I don’t get Baklava too often, but when my mother said she learned how to make it from a friend who makes authentic Baklava, I was all ears. So, over the Holiday, we spent a couple of hours one afternoon whipping up a batch. It’s a bit of a prep and wait game with these good treats, but in the end it’s totally worth it!
As I was volunteered (and most of you know that I will take any excuse to bake, so I was okay with the involuntary volunteering!) to bring a snack to the Arkansas Sugar Bowl Watch Party we are going to later today, I thought it was a perfect time to dazzle my Southern friends with this recipe. And since these treats are a little time and labor intensive, I have been working on them throughout the day. I must say, the final product looks delectable!
Baklava isn’t traditionally vegan and is usually made with loads of buttery goodness and sugar from high heaven! So, in an effort to curb my giant sweet tooth this year (I have dubbed January ‘Hardcore January’ in an effort to kick the year off with less snacking and sweets!), I modified the recipe a bit to meet my standards.
Scrumptious Walnut Baklava
12 tbsp of Earth Balance Butter
6 Whole Cloves
3/4 Package of Phyllo Dough
3 – 3 1/2 cups of Chopped Walnuts (adding some pischatoes here is also yum!)
2 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Cardamom
1 tsp Almond Extract
1/3 cup of Water
1 1/4 cups of Agave Nectar
4 tsp Lemon Juice (fresh squeezed is best)
2 tbsp Orange Zest
2 Cinnamon Sticks
First, if your phyllo dough is frozen, pull it out and let it sit a few hours (4 or 5) to thaw. I just usually put mine in the fridge the night before and let it rest overnight and pull it out when I need it. Oh, Athens brand works great and I’m sure it’s Vegan. (most others are too)
Melt butter over low on a simmer burner for a while. After it initially melts, throw in the cloves and I typically simmer an additional 30 minutes, but you can do longer to infuse it more with cloves. Just let it melt and go do something else and come back to it later – as I said earlier, it’s a bit of a prep and wait game! Grind the walnuts in a food processor until they become a nice almost oatmeal texture (think the quick cook kind or steel oats). Pour the walnuts into a bowl and add the cinnamon, cardamom, and almond extract. Mix and set aside.
A few minutes before you put your baklava together, preheat the oven to 325. Unroll a sleeve of the phyllo dough and bring your butter mixture and walnut mixture nearby, as you’ll need both right now. Start by buttering the bottom of your pan (I use a 13×9 or the one the size larger if you want more pieces). Put 3 layers of phyllo (you’ll probably have to use two sections for a bigger pan, this is what I do) and then butter. Repeat. On the second time, add 1/2 the walnut mixture on top of the buttered sheets. Repeat this process one more time (3 sheets + butter, 3 sheets + butter then walnuts). Add 2 sheets on top of the last walnut layer, and butter. Repeat. Last, put three sheets on top and apply the remaining amount of melted butter.
Cut sheets before you put them in the oven with a very sharp knife, or they will crumple when you cut them after cookies. I sliced mine into 40 triangles.
As soon as you put this in, use a medium-sized pot and add water, agave, lemon juice, orange zest and cinnamon sticks. Simmer for 10-15 minutes (or until almost boiling) and then remove from the heat. Let cool while your baklava bakes.
Bake the baklava for 50-60 minutes (until a nice shade of golden brown). Remove from oven and pour the cooled mixture on top (start in the nooks and crannies and move to the tops). If you want to spread some chopped nuts on top as an added touch, this is the time to do that! Now, just try not to eat the entire plan (Lori)!
Nutrition Facts: Servings – 40; Per Serving – Fat 8.5g, Calories 140, Protein 2g, Carbohydrates 15 g