Tis the season Folks; for desserts that is!!
I love Mediterranean food, especially Greek. I think in the past couple weeks I’ve managed to eat Greek, Mexican, Italian (of course), Thai, and Afghani food. Sidebar- I’ve never tried Afghani food before this past week, and it’s really good! It really doesn’t surprise me that I have decided to make this dessert for the holidays; regardless of the occasion, my food philosophy is the more culture the better. Well, that, and always dark chocolate over milk when the opportunity presents. But getting back to international food-ing, eating foods from other countries is truly the best way to begin to experience new cultures. For those of you who know me, I am in LOVE with traveling, and one of my absolutely favorite parts is experiencing the new culture on the gastronomic level!
Back to point, I decided to make Baklava for the holidays! YAY! I used the Allrecipes.com as a guideline – it’s really putting it together with your own style that makes it delicious; I layer the pistachio/phyllo dough/butter combination more than the recipe calls for.
To be honest, I kinda dread making Baklava; and it’s for the sake for my little fingers! Apparently, trying to find unsalted and SHELLED roasted pistachios is like trying to find a parking space at the mall, the week before christmas! Shelled and salted is all the plenty, but unfortunately, I continue to find myself shelling about 2 pounds of pistachios by hand. (Think about how raw my poor little thumbkins are right now!) For a pound of shelled nuts, the equivalent is about 2lbs of unshelled nuts.
Most of the recipes say that food processors and your nuts shouldn’t mix… well, that’s hogwash. The trick is to grind the pistachios in small batches so that it won’t continue to grind down into powder, once they optimal cumb-age is reached. A nice variety of pieces to crumb is what you want!
Set yourself up with damp towels so that your phyllo dough won’t dry out; get a few layers for the base of the Baklava and then start putting the pistachios in there! I do about 4 tbsp of nuts, then 2 layers of phyllo dough, butter and repeat.
Once it’s baked and you’re drooling because your kitchen smells LIKE HEAVEN, pour the honey-water-sugar syrup over the baklava. Don’t wait for it to cool, do it fresh out of the oven! The key is to NOT cut the layers completely through before you put it in the oven, so the juices absorb into the layers, rather than making it to the bottom of the pan.
If you can, wait for it to cool then devour :)! It’s more delicious than most of the baklava I’ve had in any restaurant, but not to brag.
Happy and healthy holidays to everyone, with love from the TypeAbaker! And happy baking!