This Middle Eastern dessert has gotten so popular in America that Costco has commercialized it and brought it into their stores! I've got to say, they definitely knew a good thing when they saw it, because these little pastry bites are nutty, crunchy, and filled with sweet goodness!
People who have experiences with phyllo sheets usually shy away from using them because of the annoying process of spreading EACH thin sheet with butter over and over and over. Don't be intimidated, this recipe just breaks the phyllo dough into sets of sheets instead of buttering each individual sheet (I'm not sure of the EXACT number but there is about 50 sheets in each package...and the traditional buttering process is so tedious they feel like a million sheets!)
Here's what sets this recipe apart from others....it has NO butter! My neighbor gets all the credit for the ingenious idea of using butter flavored non stick spray instead of the butter! This cuts the fat BIG TIME and also the prep time!
To serve these in a presentable manner, my friend Amira and her mother place each piece of baklava (after it is baked and cooled) into a cupcake paper cup. The cups mold to the diamond shape of the baklava and look very pretty when they are arranged on a platter.
I especially love these now that the fall is here because of the nutty cinnamon flavor. These hold up very nicely in the fridge and maintain they're freshness for about 10 days.
-1 package phyllo dough sheets
-3 cups walnuts
-1/2 cup sugar
-1 tablespoon cinammon
-Butter flavored non-stick cooking spray
-1 cup sugar
-1 cup water
-1 teaspoon lemon juice
*Optional: You can drizzle honey all over the baklava instead of making the syrup sauce. I usually do a mix of both.
-Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Separate phyllo sheets in half. Then separate each half into 4 smaller sets. Spray a baking sheet liberally with non-stick spray. Place first layer of sheets and spray again with non-stick spray. Repeat this process until the first 4 layers of sheets have been layed out.
-Grind the walnuts in a food processor with the sugar and cinnamon until it is a crumbly mixture. Spread them out on the phyllo sheets. Repeat the layering and spraying process for the 4 remaining sets of phyllo sheets.
-Carefully cut the baklava into diagonal shapes. This is easy to do if you cut diaganoly from the bottom left corner to the top right all the way across the baking sheet. Then when cutting linearly just cut straight down. Make sure to cut all the way down to the bottom layer of phyllo, so the syrup can reach the bottom and to make removal of the pieces easier.
-Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the top looks browned and flaky.
-While the baklava is baking, prepare the syrup sauce by heating a small sauce pan on high with the sugar and water. Stir the mixture until the sugar has dissolved. When it begins to bowl, lower the heat to low, add the lemon juice and let simmer for 5 minutes.
-Add the syrup sauce all over the baklava when it comes out of the oven. Allow dessert to cool (this is going to be tough to do!) and serve with tea!