Baklava is a traditionally greek dessert of rich layers of filo pastry, chopped nuts and drizzled heavily with a honey syrup. While it can have the appearance of a recipe fit only for an experienced chef- it's amazingly simple to prepare.
This recipe isn't particularly cheap, but the light flaky layers of pastry around the cinnamon spiced nuts and then enveloped in a honey glaze sauce is a decadent treat for special occasions.
1 (16 ounce) package phyllo dough
1 pound chopped nuts (4 cups) (Walnuts, Pecans, Pistachios, etc)
1 cup butter, melted
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup water
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup honey
In a medium saucepan combine sugar and water over medium heat until sugar is melted. Bring to a boil, add vanilla and honey. Bring to a boil, immediately reduce heat, simmer for about 20 minutes. Remove from heat, Cool. Refrigerate the honey syrup until needed.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C)
Lightly butter the bottoms and sides of a 9x13 glass baking dish. In a medium size bowl combine chopped nuts and cinnamon, tossing gently to coat. Set aside.
Carefully Unroll phyllo dough and place it on a damp paper towel. Cover phyllo with a dampened cloth or paper towel to prevent it from drying out while you work.
Place two sheets of phyllo dough in pan, butter thoroughly using a pastry brush. Add 2 more sheets of dough, butter, Repeat until you have 8 sheets layered.
Sprinkle a few tablespoons of cinnamon/nut mixture on top of the buttered phyllo dough layers. Top with two sheets of dough, then butter generously, add more nuts, layering as you go.
The top layer should be about 6 - 8 sheets deep.
Using a sharp knife cut into diamond or square shapes all the way to the bottom of the pan. The easiest way is to cut into 4 long rows, then make diagonal cuts.
Bake for about 50 minutes until baklava is golden and crisp.
Remove baklava from oven and immediately spoon sauce over it. Let cool. Serve in cupcake papers. This freezes quite well. Avoid covering it if left out or it will become soggy and the pastry will lose it's crispness & flakiness.