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.
A dear friend, S, makes the most amazing desserts, ever. I’m not the best baker, which means I rely on my friends to make these decadent treats. Turns out not only is S an amazing dessert chef, but she’s savvy too. This dish tastes like a million dollars, but is really easy to make. Thank you, S, for sharing this with me!
3 (8 ounce) packages reduced fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 (8 ounce) cans crescent roll dough (store brand is fine!)
1/2 cup melted butter (key here is melted!)
1/2 cup white sugar (for topping)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup sliced almonds (more or less depending on taste. These are to sprinkle on top.)
drizzle of honey (this is what makes it a Sopapilla cheesecake!)
Preheat an oven to 350 degrees. Beat the cream cheese with the sugar and the vanilla extract in a bowl until smooth. Unroll the cans of crescent roll dough, and use a rolling-pin (gently!) to shape the each piece into 9×13 inch rectangles. Press one piece into the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking dish. Evenly spread the cream cheese mixture into the baking dish, then cover with the remaining piece of crescent dough. Drizzle the melted butter evenly over the top of the cheesecake. Stir the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar together with the cinnamon in a small bowl, and sprinkle over the cheesecake along with the almonds. Bake in the preheated oven until the crescent dough has puffed and turned golden brown, about 45 minutes. Drizzle with honey while still warm. Cool completely in the pan before cutting into 12 squares. She adapted the recipe from this one on All Recipes.
This dish is sweet without being too sweet. Crunchy and flaky and creamy. It’s really hard to eat just on square. Next time you’re invited to a BBQ or a picnic bring this with you. Everyone will love it. I promise.