Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Recipe Review: Baklava

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My great-grandfather was from Greece, and because of this, my grandmother used to serve all sorts of yummy Greek and Mediterranean foods. I fell in love with lamb at an early age, and now its one of my favorite meats. I also, fell in love with, a super yummy, sticky, sweet dessert - baklava. I've attempted it in the past and ended up with a casserole dish of icky sticky runny mess with no shape or crisp.

I've been wanting to conquer baklava, and it's always been in the back of my mind. I usually make a chocolate trifle for Christmas and was thinking about doing something different this year.

I did a search for recipes and found a TON! Some were like I had tried in the past, and some seemed a little amateur, and that made me leery. I finally tried MyRecipes.com and found one that they had tried in their test kitchen. I tend to trust "test kitchen" recipes because they're professionals, and if they're happy with how a recipe turns out, its gotta be a good one.

The Recipe: Baklava

The Process:
Making baklava is an art. There is a lot that goes into it, and its impossible to make a quick baklava (Trust me, I've tried). The recipe says 90 minutes of prep, and that's spot on. It took me an hour and half to get this thing put together and in the oven. I chopped up the nuts (forgot to rinse the pistachios) to make my filling and rolled out my phyllo dough. I trimmed my phyllo dough to fit in my 9x13 pan that I sprayed with baking spray. I melted my butter (2.5 sticks! EEK!) and began brushing each layer of dough as I layed each sheet down. 8 sheets later, it was time to put my filling in. I spread a heaping 1/3 cup of filling and then did two layers of dough.
Why yes, on the right, that is 2.5 sticks of butter melted...and I used IT ALL!
I think there ended up being 5 or 6 layers. Then I finished off with the rest of the phyllo dough, then put in the freezer for 10 minutes. It REALLY helped with cutting it. You cut it before so that the syrup gets all in it and it can soak it up. Then in the oven it went! Per the directions, I put a cookie sheet with water in it on the rack underneath the baklava (still not quite sure what that does?) After about an hour, I made the syrup. I was a little short on the honey, but I'm not really sure it made that much of a difference (I had 2/3 cup, and needed 3/4 cup). It was thinner than I expected, but still smelled and tasted yummy. Once the baklava came out of the oven, I poured the syrup on the baklava (it filled the pan!), let it cool a bit, and then covered it with foil to sit overnight. This morning, we had baklava for breakfast (ok, only one piece each, but still!). I used a spatula, and very carefully pulled each piece out and put them in muffin cups. The top layer is crispy and flaky, and all the syrup has been soaked up. The pieces aren't even, but oh well. Martha Stewart I am not :-)
42 pieces

The Verdict: There is nothing better than fresh, homemade baklava...and this is perfect. It is so tasty, flaky and gooey all at the same time. I believe I can now say I have conquered baklava.

The Lowdown: Make at least one day before. It takes awhile to make and prep, so make sure you've got plenty of time. Put your phyllo dough in the fridge the day before you make it so it can thaw.

This one definitely gets 5 out of 5 stitches
Baklava = 5/5

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