Despite being one of the best-known desserts of the region, baklava is a slightly tricky recipe that requires time and precision. But rest assured, the homemade version is worth the effort. At La Boîte, we stock a smoked cinnamon I love using in baklava because it keeps the dish from being overly sweet, but any quality ground cinnamon will work. If you like, you can garnish it with very finely chopped pistachios and walnuts.
For the Syrup
- 1 cup (200 grams) sugar
- 1/2 cup (170 grams) honey
- 2 tablespoons (30 grams) freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon (1 gram) 1 tablespoon loosely packed dried rose petals
- 5 cardamom pods
For the Baklava
- 1 pound (4 sticks or 454 grams) unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon (6 grams) ground ginger
- 8 ounces (225 grams) hazelnuts
- 8 ounces (225 grams) walnuts
- 1 tablespoon (5 grams) ground smoked cinnamon or regular cinnamon
- 1 16-ounce package frozen phyllo dough (9 × 13- or 14-inch sheets), thawed according to the package directions
Make the syrup:
- In a small saucepan, combine ¾ cup (160 grams) water, the sugar, honey, lemon juice, rose petals, and cardamom. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally to help dissolve the sugar. Reduce the heat so the mixture simmers and cook, undisturbed, for 4 minutes.
- Strain the syrup through a fine-mesh sieve and discard the spices. Let the syrup cool completely. (The syrup must be completely cooled or the baklava will have a soggy, not crisp, final texture.)
Make the baklava:
- In a small saucepan, combine the butter and ginger and melt over low heat.
- Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line the bottom of a 9 × 13-inch baking dish with parchment paper. Brush a thin layer of the butter mixture all over the inside of the pan.
- In a food processor, pulse the hazelnuts just until coarsely ground. Transfer to a large bowl. Repeat with the walnuts. Add the cinnamon to the nuts and stir to combine.
- Remove the phyllo from the package and count the sheets— there should be 36 to 40, which will determine how many layers you’ll get. If the sheets are 14 inches long, trim them to fit the dish. Put 1 sheet on a clean work surface and stack the rest, keeping them covered with a slightly damp towel. Brush the sheet with a thin layer of the spiced butter and lay in the prepared pan. Repeat twice more for a total of 3 buttered sheets stacked in the pan. Sprinkle ¼ cup (30 grams) of the nut mixture evenly over the top.
- Continue making layers with the remaining phyllo and nut mixture, buttering 3 sheets and topping with ¼ cup (30 grams) of filling for each layer. Finish with a final layer of 3 sheets of buttered phyllo. Brush the top with the remaining spiced butter.
- Using a very sharp knife, cut the baklava the long way into 6 strips that are each 1½ inches wide. Cut another set of 1½-inch-wide strips at a 45-degree angle from the first to make diamonds.
- Bake until the top is a deep golden brown, 1 hour 10 minutes to 1 hour 20 minutes. Transfer the dish to a wire rack and immediately drizzle all of the cooled syrup evenly over the hot baklava—it should sizzle. Leave the baklava to cool completely, uncovered, at least 4 hours. Serve at room temperature.