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Thursday, July 1, 2010

Baklava

Baklava is a sweet pastry made using phyllo dough or puff pastry sheets.

Hubby and myself tasted this crunchy dessert for the first time in an Afghan restaurant in Long Island, NY. At that time I couldn't remember the name or believe if I could do it myself in some point of time. But slowly Baklava started getting much closer to us after he joined this new office and I started trying several ways to get his favorite. The only thing I knew was the taste and invented some recipes of my own. First I tried from scratch, i.e., using All purpose flour, that was a good one. (If you can't find the pastry sheets and want a recipe from scratch, just ask for one through the comment and I will be more than happy to publish that too). But the process was enormous and I couldn't prepare many. So searched the web and got some ideas. Faiza Ali has the best using phyllo.  Then I tried using the phyllo dough , which is claimed to be the most authentic way. But the process of separating the phyllo layers was much difficult and I ended up with a scrambled baklava :) .

Again I bought some puff pastry shells and it was super easy as well as perfect for a beginner like me. It was just removing the pastry top, fill the cavity with the sweet nut mix, close, bake and soak it in honey:) That gave me enough confidence to try it again. So if you want a very quick rich dessert, then buy some 'puff pastry shells' instead of 'sheets'.

While googling I got a perfect recipe from Baking bites and many others.Then prepared it using puff pastry sheets and all of our also friends like that.Nowadays if there comes a long weekend hubby never forgets to fill up the freezer with these pastry sheets:)

This recipe comes handy if we wish to prepare two or more desserts for a party , as this can be made in advance and stored. Here goes the recipe for the Baklava using puff pastry sheets.

Ingredients:
Puff pastry sheets - one box (16 oz)
Walnut (finely chopped) - 1 cup
cinnamon powder - 1/4 tsp
brown sugar - 1/2 + 1/4 cup
honey - 1/4 cup
butter - 1 tsp

Method:

Preheat oven to 375 deg F.

Bring the puff pastry sheet to room temperature as per direction.


Generally there will be two sheets. Take an aluminum foil and coat it with oil.
Place one sheet. Using a pizza cutter or knife divide it into 9 or more pieces. Similarly do the same for the other sheet also and keep aside.

Arrange them with a spacing of 1.5 inch in between.


Mix the finely chopped walnut with cinnamon powder, butter and 1/2 cup sugar.
Spread this mix over one set of squares.



Cover each square with an piece of pastry sheet and make a diagonal slit to facilitate baking.


Bake this in 375 deg F for 10 minutes and check if it is puffed up. Otherwise increase the timing by 5 minutes. (See instructions in the pack).
In the mean time bring to boil a 1/4 cup of brown sugar and 1/4 cup water. Let it achieve a syrup like consistency. Then add a pinch of cinnamon + vanilla essence to it. Let it cool.


Take the baked baklava out.


Pour the prepared syrup in a pan and place the baklava over it. Drizzle some honey over the baklava and we are all set now.



Serve the Baklava immediately or cool. Baklava is ready!

Serving suggestions:
Makes 9 Baklava.
Serve as dessert.