I had had baklava before we traveled to Greece.
At least I THOUGHT I had had baklava. I was wrong!
I hadn’t had baklava until I had it in Rhodes, Greece. It was my first lesson in how important it is to:
- Try to learn some of the language before going to a foreign country — Seriously, even if you can speak a few phrases, or carry around a phrase book, they will so appreciate you trying! We’ve had so many great experiences because locals think it’s awesome when an American is at least respectful of their culture enough to learn at least some of their language.
- Check out villages off the typical tourist track — Although there’s always “tourist” attractions that you’ll want to put on your itinerary, don’t be afraid to go visit some spots off the beaten path.
- Don’t be afraid to talk to locals and ask them questions about their culture — People love to talk about themselves and are usually happy to share local knowledge with you, if you ask. We’ve met some amazing folks and learned so much about places we’ve visited, in all four corners of the globe, just by striking up a conversation.
Because of those three things, I was taught how to make the most amazing baklava ever! Now, I’m going to share the recipe with you.
This isn’t your typical dry fare you find at bakeries in the States, next to the cannolis and the croissants. This is honey-dripping triangles of flaky Heaven!
Fair warning though – your family is going to beg you to make this again and again. So be prepared! 😀
- 1 pound frozen phyllo sheets
- 1 cup melted butter
- 2 cups finely chopped walnuts or blanched almonds
- 2 cups sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 1/2 cups honey
- 2 cup water
- 2 tablespoon lemon juice
Thaw phyllo pastry according to package directions. Keep pastry not being used covered with clean damp dish towel or paper towels to keep the sheets from drying out. Place half of the pastry sheets in a greased 9×12-inch baking pan, one by one, brushing each sheet quickly and all over with melted butter.
Combine nuts, 1/2 cup sugar and cinnamon in a bowl; sprinkle nut and sugar mixture over buttered pastry. Place remaining sheets on top, brushing each with melted butter as you go.
IMPORTANT: Keep the layers of pastry loose while constructing your baklava. Do not press down. Pressing down will prevent your baklava from being tender and flaky.
Use a pizza cutter to cut the baklava lengthwise (the long way) into thirds. Next, cut the baklava widthwise (the short way) into fourths. Finally, cut diagonally, corner to corner along the rectangles, so you end up with 24 triangles.
Bake at 400° until brown and crisp, about 30 minutes. Keep an eye on your baklava, you don’t want to burn it.
While the pastry is baking, in a saucepan, combine the remaining 1 1/2 cups sugar, honey, water, and lemon juice; bring to a boil. Boil the baklava syrup for about 20 minutes, stirring frequently, until syrupy. Cool and pour over baked baklava.
Let stand for at least 15 minutes before serving.