Sunday, April 28, 2013

My Big Fat Greek Baklava


Baklava Parcels I still had some phyllo dough from my Bastilla adventure last week. So before the remaining phyllo dries out, I decided to attempt to make baklava. This was perfect because I bought walnuts for some muffins last week (a topic for another post) and still had about a half a cup of almonds left.

Baklava is my favorite Greek dessert or afternoon snack. It is composed of layers of buttered phyllo dough, filled with nuts, and topped with syrup or honey. It is very decadent and great with Greek coffee. During Greek Festivals, we often end our visit with coffee, medium sweet and baklava; the times that we don’t – they have ran out.

After my experience with handling phyllo last week, I felt more confident with handling the fine dough. I still need more experience and this would be a good opportunity to do so. However, I don’t want to make a full 9 by 9 inch tray of baklava. Again, it’s only the two of us, and I was not planning to go to the office this week. The office is where I usually I bring extra sweets – it’s gone within an hour.

I found a recipe in the food Network site for a Simple Baklava by Giada de Laurentis. She uses phyllo parcels which I think is rather elegant. I used that as a starting point. This recipe also uses a mini-muffin tin, so that is an added bonus. I love working with my mini-muffin tin.

Given that, I do not have the apricots nor breadcrumbs that her recipe calls for. So, I consulted a Greek cookbook, which we bought in one of these festivals.

I also opted to include the traditional syrup that is used as a topping. I used the ingredients from the Greek cookbook and just experimented on the proportions.

Verdict:

The finished product was delicious and tasted like the baklavas we’ve had in the past. Instead of a Big Fat Baklava, I ended up with a Petite Baklava Bite, but it's yummy and more mindful of portion size. Each parcel only had about 2 teaspoons of the nut mixture so it is healthy, but not too excessive.

The parcels may have too much phyllo. I may just use 4 sheets next time, and instead of following Giada’s instructions on how to divide the phyllo (Cut lengthwise into 4 pieces and widthwise into 3 pieces), I may cut it 4 x 4 length and width or in 3” x 3” pieces

For a more decadent feel, it needs more nuts. I think I goofed on the proportions on my first attempt (most likely, because I eliminated the apricots and breadcrumbs). Next time I will need to add another 1/4 cup of nuts.

Lastly, as a simpler variation, I may just use confectioners’ sugar and cinnamon as a topping. This will be much easier to make than the syrup and perhaps less cleaning.

Unfortunately, I was not able to take pictures of the process, only the finished product. I was concentrating too much, especially the layering and cutting of the phyllo . Next time, and there will be one, more pictures will be taken. I think the pictures will be helpful.

Baklava up-close



Mad Gourmet’s Simple Baklava Parcels
Ingredients

Baklava
·       2 Tablespoons almonds, slivered
·       1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp walnuts, finely chopped (I did not have a food processor so I used a Ziploc bag and a meat tenderizer)
·       1 Tablespoon sugar
·       3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
·       1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
·       Pinch of salt
·       1 /2 stick butter, melted, divided
·       1 1/2 Tablespoons honey
·       6 sheets phyllo dough

Syrup
·       1/4 cup sugar
·       1/4 cup water
·       1/4 teaspoon vanilla
·       1/4 teaspoon lemon rind, grated


Equipment: Mini-muffin tin

Directions:

1.     Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2.     Place the sliced almonds, walnuts, sugar, cinnamon, ground cloves, and salt in a bowl and mix thoroughly.
3.     Add 1 tablespoon of the melted butter and the honey and stir to combine.
4.     On a dry work surface place 1 sheet of phyllo. Using a pastry brush and the remaining melted butter, lightly cover the entire sheet of phyllo with melted butter. Cover the first sheet with a second sheet of phyllo and brush with melted butter. Continue until there is a stack of 6 sheets of phyllo.
5.     Cut the stacked phyllo rectangle into 12 equal pieces (Cut lengthwise into 4 pieces and widthwise into 3 pieces. This will end up into a rectangular shape – see my Verdict)
6.     Carefully press each cut piece of phyllo into the mini-muffin tin cups. Press 2 teaspoons of the nut mixture into each of the phyllo cups.
7.     Gather the ends of each of the phyllo squares and tuck to make a sachet shape (Sorry, here’s where a picture may come in handy).
8.     Continue shaping the remaining sachets in the other mini-muffin tin.
9.     Bake until the edges of the phyllo are golden, about 20 to 25 minutes.
10.  While baklava is baking, combine sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Stir in honey, vanilla and lemon zest, reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes.
11.  When ready, remove the baklava from the oven and immediately spoon the syrup over it.
12.  Let cool completely before serving. Store uncovered.


Postscript: 

I should have made 24 pieces. After almost 24 hours, there is only one piece left. That is what I consider a success!

Kali Orexi! (A Good Appetite)

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