Honey-almond phyllo pastry

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PREP TIME

60 min

Makes

60 squares, 1-1/4 inches (3 cm)

* PLUS Cooking time: 30 minutes, Baking Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 cups honey
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup butter , or margarine
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups chopped blanched almonds , toasted
  • 1 cup toasted ground sesame seeds
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • pinch cloves
  • 12 sheets phyllo pastry , about 3/4 454-g box

Instructions

  • To make syrup, place honey, water, 1 cup sugar, lemon juice and peel, vanilla and cinnamon sticks in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, uncovered, over high heat. Then, reduce heat to medium so syrup boils gently. Skim off and discard any foam that forms on surface. Boil gently until syrup spins a thread when spoon is lifted from pan or temperature reaches 230F (110C) on a candy thermometer, from 30 to 40 minutes. No stirring is required. Immediately take pan off heat and cover to keep warm.
  • In a small saucepan set over low heat, melt butter with oil. (In the Test Kitchen, we used 1/3 cup each of butter and oil.) In another bowl, stir chopped almonds with sesame seeds, 2/3 cup sugar and spices. Unroll phyllo pastry and count out 12 sheets, leaving them in a stack. Place remainder back in package and refrigerate or freeze. With a very sharp knife, cut stack in half crosswise. You now have 24 sheets approximately 7-1/4×12-1/2 inches (18×31 cm). Place plastic wrap over top.
  • To assemble pastry, lightly oil a 9×13-inch (23×33-cm) pan or coat with cooking spray. Count out 9 phyllo sheets and cover remainder. Brushing every other sheet with butter mixture, fit into pan so the whole bottom is covered, overlapping as needed. Top with 2 unbuttered sheets. Divide almond mixture into thirds, each about 1-1/4 cups. Sprinkle a third over pastry in pan. Add 2 more unbuttered sheets. Sprinkle with another third of almond mixture. Again top with another 2 unbuttered sheets and last of almond mixture. With remaining 9 sheets, brush every other sheet with butter mixture and fit into pan. Lightly brush top with butter mixture.
  • To bake, preheat oven to 350F (180C). Cut diamond shapes or squares into pastry by using a ruler as a guide for straight lines. Use a very sharp knife and be sure to cut right through to the bottom, spacing cuts about 1-1/4 inches (3 cm) apart. Bake in centre of preheated 350F (180C) oven until golden, about 45 minutes.
  • When golden, remove pastry from oven and place on a rack to cool. Remove cinnamon sticks from warm syrup. Pour all of syrup evenly over hot pastry. As pastry cools, syrup will thicken and be absorbed. Serve each piece lightly dusted with icing sugar. Baklava will keep well, covered and refrigerated, for several days. Or freeze for up to 1 month.

Nutrition (per serving)

  • Calories
  • 124,
  • Protein
  • 1.3 g,
  • Carbohydrates
  • 18 g,
  • Fat
  • 5.7 g,

Each serving of this baklava pastry is drenched in honey syrup with crunchy almonds encased in layers of paper-thin phyllo. Try using orange blossom, thyme or wildflower honey for an intriguing taste in this Hanukkah favorite that we adapted from To Life! (Culture Concepts), a cookbook by Thelma Barer-Stein, Esther Schwartz and Risa Vandersluis. They recommend making this delicious but time-consuming dessert ahead of time and freezing.

Chatelaine tip

Phyllo, tissue-thin layers of melt-in-your-mouth pastry, is sold in most supermarkets and Middle Eastern food shops. Keep phyllo refrigerated until ready to use. If frozen, thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Once unwrapped, it dries out quickly. To prevent phyllo from drying out while you prepare a recipe, cover unused pieces with a piece of plastic wrap and barely damp towel.