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Baklava

I have always loved the crispiness of baklava but not its extreme sweetness. Here, I have adapted the recipe to include dried cherries, apricots, pears, hazelnuts, and pistachios. I also prefer to use agave nectar instead of honey, and less of it than is traditional. So my version is not traditional, but then neither am I. It is, however, delicious.

When working with phyllo, there are a few things that you need to remember. Always use clarified butter because the milk solids in melted butter will soften the dough and make it soggy. The next thing to think about is how you are going to keep the dough from drying out while working with it. I spread out some plastic wrap on the countertop and then place the phyllo on top of the sheet. Then I cover it with another sheet of plastic wrap. It is like making a bed for your phyllo. Then, while you are working with it, you can just pull the covers up when you aren’t working with it. The edges dry out first, so when working with the sheets, be sure to butter from the outside edges in.—Chef Lynn Gigliotti.

This and other great recipes can be found in The Culinary Institute of America's Pasta: Classic and Contemporary Pasta, Risotto, Crespelle, and Polenta Recipes cookbook.
Baklava-recipe-CIA-F

Ingredients

Makes 117 1-inch pieces

  • 1/4 cup pistachios, toasted and chopped
  • 1/4 cup hazelnuts, toasted and chopped
  • 1/4 cup dried cherries, cut into rough dice
  • 1/4 cup dried pears, cut into rough dice
  • 1/4 cup dried apricots, cut into rough diced
  • 12 sheets phyllo dough
  • 1 cup clarified unsalted butter (see Chef’s Note)
  • 2 cups agave nectar
  • 1/4 cup rose water

Directions

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F.
  2. In a bowl, mix together the pistachios, hazelnuts, cherries, pears, and apricots.
  3. Lay a sheet of phyllo on your countertop and brush it with clarified butter. Place another layer of phyllo on top and brush it with clarified butter. Place the phyllo in the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking pan. Sprinkle with a light layer of the nut and fruit mixture and then drizzle with about ¼ cup of the agave nectar.
  4. Repeat step 3 until all the ingredients are used and the phyllo is the finishing layer. Press down on the baklava, using a sheet of plastic wrap so that it won’t stick to your hands, then refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  5. Using a sharp knife, lightly score the phyllo into square- or diamond-shaped pieces about 1 inch wide so that when it is baked it will be easier to cut. Combine the remaining agave nectar and the rose water and drizzle the baklava with ½ cup of the mixture. Bake in the oven until golden and crisp, about 20 to 30 minutes. Cool, cut, and serve.
Chef’s Note: Although it is extra work to make clarified butter, it is important to use it in this recipe so that the dough doesn’t get soggy from the milk solids. Melt 1¼ cups unsalted butter over medium heat and allow the butter to come to a gentle simmer. Soon the milk solids will start to float to the top of the butter. Skim off as much of the milk solids as possible so that you are just left with the butterfat. Allow the butter to cool to room temperature before using.


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