Brown-butter Vanilla-bean Baklava

Since I can’t be a nudist in 11 months, I tried on wedding dresses.

Me, who spends her life in jeans and flip-flops, put on numerous poofy white dresses and pranced around a store while the staff made “aww” noises.

None of the gowns spoke to me. Not one.

What did speak to me? Jessica’s recipe for baklava!


Plus, yummy noises are light years better than “aww” noises. Puh-leeeeze!

What surprised me the most was that this recipe is like… the easiest thing on the planet. Tedious, but easy.

I guarantee it!

Brown-butter Vanilla-bean Baklava – Originally from How Sweet It Is
makes one 8×8 pan

8 ounces of unsalted pecans
4 ounces of unsalted almonds
4 ounces of salted pistachios
1 Tablespoon vanilla powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 pound of phyllo dough
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted

Thaw phylo dough according to package instructions. Unroll and keep under a piece of plastic wrap topped with a damp kitchen towel (you NEED to keep the dough from drying out or else you’ll be in a world of pain. NO LIE.)

Combine nuts in a food processor, pulsing until no pieces are larger than 1/4 inch diameter. Dump in a bowl with spices, brown sugar, and vanilla powder. Toss with a fork to combine. Set aside.

Melt butter in a heavy bottomed sauce pan, stirring frequently until it begins to turn a deep golden color. This extra step gives the butter some depth and adds a hint of nuttiness to the phylo dough.

Using a pastry brush (I use a re-purposed paint brush… yep, see there’s nothing fancy-pants here about me), brush an 8×8 Pyrex baking dish with butter and lay down a layer of phylo dough. You’re going to have to trim the phylo for it to fit in the pan, so want in on a secret? If you know you’re going to consistently need 2 inches off the top, use a pizza cutter to cut the WHOLE roll of dough all at once! Serious time-saver, and you won’t need to keep juggling your brush and shears while trying not to tear the dough! Liberally brush the layer with butter and lay down another layer of phylo. What another tip? You can use one full sheet of phylo for two layers by simply folding it over on itself! Less juggling again – woohoo!

Repeat phylo-butter-phylo until you have 8 layer of dough as your base. Brush your 8th layer with butter, then sprinkle with 1/4 of the nut mixture. Using your brush, go Pollock on your nut layer and splash some butter on top. This helps the next layer of phylo to stick to the nuts. Lay down another 6 layers of phylo (always buttering in between), then another 1/4 of the nut mixture. Repeat the 6 buttered phylo layers + 1/4 nut mixture TWO more times. Top off your final nut layer with 8 layers of buttered phylo.

Too much talk, not enough schematics? Just do this:

8 layers of buttered phylo
1/4 of the nut mixture
6 layers of buttered phylo
1/4 of the nut mixture
6 layers of buttered phylo
1/4 of the nut mixture
6 layers of buttered phylo
1/4 of the nut mixture
8 layers of buttered phylo

After laying down the final layer of phylo, dump any leftover butter over the top and pop in the fridge for 30 minutes. Go make your simple syrup!

Honey Vanilla-bean Simple Syrup
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup honey
1 vanilla bean, scraped
1 cinnamon stick

Combine all ingredients together in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, and let cook for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool completely. Before drizzling, remove vanilla bean carcass and cinnamon stick.

Heat oven to 350F. Remove baklava from fridge and, using your sharpest knife, cut into pieces. I did what Jessica suggested and made 3 horizontal cuts, then cut diagonally into even pieces. Not feeling the diagonal? Do whatever you want – it’s not going to change the flavor ;)

Pop in the oven for 40 minutes (tent with foil if the top layer gets too brown), and as soon as those quad-score minutes are up, pour the simple syrup over the mega-hot baklava and let steep for at LEAST 4 hours.

You’re supposed to let it sit overnight, but who are we kidding here… I mean, I burnt like every fingerpad off just trying to get at those flaky layers as soon as it came out of the oven. Note to the impatient: USE TONGS – DUH!

Going… going…

…gone :)



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