Sunday, January 1, 2012


Every Christmas for as long as I can remember my Mom has made Baklava. She's not Greek, or from any of the Mediterranean areas surrounding there, though she has visited, and she has virtually no Greek friends. But she got the recipe (and a rather challenging one at that) from a McCalls cookbook and it has always been our Christmas treat. Hers is different, in my personal opinion better, than the sticky drippy soaked in honey confections you'll find at most Greek restaurants. It's crispy and flaky, each element from the paper thin phyllo to the ground pecans and almonds to the cinnamon and orange flavors contributing their part, nothing overwhelming and all combining into the perfectly sweet, but not too sweet, bite.
1 pkg. phyllo dough
1 1/2 c. melted butter

3/4 c. white sugar
1 1/2 c. honey
2 cinnamon sticks
4 lemon slices
4 orange slices

Nut Mixture
2 c. chopped pecans
1 c. almonds- finely chopped
3/4 c. sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg

1. Preheat oven to 325. Make the syrup by combining the sugar, honey, cinnamon stick, lemon and orange slices. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Strain and cool.
2. Combine all nuts, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg in a bowl and mix well. Remove phyllo pastry leaves from the package. Place 2 sheets in a 15x10" pan and brush the tops of them with melted butter. Continue stacking the sheets, 14 in all and brushing butter on top of every other sheet. Be sure to keep unused phyllo under a damp towel to keep from drying out.

3. Sprinkle with a 1/3 of the nut mixture and spread evenly over the sheets. Add 6 more layers, brushing butter on every other sheet, and the sprinkle another 1/3 of the nut mixture over. Layer on 6 more, brushing every other with butter and top those with the last 1/3. Stack the remaining pastry on top, brushing with butter. Trim edges if necessary.
4. With a sharp knife, cut through the top layers making diagonal cuts to form diamonds. Bake for 1 hour until golden and puffy. Leave in the oven for 1 hour and then remove. Pour cooled syrup over evenly. Cut through with knife the rest of the way and then let cool.

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