Baklava – a dessert served in many countries around the world, all with their own personal touch. This is a very rich sweet, and therefore not one you will indulge in frequently. I make this once a year – maybe twice, at most. It’s not a weight-loss dessert, it’s not a totally healthful dessert – it is an uplifting, and very flavoursome dessert, to enjoy and lift the spirits. Having tasted the different takes of this from several countries, I have created my own vegan version, spiced up with cinnamon, lemon and other wonderful ingredients. I have tried not to over tamper with it in terms of its original and traditional taste. For this reason, I have not chosen to sweeten it with date syrup, as this would then no longer be a baklava, but rather something richer and fruitier, and would steal the show from the fine and delicate taste of the filo layers, the lemon, and the spices – these all need to demonstrate their own little dance on your buds. I have also not over-burdened it with too much filo – just enough to know it’s there. Enjoy !
TIP : DO NOT be tempted to eat this warm – it must be fully chilled to appreciate all the taste and flavours – the main reason being that the syrup needs quite a bit of time to soak itself into the nuts between the baklava layers. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks in your refrigerator.
Serves 12 medium portions
1 cup of raw pistachio nuts
1 cup roasted pecan nuts
½ cup mixed roasted nuts of your choice
a pinch of salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp clove powder
½ cup brown sugar (I used molasses), or other dried sweetener of your choice
the zest of a lemon (optional)
- Process the roasted nuts and the raw pistachios in a food processor until medium to small in size, not crushed into a powder.
- Then transfer the nuts into a large bowl, together with the other ingredients, and set aside.
INGREDIENTS FOR THE PASTRY
400 g (14 oz) filo/phyllo pastry – I used 1½ packs Jus-Rol, which is vegan (this gave me 9 sheets, which I cut into 2 pieces, so in total I had 18 pieces)
1 cup melted vegan butter/margarine, or melted coconut oil if you prefer
(You will also need a pastry brush, for brushing on the melted butter/marge)
- Preheat your oven to 350ºF (180ºC), and grease an oven-proof dish approximately 9 x 9 inches.
- Now carefully take one filo sheet, cut it in half and place it at the base of the dish – brush your melted vegan butter on top, then add the next filo half, and brush on melted butter in the same way. Now repeat this process, until you have 6 layers of filo at the bottom of your dish.
- Next, add half the filling mixture, and gently even it out on top of the pastry, taking care not to disturb the filo too much, as it’s quite fragile.
- Now repeat step 2, so that you now have the next 6 pieces on top of your aromatic nut filling, leaving 6 pieces to use on the top. At this point, using a sharp knife or skewer, gently pierce a dozen holes or so through the pastry (this will enable the syrup to seep through, when you pour it over the top later on after baking).
- Now add the rest of the filling (although you may wish to leave a spoonful for garnishing, once it’s baked).
- Then repeat step 2 to finish off, always greasing each slice of filo in between each and every layer – don’t pierce holes through this top layer.
- Now cut your unbaked baklava into either 9 or 12 portions (3 x 3, or 3 x 4), using a very sharp knife, and cutting very slowly as you do it. Wipe the knife with a clean wet cloth after each cut, so that you don’t mess up the top layer with the filling.
- Finally, just before baking, lightly sprinkle the top of the pastry with cold water. This will prevent the pastry from curling or over-hardening.
- Place in your preheated oven for 30-35 minutes, just until slightly golden – don’t overcook this, as it won’t work well if it’s too crispy. Now, at this point, go and make your syrup (see below).
- Remove from the oven, and gently cut around the edges of the pastry with a very sharp knife, to create the little space needed for the syrup to seep through.
- Now immediately pour on the syrup, evenly distributing it all over the top. Then allow to cool for a couple of hours out of the fridge, before placing it in the fridge for at least a further 4 hours.
- Serve and enjoy !
1 cup (250 mL) maple syrup, or other liquid sweetener of your choice (eg agave syrup) -don’t be shocked by the quantity !
1½ cups (375 mL) water
1 cinnamon stick
¼ tsp crushed cardamom pods (optional)
3 Tbsp (90 mL) freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ tsp neroli (orange blossom) or rose water
- Place all the ingredients in a small saucepan, and heat up gently until the mixture slightly thickens. This may take a few minutes – do not allow it to burn.
All recipes and content © Miriam Sorrell www.mouthwateringvegan.com 2010
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