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Recipe: Baklava

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SERVES:
makes approx. 40 pieces

INGREDIENTS:

one box phyllo dough (see procedure and hints)
2 sticks unsalted butter
2 cups coarsely ground walnuts (small ground...not too big)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves

1 cup water
3/4 cup white sugar

3/4 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla extract

PROCEDURE:

Defrost one box of phyllo dough overnight in the fridge.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, lightly butter one 9 x 13-inch baking dish and melt 2 sticks of unsalted butter.

Use a mixing bowl to combine 2 cups of coarsely ground walnuts with 1 tsp ground cinnamon and 1/8 tsp each of ground nutmeg and ground cloves.

Then place one sheet of phyllo dough into the buttered baking dish and generously brush that with some of the melted butter.
Repeat that process until you have 10 buttered layers of phyllo.

Add half of the chopped walnuts to that and then repeat the layering of the phyllo and melted butter for 4 more layers.

Then add the rest of the walnuts and repeat the layering of phyllo and butter for 6 final layers.

Use a sharp knife to slowly cut the baklava into 1 - 2 inch squares (holding the top layers in place as you go) and then place the baking dish onto the center rack of the preheated oven.

While that's baking use a pot on the stovetop to combine 1 cup of water with 3/4 cup white sugar, bring that to a boil and let it simmer along for 10 minutes.

At that point, add 3/4 cup honey and 1 tsp of vanilla extract and let that gently simmer along for another 10 minutes, being careful not to let it boil over, and turn the heat off.

The baklava is going to take around 30 - 35 minutes to bake and then, while it's still nice and hot, slowly and evenly pour the honey mixture over the baklava and let it cool down to room temperature.

HINTS:

If the sheets of phyllo are too big for the baking dish, cut off the desired amount before beginning and, if the sheets are too small, overlap smaller sheets a bit as you're building the layers.

You may not need the whole box of phyllo. Just roll, tightly seal and refreeze the remaining phyllo.

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