Here at la cocina kitchen we are excitingly starting the week with a truly delicious sweet treat by one of my closest friends Marnely Rodriguez from cooking with books.
I don't even know how to introduce her, she is crazy by default (good happy crazy), funny (she should have her own stand up comedy show), talkative (talks like theres no tomorrow), pastry chef (runs in her genes), great writer (types like a 1960 secretary...NON STOP). Marnely is just a great friend, writer and pastry chef that pushed me start my blog, so for me is a true honor to have her do la cocina kitchen's first guest post ever.
I hope you all enjoy it and be sure to visit her awesome blog and then come back here for more.
_________________Hello La Cocina Kitchen readers! As you know, I'm Nelly from over at Cooking with Books, almost like La Cocina Kitchen's sister! Francys and I have been friends for the past 7 years and our love of food is what has kept us together, cause God knows we've had our ups and downs! I came over here to share with you one of my favorite and very indulgent desserts: Baklava.
A sweet pastry made of delicate fillo sheets, melted clarified butter, nuts and sugar, a tiny piece of this will satisfy your sweet tooth perfectly. A great end to any meal, it's also a nice treat to bring along to dinner parties and get togethers (just be cautions of nut/gluten allergies).
Do I recommend you make your own fillo dough? No. Seriously, who does that? Raise your hand. If you do, than email me and I will send you praise and admiration. Making fillo dough takes time and a lot of effort, for something that is already done for you: perfectly cut, rolled out and packaged for you to use, why go through the trouble? You won't ever make it as perfect as the companies that sell it, so...what's the point? For the challenge? Oh well, than by all means, go challenge yourself! I haven't seen, heard of, or worked at a bakery or restaurant were we had to make fillo dough. But I digress, here's the baklava!
1 fillo package (you'll use 1/4 of it, but save the rest for a rainy day!)
3 sticks unsalted butter
1 cup walnuts
1 cup almonds
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 1/2 cup water
1 1/2 cup sugar
- Make clarified butter: Place butter in saucepan and melt. Let sit and with the help of a spoon, skim the top. These are the dairy solids of the butter and you want to remove them. Keep skimming while slowly simmering the butter. Some solids will float to the bottom, so don't disturb the pan much. After you've done this, slowly strain through cheesecloth or a small strainer and reserve.
- In your food processor, pulse nuts, sugar, and cinnamon. About 5-7 pulses is enough; you're looking for small chunks, not a powder. Reserve.
- Pre-heat oven to 350F.
- Cut fillo sheets to fit your mold. The sheets don't need to be perfect, you can play jigsaw puzzle and make a large sheet out of a few smaller sheets.
- Dip a brush into your butter and brush the pan. Layer on fillo and brush each layer with butter; layer about 5 sheets and then sprinkle nut mixture evenly.
- Repeat 5 more layers of fillo and butter; sprinkle more nuts. Do this until you run out of nuts!
- With a sharp knife, cut through layers into squares or triangles before baking. Place in oven for about 30-40 minutes, until nice and golden brown.
- During the last few minutes of the baklava in the oven, make a syrup out of the water and sugar. For added flavor, steep cardamom pods or cinnamon sticks in the syrup.
- As the baklava comes out of the oven, re-cut where you previously had cut and drizzle syrup over it while still hot. This will allow it to absorb all the gorgeous syrup.
- Use your favorite nuts!Pistachios, Hazelnuts or Pine Nuts; any of them work and would definitely put your signature touch on it.
- Spice it up: with so many spices out there, you can add pretty much anything you love. Nutmeg or a scraping of vanilla bean in the nut mixture would be great.
- Add a teaspoon of Rose Water or Orange Blossom Water to the syrup to infuse a new flavor!
Hope you enjoyed this recipe and you can come over to Cooking with Books for more recipes! Follow me on Twitter @nella22 or Like the Cooking with Books Facebook Page!