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Why This Recipe Works

We wanted a recipe for classic baklava featuring a crisp, flaky pastry that was light yet rich, a filling loaded with fragrant nuts and spices, and just enough assertive sweetness to pair with a Turkish coffee. To achieve this goal, we sprinkled phyllo dough with three separate layers of nuts (tasters liked a combination of almonds and walnuts) flavored with cinnamon and cloves. We brushed the phyllo layers with just enough olive oil to make them crisp and flaky, but not so much that the result was greasy. We found that cutting the baklava through rather than just scoring it before baking helped it absorb the sugar syrup. Finally, letting the baklava sit overnight before serving dramatically improved its flavor. A straight-sided traditional metal baking pan (not nonstick and not a glass baking dish) works best for making baklava. Phyllo dough is also available in larger 18 by 14-inch sheets; if using, cut them in half to make 14 by 9-inch sheets. Do not thaw the phyllo in the microwave; let it sit in the refrigerator overnight or on the counter for 4 to 5 hours. While working with the phyllo, cover the sheets with plastic wrap and then a damp dish towel to prevent drying.

Ingredients

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Sugar Syrup

1 ¼ cups (8 3/4 ounces) sugar
¾ cup water
cup honey
3 (2-inch) lemon zest strips plus 1 tablespoon juice
1 cinnamon stick
5 whole cloves
teaspoon salt

Nut Filling

1 ¾ cups slivered almonds
1 cup walnuts
2 tablespoons sugar
1 ¼ teaspoons ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
teaspoon salt

Pastry

5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound (14 by 9-inch) phyllo, thawed
Nutritional Information

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION

Per Serving (Serves 36)

  • Calories 130
  • Cholesterol 0g
  • Fat 5 g
  • Sodium 77 mg
  • Saturated 0 g
  • Carbs 18 g
  • Trans 0 g
  • Dietary Fiber 1 g
  • Monounsaturated 3 g
  • Sugar 10 g
  • Polyunsaturated 1 g
  • Protein 2 g

The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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Instructions

Makes 32 to 40 pieces

Use the nicest, most intact phyllo sheets for the bottom and top layers; use sheets with tears or ones that are smaller than the size of the pan in the middle layers, where their imperfections will go unnoticed.

1. FOR THE SUGAR SYRUP: Bring all ingredients to boil in small saucepan over medium-high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until sugar has dissolved, about 5 minutes. Transfer syrup to 2-cup liquid measuring cup and let cool completely. Discard spices and zest; set aside.

2. FOR THE NUT FILLING: Pulse almonds in food processor until very finely chopped, about 20 pulses; transfer to bowl. Pulse walnuts in food processor until very finely chopped, about 15 pulses; transfer to bowl with almonds and toss to combine. Measure out 1 tablespoon nuts and set aside for garnish. Add sugar, cinnamon, cloves, and salt to nut mixture and toss well to combine.

3. FOR THE PASTRY: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees. Lay 1 phyllo sheet in bottom of greased 13 by 9-inch baking pan and brush thoroughly with oil. Repeat with 7 more phyllo sheets, brushing each with oil (you should have total of 8 layers of phyllo).

4. Sprinkle 1 cup nut filling evenly over phyllo. Cover nut filling with 6 more phyllo sheets, brushing each with oil, then sprinkle with 1 cup nut filling. Repeat with 6 phyllo sheets, oil, and remaining 1 cup nut filling.

5. Cover nut filling with 8 more phyllo sheets, brushing each layer, except final layer, with oil. Working from center outward, use palms of your hands to compress layers and press out any air pockets. Spoon remaining oil (about 2 tablespoons) on top layer and brush to cover surface.

6. Using serrated knife with pointed tip, cut baklava into diamonds. Bake until golden and crisp, about 1½ hours, rotating pan halfway through baking. Immediately pour all but 2 tablespoons cooled syrup over cut lines (syrup will sizzle when it hits hot pan). Drizzle remaining 2 tablespoons syrup over surface. Garnish center of each piece with pinch reserved ground nuts. Let baklava cool completely in pan, about 3 hours, then cover with aluminum foil and let sit at room temperature for 8 hours before serving.