It seems that everyone who loves baklava has their own way to make it, and theirs just happens to be the best. Chef Einat Admony might have an actual claim to the title. She shares her mother's recipe in Balaboosta: Bold Mediterranean Recipes To Feed The People You Love, calling for peanuts, pistachios and walnuts as filling, and rosewater syrup to pour over. The result is crisp, layered, and not too sweet.
Tips & Tweaks: If you don't have a pastry brush, get one before attempting to smear liquid fat over paper-thin sheets of pastry. It makes the process that much faster and easier, we promise. Also, the more butter you use, the better. Dry phyllo = burnt phyllo.
Excerpted from Balaboosta by Einat Admony (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2013. Photographs by Quentin Bacon.
- Rose Syrup
- 1 cup water
- 2 cups sugar
- 1/4 cup honey
- One 3-inch strip orange zest
- 1 cardamom pod
- 1/4 teaspoon rose water
- 6 tablespoons (3⁄4 stick) unsalted butter, melted
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 2 cups raw unsalted peanuts (about 8 ounces)
- 2 cups pistachios (about 8 ounces)
- 2 cups walnuts (about 8 ounces)
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon rose water
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom (seeds from about 2 pods)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- One 16-ounce package frozen phyllo dough, thawed
For the Syrup: Combine the water, sugar, honey, orange zest, and cardamom pod in a medium saucepan. Simmer over low heat until the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from the heat, stir in the rose water, and then discard the orange zest and cardamom pod. Transfer the syrup to an airtight container and chill in the refrigerator. The syrup can be made 1 day in advance.
For the Baklava: Line a 9-by-13-inch baking sheet with parchment paper.
Stir together the butter and oil in a large bowl. Keep it close to your work area.
Combine the nuts, powdered sugar, rose water, cardamom, and cinnamon in a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped and almost pasty.
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Place one sheet of phyllo dough on the lined baking sheet. (Keep the unused sheets of phyllo covered with a damp towel as you work.) Trim off the ends if necessary or simply fold it over to fit the tray. Generously, and I mean generously, brush the top of the phyllo dough with the butter mixture. Place another single layer on top and brush it again. Repeat the process until you have 8 layers of buttery phyllo dough.
Spread the entire nut mixture on top and firmly pack it down. Place another single layer of phyllo dough on top and brush it with the butter mixture. Repeat the process until you have another 8 layers with the top layer brushed generously.
Cut the baklava into small diamonds or squares about 2 inches square using a very sharp knife. Lay a sheet of parchment paper on top and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the parchment paper and bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes.
To Serve: Remove from the oven and immediately pour the chilled rose syrup over the baklava, allowing the syrup to flow into all the crevices. Let it cool completely before serving.