachio and Almond Baklava
1lbs of filo pastry
2/3 cup of melted unsalted butter
For the fillings
3 cups of coarsely ground nuts (I chose pistachio and almonds)
1 1/4 cups icing sugar
1 tbsp ground cardamom
For the syrup
2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups water
2 tbsp rose water
Place sugar and water in a saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil and let simmer for 10 minutes until thick and syrupy. Stir in the rose water and set aside.
In a separate bowl, mix together icing sugar, cardamom, and your choice of nuts.
Take out your filo pastry and cut according to the size of your baking pan.
Before assembling the baklava, butter up the pan. Take one sheet of filo pastry and brush it with melted butter and gently lay it down on the pan. Continue until you have six buttered layers assembled. Spread half of the nut mixture as evenly as you can. Take another six sheets of filo pastry, brushed with butter, and lay them on top of the nuts. Sprinkle the remaining nuts and top once again with the final layers of six filo sheets. Cut the pastry into lozenges and pour what’s left of your butter on top.
Bake for 20 minutes at 325F. Increase the heat to 400F and bake again for 15 minutes until the baklava turns a pale golden colour and puffs up.
Remove from the oven and drizzle most of the syrup over the pastry, reserving the rest for serving after it has cooled down.
And there. Easy peasy, right? You can eat it as soon as it has cooled down, give them as gifts, or make it for a holiday potluck.