Adapted from a recipe in Flavorful: 150 Recipes in All-Time Favorite Flavors (HMH, 2015) by Tish Boyle.
Baklava can be really, really sweet, but this version won’t send you into sugar shock. Greek-style baklava is made with lots of honey, while Turkish baklava uses a lemony sugar syrup to moisten the layers of baked phyllo and nuts. I prefer the Turkish kind, so I use a lemon syrup (flavored with a little honey) in my recipe. I also added a touch of orange blossom water, which adds a sweet floral note that complements the pistachios and walnuts so well, but orange zest is a good substitute.
Makes 16 servings
- 1 1/2 cups (178 grams) natural unsalted shelled pistachios
- 1 1/2 cups (150 grams) walnuts
- ¼ cup firmly packed (54 grams) light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 ¾ cups (350 grams) granulated sugar
- ¾ cup (177 grams) water
- 3 tablespoons (63 grams) mild honey
- 1 tablespoon (15 grams) lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon orange blossom water or finely grated orange zest
- 20 (9 x 14 inch) sheets (227 g/8 oz) phyllo dough
- 14 tablespoons (197 grams) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
Make the filling:
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Scatter the pistachios on a baking sheet and toast until just fragrant, about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool. Place the walnuts on a baking sheet and toast until lightly browned and fragrant, about 7 minutes. Cool both types of nuts completely. Leave the oven on.
- Place the pistachios in the bowl of a food processor and process until most of the nuts are finely chopped (but not completely ground), with a few larger pieces here and there. Transfer 2 tablespoons of the pistachios to a small bowl and set aside to garnish the top of the dessert. Put the remaining pistachios in a large bowl.
- Place the walnuts in the bowl of the food processor and process until most of the nuts are finely chopped (but not completely ground), with a few larger pieces here and there. Add the walnuts to the pistachios in the bowl. Add the brown sugar, cinnamon and cloves and stir well to combine. Set the filling aside.
Make the syrup:
- In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, water, honey and lemon juice and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar is dissolved. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes more, until the syrup is slightly thickened. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the orange blossom water or zest.
Assemble the Baklava:
- Unwrap the phyllo dough and place it on a work surface. Cover the phyllo dough with plastic wrap, then top with a damp tea towel (this will prevent the dough from drying out).
- Place the butter in a glass measure and microwave on 50 percent power until melted, about 2 minutes. Coat the bottom and sides of a 9-inch square baking pan with some of the melted butter. Uncover the phyllo dough and, using a sharp chef’s knife, cut the stack into 9-inch squares. Peel one of the squares off the stack and carefully place it in the bottom of the prepared pan. (Immediately recover the phyllo stack with the plastic wrap and tea towel each time you remove a sheet.) Brush the dough sheet in the pan with melted butter and place another phyllo sheet on top. Brush the sheet with butter. Repeat until you have layered 7 sheets of buttered phyllo dough in the pan. Sprinkle one-third (about 1 cup) of the nut filling over the top sheet of phyllo and, using a small offset metal spatula or the back of a spoon, spread it into an even layer. Top with three more sheets of phyllo dough, brushing each with melted butter after they have been placed in the pan. Sprinkle another third of the nut filling on top and spread it into an even layer. Top with three more phyllo sheets, brushing them again with melted butter. Top with the remaining nut mixture, spreading it evenly in the pan. Top with another 7 layers of phyllo dough, brushing each sheet with butter. Using a sharp knife, cut the Baklava into 16 squares. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown. Place the pan on a wire rack and pour the Soaking Syrup over it, covering it completely. Garnish the top with the reserved chopped pistachios and cool until just warm, about 15 minutes, before serving.