When Nick and I were dating one of his favorite places to eat was Jason's Deli. He would always get a pastrami sandwich and baklava. Nick has occasionally suggested I make baklava for dessert but I was always intimidated by all the layers of dough and I had never seen anyone make it let alone heard of anyone make homemade baklava. Well, we got together with some good friends to play games and decided to finally try it out. We thought it would be fun to have our friends help make it with us and it was a good thing we did because another pair of hands to help handle the tissue paper thin phyllo dough is very useful (maybe even required). Well it turned out awesome and we all really enjoyed it!
Ba-kla-va: (noun) A dessert originating in the Middle East made of phyllo pastry filled with chopped nuts and soaked in honey.
1 (16 oz) pkg phyllo dough*
1 lb chopped pecans
1 c butter, melted
1 tsp cinnamon
1 c water
1 c white sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 c honey
Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9x13 in pan.
Toss nuts with cinnamon in a small bowl and set aside. Unroll phyllo dough and cover with a dampened cloth to prevent it from drying out. Place 2 sheets of dough in the pan, brush with butter, and repeat until there are 8 sheets layered. Sprinkle with 3 Tbsp nuts. Top with 2 sheets, butter, nuts, and continue. Top layer should be layered with 6-8 sheets.
Use a sharp knife and cut into diamonds or triangles. Bake for 40-50 minutes until it is golden and crisp.
Meanwhile, make sauce while baklava is baking. In a small sauce pan boil sugar and water until sugar is dissolved. Add vanilla and honey and simmer for 20 minutes on low.
When Baklava is done, remove from oven and immediately spoon sauce over it. Let it cool and then serve. Leave baklava uncovered or else it will get soggy.
*Phyllo dough can be found in the freezer section near the frozen fruit.