Honey and Walnut Baklava

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So I was feeling a bit adventurous recently and was frankly just trying to avoid writing my dissertation so decided to make a dessert which is one of my all time favourites.  This honey baklava is flaky, crisp and tender and I love that it isn’t overly sweet (depending on whether you have diabetes or not).  I had never tried to make baklava before this attempt, only eaten it, and to be honest, I’m pretty proud of myself!

Make sure you have plenty of time to make it as it can get a little tedious after the first few pastry sheets!  I was a bit silly and didn’t look at my filo pastry pack properly in the store so ended up only buying 6 sheets for a recipe that calls for 16oz of it so I did mine in a smaller baking tray and it still turned out amazing.  The best thing about baklava is that it gets better as time goes on and lasts for ages so if you can muster up the strength to not eat it all in one go, then it pays off!

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You will need –

16oz of filo pastry sheets, thawed according to package instructions
225g melted unsalted Butter
about 4 cups of finely chopped walnuts
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup honey
melted chocolate chips & chopped walnuts to make it look pretty

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Thaw the filo pastry sheets according to package instructions (this is best done overnight in the fridge) and then place it on the counter for 1 hour before starting anything else to bring it to room temperature.  Trim the sheets to fit your baking tray.  As I’ve already mentioned, I had way less pastry that I needed but with some clever trimming, I was able to make it go a long way!  You can trim one stack at a time then cover with a damp towel to keep from drying out.  Butter the bottom and sides of a 13×9 non-stick baking pan.

To make the honey sauce (which will need time to cool as your baklava bakes), combine 1 cup sugar, 1/2 cup honey, 2 tbsp lemon juice, and 3/4 cup water in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil over medium/high heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved, then reduce heat to medium/low and boil an additional 4 minutes without stirring.  Remove from heat and let syrup cool while preparing baklava.

To make the baklava, start by preheating the oven to 160 degrees C and then pulse the walnuts in a food processor until finely chopped.  In a medium bowl, stir together 4 cups finely chopped walnuts and 1 tsp cinnamon.  Place 10 filo sheets into the baking pan one at a time, brushing each sheet with butter once it’s in the pan before adding the next (place filo sheet into pan, brush the top with butter, place next filo sheet in pan, butter the top, etc. etc.).  Keep remaining filo sheets covered with a damp towel at all times so they don’t dry out.  Spread about 1/5 of nut mixture (about 3/4 cup) over filo dough.

Add 5 buttered sheets of filo, then another layer of nuts.  Repeat x 4.  Finish off with 10 layers of buttered filo sheets.  Brush the very top with butter.  I told you it was tedious!  Cut the pastry into 4cm wide strips, then cut diagonally to form diamond shapes.  Bake at 160 degrees C for 1 hour and 15 min or until tops are golden brown.

Remove from oven and immediately spoon the honey sauce evenly over the hot baklava (you’ll hear it sizzle).  This will ensure that it stays crisp rather than soggy.  Let baklava cool completely, uncovered and at room temperature.  The best advice I can give is to let the baklava sit 4-6 hours or overnight at room temperature for the syrup to ooze in and soften the layers.  Garnish baklava with finely chopped nuts or drizzle with melted chocolate.  Store at room temperature, covered with a tea towel for 1 to 2 weeks.

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