Tips: Baklava is a traditional Greek pastry, made with many
layers of paper-thin dough called "phyllo", a nut-and-spice filling,
and a honey syrup. This version has chocolate, too. This takes time
and patience, and working with phyllo can be tricky, but baklava
is a terrific holiday dessert,it must be made at least a day in
advance (preferably longer), and it will keep for at least two weeks
at room temperature if covered very tightly.
You can use good-quality
semisweet or bittersweet chocolate for this; I thought that the
bittersweet overwhelmed the nut filling, but some of my testers
really preferred it.
To bake this, you'll
need two aluminum pans, each 13" by 9" by 2", and a baking sheet
that's longer, wider, and shallower (a 15" by 10" by 1" sheet is
I have found that
the best way for me to work with phyllo dough is as follows: make
sure the phyllo is at room temperature (do not open the box or the
sealed bag in which phyllo comes until you're ready to work with
Have ready the nut
filling, melted butter, a soft pastry brush, your baking pans, a
pair of kitchen shears, a small sharp knife, and a large, sharp,
serrated knife (you may also want a ruler if you like to be precise).
Make sure the oven
is preheated. On a large work table, lay out a dish towel or sheet
of wax paper larger than the unrolled phyllo sheets will be (the
box should tell you the size of the sheets). Have ready another
dish towel, very lightly dampened, and a sheet of wax paper or plastic
Open the phyllo box
and remove the dough from the bag. Unroll it and lay it out flat
on the first (undampened) dish towel or sheet of wax paper. Quickly
cover with the second wax paper sheet/plastic wrap, then the dampened
dish towel. Make sure all of the phyllo is covered!
uncover the phyllo, and place your baking pan upside down on the
dough sheets. Trace around the outside edge with the small sharp
knife. With the kitchen shears, cut along the lines you've traced.
Leave the trimmings in place; you may use them later. Re-cover the
dough, and make sure to keep it covered while you work with it..
- 1-3/4 c. granulated
- 1 c. water
- 5 whole cloves
- 2 sticks cinnamon,
each about 3" long
- Finely grated
rind of 2 large, deep-colored oranges (no white pith)
- Few grains salt
- 1 c. mild, light
- 1 lb. shelled
walnuts or almonds
- 12 ozs. good-quality
semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- 1 Tbsp. ground
- 1/4 tsp. ground
- About 1 lb. phyllo
dough, at room temperature
- 3/4 c. (1-1/2
sticks) unsalted butter, melted
This must be made first, as it should be at room temperature when
the baklava comes out of the oven. However, it can be made a few
days in advance and stored, tightly covered, at room temperature.
In heavy-bottomed, nonreactive 2 quart pot, combine all ingredients
except honey. Place over medium heat and stir frequently until
mixture comes to a boil (you want the sugar to dissolve before
it boils). Reduce heat so syrup simmers; simmer 10 minutes. Remove
from heat. Stir in honey until thoroughly blended. Strain to remove
spices and orange rind (you won't get out all of the rind--OK).
Cool completely, then cover tightly and store at room temperature
until needed. Do not refrigerate! This syrup will be very thick
In food processor fitted with steel blade, process nuts by "pulsing"
processor on-and-off until they are very finely chopped. You don't
want a nut paste, so be careful. Turn nuts into a large bowl.
Process chocolate by "pulsing", too, until very finely chopped;
again, you don't want a paste. (Both nuts and chocolate can be
chopped by hand, if desired.) Combine chocolate with nuts. Add
ground cinnamon and cloves and mix very thoroughly. Set this mixture
where you'll assemble the baklava. Now, adjust oven rack to center
position, and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
The idea is to form a pastry with three layers, each of multiple
sheets of phyllo, and two layers of Filling. The box of phyllo should
tell you about how many sheets of dough you have; 26-30 is typical.
the number of sheets by three, and that will tell you how many you
should use per layer. Using a bit of the melted butter and the pastry
brush, lightly butter the bottom and sides of one of the 13" by
9" by 2" pans. Uncover the phyllo; place one cut sheet (remember
you cut them to size earlier?) in the bottom of the pan, quickly
covering the remaining phyllo. Quickly butter this sheet lightly,
again using the melted butter. Repeat this process with a second
cut sheet of phyllo. Continue building a layer of phyllo, lightly
brushing each sheet with melted butter as you place it in the pan,
and periodically lightly tamping down any extra dough on the sides
of the pan to make your phyllo layer as even as possible (this isn't
critical--it just makes the finished product look neater). When
you've built up a layer of phyllo with about 1/3 of the total number
of sheets you have, make sure any remaining sheets are covered.
Place about half of the chocolate-nut Filling on top of the top
sheet, and spread it as evenly as possible. Repeat this process,
making another layer of phyllo sheets (lightly buttering each and
using another 1/3 of your total number), then covering the top sheet
of the phyllo layer with the remaining Filling and spreading it
as evenly as possible. Build a final layer of phyllo sheets, lightly
buttering each, with the remaining dough. It is VERY important to
remember to re-cover the phyllo each time you take a sheet of dough
from the stack; you don't want the dough to dry out. If your phyllo
is uncooperative and tears, don't despair. You can use the trimmings
as part of your dough sheets, patching them together as you go along.
Just make sure the last piece of dough you put on top of the baklava
is a whole sheet (it looks better), and make certain to lightly
brush the top sheet with butter. If you need a bit more butter,
cover everything to keep it from drying out, melt the butter, and
proceed with the recipe. If you have butter left over from the amount
called for, that's OK.
the pan of baklava is assembled, take the large, sharp, serrated
knife and cut the baklava from one corner of the pan diagonally
across to a point roughly 2/3 to 3/4 of the way along the opposite
side. If you want to use a ruler now, go ahead; you'll make two
parallel cuts, one to either side of the original, and each measuring
about 1-1/2" away from the original. The idea here is to cut the
pan of baklava into strips approximately 1-1/2" in width. Don't
just score the top sheets of phyllo; cut down as far as you reasonably
can. If some of the top sheets of phyllo shift a bit, replace them.
I find it helpful to keep the spread-apart fingers of one hand firmly
on the baklava while I cut it. The corners of the pan are likely
to give more trouble, too--just do the best you can. Now, make cuts
at a 90 degree angle to the first cuts so that your pan of baklava
will be cut into diamond shapes, 1-1/2" on a side (shapes will be
triangular on the edges of the pan). Work as quickly as possible
while doing this. Place the pan of cut baklava into the second,
empty 13" by 9" by 2" foil pan.
over to the sink.Wet one hand with cold water and flick drops onto
the top surface of the baklava.You don't want the top surface really
wet--just dampened with water drops.
the doubled pan of baklava onto the cookie sheet, and place all
in the preheated 350 degree F oven. Bake about 1 hour and 20 minutes,
switching baklava back-to-front about halfway through, until it
is risen and a light golden brown. Remove all from oven, then set
cookie sheet aside and place doubled pan of baklava on sturdy cooling
using a large spoon, ladle about half of the cooled syrup all over
the top of the baklava (when it first hits the hot baklava, the
syrup will sizzle). Do this slowly, so that the baklava has a chance
to absorb the syrup, and make sure you get syrup into the edges
the baklava rest for 5-10 minutes, then slowly ladle the remaining
syrup all over the top. It will look like there is too much syrup,
but the baklava will absorb it.
completely at room temperature, then cover airtight with something
that won't touch the top surface of the baklava (heavy-duty aluminum
foil works well). Let stand at room temperature at least 24 hours
To serve, re-trace
cuts you made in baklava with small, sharp, serrated knife. I
like to serve the diamonds in foil baking cups; I usually keep
the smaller triangles for snacking. 30-36 diamonds and additional
Stephanie Zonis provides the above information to anyone, but
retains copyright on all text. This means that you may not: distribute
the text to others without the express written permission of Stephanie
Zonis; "mirror" or include this information on your
own server or documents without my permission; modify or re-use
the text on this system. You MAY: print copies of the information
for your own personal use; store the files on your own computer
for your personal use only; reference hypertext documents on this
server from your own documents.