I recently went on a fabulous trip to Greece. The air was warm and the ocean was so clear. It was a wonderful escape and I hope to go back again many more times. Whenever I travel I try to bring some special local ingredient home with me to continue the culinary journey. Usually I pick up the spices used in the local cuisine but this time I weighed down my bag with 5 jars of honey. The Greeks know what they are doing when it comes it honey, it must be the happy bees.
With the honey I purchased I decided to make my favourite Greek dessert: Baklava. I love the nutty sweetness of baklava. It always ends up becoming a mess on my plate and I feel akin to winnie the pooh licking my honey syrup drenched fingers after gobbling up a big piece.
I made mine per the recipe below with 4 thicker layers of nuts, I have since been advised that the true Greek method is to have multiple thin layers of nuts. I will try that next time and let you know how they different methods compared.
- 1 pound chopped mixed nuts (used almonds, walnuts and pistachios)
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 (16 ounce) package phyllo dough
- 1 cup butter, melted
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Butter a 9×13 inch baking dish.
- Toss together cinnamon and nuts. Unroll phyllo and cut whole stack in half to fit the dish. Cover phyllo with a damp cloth while assembling the baklava, to keep it from drying out.
- Place two sheets of phyllo in the bottom of the prepared dish. Brush generously with butter. Sprinkle 2 to 3 tablespoons of the nut mixture on top. Repeat layers until all ingredients are used, ending with about 6 sheets of phyllo. Using a sharp knife, cut baklava (all the way through to the bottom of the dish) into four long rows, then (nine times) diagonally to make 36 diamond shapes.
- Bake in preheated oven 50 minutes, until golden and crisp.
- While baklava is baking, combine sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Stir in honey, vanilla and lemon zest, reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes.
- Remove the baklava from the oven and immediately spoon the syrup over it. Let cool completely before serving. Store uncovered.
- Eat a large piece (maybe 2) then plan a pilgrimage to try some authentic Baklava in Greece….really they do it best. 😉