Perhaps one of the best known and popular Greek desserts is Baklava. Greeks have made & enjoyed Baklava for ages and it’s popularity is further evidenced by versions of Baklava appearing in Turkish, Middle-Eastern and Persian cuisines.
Baklava is essentially made of layers of phyllo sandwiching a nut and spice mixture in the middle. A syrup is then poured over the baked Baklava to offer up a glossy texture on the palate and contrasted by the crunch of the phyllo and nut mixture.
The most common Baklava made by Greeks contains walnuts but pistachios and almonds can make an appearance and here I use all three in the nut and spice mixture.
A Greek bakery could not survive without an offering of Baklava in their patisserie offerings. Some versions of Greek Baklava are drowned (in my opinion) with the finishing syrup and I prefer the ” not too much, not too little but juuuust the right amount” of syrup.
Chocolate Baklava is offered up by better Greek bakeries. One of Greece’s pre-eminent bakeries, Xatzi (Hatzi) produces a wonderful Chocolate Baklava but I’ve trimmed the size to a smaller, bite-sized triangle that will allow your appetite to explore the other treats on offer at the Greek dessert table.
Before I get to the recipe, a quick reminder for those sheepish on handling phyllo pastry:
- Buy frozen phyllo from a store that has a high turnover of phyllo (equals fresh) from a Greek or Middle-eastern store.
- Thaw your phyllo overnight in the fridge prior to use and allow it to come to room temperature (for 15 minutes) before using.
- Place a damp towel over the phyllo while assembling your dish and be organized, work quick.
- Melted clarified butter is my preferred treatment for brushing phyllo.
Chocolate Baklava (ÎœÏ€Î±ÎºÎ»Î±Î²Î¬Ï‚ Î£Î¿ÎºÎ¿Î»Î¬Ï„Î±Ï‚)
1 package of frozen phyllo (thawed overnight in fridge)
1 cup of walnuts
1 cup of blanched almonds
1 cup of blanched pistachios
1 cup of coarse bread crumbs
3 Tbsp. of sugar
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 egg white
2 sticks of melted unsalted butter, clarified
1/4 cup olive oil (reduces the prospect of butter burning)
1/2 cup honey
1 1/2 cups of sugar
1 1/2 cups of water
1 cinnamon stick
4-5 whole cloves
100 gr. of semi-sweet chocolate
100 gr. of unsalted room temp. butter
- In a food processor, pulse your walnuts, almonds, pistachios and bread crumbs into a coarse ground. Empty into a bowl and add your ground cinnamon and clove, sugar and egg white and mix to bind all the ingredients. Set aside. In a small saucepan, melt your clarified butter with the olive oil and keep warm.
- Roll out your phyllo on your work surface and vertically dissect in half. Now cut each half into three, leaving you with six long strips of phyllo sheets.
- Place a strip on phyllo on the board, paint some butter with a brush and lay a second strip of phyllo and again paint in with butter. Place a heaping Tbsp. of the nut filling at the bottom the strip and fold the side in over the filling and then starting from the bottom, fold into a triangle shape as shown (diagram).
- Place on a baking sheet that’s been brushed with butter and continue to form your triangular pockets of Baklava.
- Pre-heat your oven to 325F (middle rack) and butter the tops of your Baklava triangles. Bake for 45 to 60 minutes or until the tops are golden-brown. Allow to cool.
- Make your syrup by adding the honey, water, sugar, cinnamon stick and wholes in a medium pot and bring to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes and then pour over the cooled Baklava triangles. After 60 minutes, carefully flip the Baklava and allow the other half of the triangles to soak up the syrup. Place the Baklava triangles on a wired tray to drain.
- To make the chocolate coating, set up a double-boiler on your stove top and ensure the water is on a very low simmer. Add your chocolate and butter and gently whisk until incorporated and melted.
- Use some wooden souvlaki skewers to assist in coating your baklava with chocolate. Carefully secure each triangle with a skewer and place the triangle in the melted chocolate and twirl in the chocolate until coated. You may then stick the skewer into a florist’s oasis to allow the Chocolate Baklavas to dry.
- Once cooled, place in a plastic-wrap lined container and store in a cool dry place or even a freezer. Good for a month (if they last that long).
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