The word baklava means “many leaves”. I have always loved this Middle Eastern treat, but was hesitant to make it. A few weeks ago I did a review of a Middle Eastern cookbook and made the baklava rolo and ended up making a small pan of traditional baklava as well. It wasn’t very difficult and my family loved it.
At that point, I had decided that a pecan pie-like baklava might be a good idea and when this 37 Cooks challenge became available I jumped at a chance to be creative with The Spice House spices. In the past, I’ve ordered several times from this company and love their attention to detail and their fast service. In addition to the Maple Extract and Cake Spice mix, I ordered a few other items – I need to add that their Asian Flavors Gift Box spice collection is one of the most flavorful spice collections I have tried to date. I have used those spices a great deal in my savory cooking.
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1/4 teaspoon of The Spice House Maple Flavoring
3 cups of chopped pecans
2/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons of maple syrup
1 tablespoon of The Spice House Cake Spice
1 pound (about 24 sheets) phyllo dough
About 1 cup (2 sticks) melted butter
1. To make the syrup: Stir the sugar, water, and maple flavoring in a small sauce pan over low heat until the sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Stop stirring, increase the heat to medium, and cook until the mixture is slightly syrupy, about 10 minutes. Let cool.
2. To make the filling: Combine all the filling ingredients in a food processor – and pulse roughly five times – until the mixture is finely chopped.
3. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 13-by-9-inch baking pan.
4. Place a sheet of phyllo in the prepared pan and lightly brush with butter. Repeat with 2 more sheets. Spread about a 1/4 cup of the mixture on top of the sheets. Repeat this step roughly 4 times until you have reached about a half inch from the top of the pan. The top should have two sheets of phyllo lightly brushed with butter. Trim any overhanging edges.
5. Using a sharp knife, cut 6 equal lengthwise strips (about 1 3/4 inches wide) through the top layer of pastry. Make 1 1/2-inch-wide diagonal cuts across the strips to form diamond shapes.
6. Just before baking, lightly sprinkle the top of the pastry with cold water. This inhibits the pastry from curling. Bake for 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 300°F and bake until golden brown, about 15 additional minutes.
7. Cut through the scored lines. Drizzle the cooled syrup slowly over the hot baklava and let cool for at least 4 hours. Cover and store at room temperature for up to 1 week. If the baklava dries out while being stored, drizzle with a little additional hot syrup.