Sweet Baklava

Baklava is a rich, sweet pastry made of layers of filo pastry. It’s usually filled with chopped nuts and sweetened with syrup or honey.

Baklava is a traditional Greek delicacy. I was served one of those honeyed baklava back in 2006 during a visit to a lecturer’s house, and I have to say, it’s a delicacy that one won’t easily forget. It’s rich and melt in the mouth kind of pastry, and once you have a bite of it, you would want more.

Here’s a typical recipe for baklava:

For the baklava:

* 1 kg of chopped nuts (almonds, walnuts, or pistachios are best, or use a combination of them)

* 1 kg of phyllo dough

* 1 cup of butter, melted

* 1/3 cup of sugar

* 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon

* 1/3 teaspoon of ground cloves

For the syrup:

* 1 cup of water

* 1 cup of sugar

* 1/2 cup of honey

* 2 tablespoons of lemon juice

* 1 cinnamon stick

* Finely ground pistachios for garnish (optional)

Lightly grease a 9×13 pan and set the oven to 350°F.

Thaw the phyllo dough according to manufacturer’s directions (this may take overnight). When thawed, roll out the dough and cut the dough in half so the sheets will fit in the pan. Cover with a damp towel to keep it from drying out.

Process the nuts until in small, even sized pieces. Combine with sugar, cinnamon, and cloves. In a separate bowl, melt the butter in the microwave.

Place a sheet of phyllo dough into the pan. Using a pastry brush, brush the phyllo sheet with melted butter. Repeat 7 more times until it is 8 sheets thick, each sheet being “painted” with the butter.

Spoon on a thin layer of the nut mixture. Cover with two more sheets of phyllo, brushing each one with butter. Continue to repeat the nut mixture and two buttered sheets of phyllo until the nut mixture is all used up. The top layer should be 8 phyllo sheets thick, each sheet being individually buttered. Do not worry if the sheets crinkle up a bit, it will just add more texture.

Cut into 24 equal sized squares using a sharp knife. Bake at 350°F for 30-35 minutes or until lightly golden brown, and edges appear slightly crisp.

While baking, make the syrup. Combine the cinnamon stick, sugar, lemon juice, honey, and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce to medium low heat and let simmer for 7 minutes and slightly thickened. Remove the cinnamon stick and allow to cool.

Spoon the cooled syrup over the hot baklava and let cool for at least 4 hours. Garnish with some finely crushed pistachios. (optional)

Want a good book to accompany those sweet baklava? Well, no problem, I happen to know one book that will accompany these treat perfectly.

‘Sweet Baklava’ by Debbie Mayne will just do the trick. Trust me, the book is as sweet as the baklava itself. It’s heartwarming and have a lot of family values. While the book does not leave you breathless out of anticipation, it will bring smile to your face nevertheless. There’s so much quirks and sweet, innocent love interwoven in the story, enhancing the already rich cultural background that’s portrayed in the story. I rate this book 4 out of 5 stars. It’s a rather satisfying book. Almost as satisfying as eating baklava itself. More infos on this book, please click here.

I received this digital ARC from Abingdon Press via Netgalley. I was not required to give a positive review for it, and I was also not compensated in any ways to write this review.

From the back of the book:

Paula Andrews has finally found her niche in life, with only one thing missing—true love. When Nick, the heartthrob of her youth, returns home on military leave, she sees that he has no desire to join his family in the Greek community where the men work on the sponge docks. However, without each other, their lives seem incomplete. Is it possible for them to rekindle what they once had?

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