I always thought baklava was too complex to try at home. Then C found this amazing recipe in The Complete Middle East Cook Book and not only proved me wrong, but it was hands down the best baklava I’ve ever had.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
If your walnuts and almonds are whole, or not ground pretty fine, throw them in the food processor.
Mix the nuts, sugar and spices together in a bowl.
Butter the sides and bottom of a large baking dish.
Place one sheet of the fillo dough on the bottom of the baking dish and brush with melted butter. Repeat eight times.
Spread some of the nut mixture over the buttered fillo dough. Top with another sheet of fillo dough.
Top with a second sheet of fillo dough.
Spread the remaining nut mixture over butter fillo dough.
Top with the remaining nine sheets of fillo dough, making sure to butter each sheet. Brush the top with butter and using a sharp knife, cut a diamond shape and sprinkle with water to prevent the top layers from curling.
Bake on the center shelf for 30 minutes.
Then move up one shelf and cook for another 30 minutes. You'll want to keep an eye on it, if the top browns too quickly, cover with foil.
While the baklava is cooking, make the syrup. Note: we've discovered the longer the syrup sits, the better it is. We've even canned it for later.
Place the sugar, water and honey in a medium-sized pot over medium heat.
Stir until the sugar is dissolved.
Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.
Be careful! This boils quickly and the last thing you want is for the mixture to boil over. Manage your heat and let boil for 15 minutes. We found stirring continuously helps prevent boil overs.
When the baklava is done baking, spoon the syrup over the pastry. Leave it alone for several hours (this step is the hardest, but I promise it is worth it).
My opinion: This recipe takes more than the hour of baking time and makes at least 30 pieces. You might want to cut them small, unlike some treats this is best in small, completely satisfying quantities.
J fell in love with the granola at Turtle Bay when we visited Hawaii. A recent note from the general manager reminded me to try to get the recipe because while travelling to Honolulu every time J wants the granola sounds lovely, that is absolutely not going to happen. Luckily for me, Danna is super nice and got me in touch with Ceci in the Food and Beverage Department. Ceci sent the ingredients and from there I was able to cobble together the recipe below.
3 cup oats (we used Quaker)
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup sesame seeds (we went with the ones from the bulk food section)
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup maple syrup
about 3 cups tropical fruit trail mix (We used HyVee brand with papaya, pineapple, coconut, raisins and bananas, but left out the bananas)
Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine the oats and nuts. In a separate bowl, combine maple syrup, oil, and honey. Combine both mixtures and pour onto a sheet pans. Cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes to achieve an even color and keep the mixture from sticking to the bottom (you may want to consider spraying the pan with your favorite cooking spray, just in case).
Remove from oven and transfer into a large bowl. Add fruit and mix until evenly distributed.
Somehow I was more obsessed with the fresh fruit in Hawaii and missed this granola completely, but it is amazing. Good with milk as a cereal, good on yogurt, ice cream and just out of the container.