How To Make Baklava.
I’m about to bombard you with pictures, so let’s just get this out of the way.
Here’s the deal: I’ve wanted to make baklava for YEARS. As a firm believer of the nuts-stink-in-desserts camp, this flaky treat has always made the cut. In fact, I’m pretty sure that for the first like, 15 years of eating this, I didn’t even know it was nuts. I just thought it was some sort of delicious, caramely heaven thing.
No one in my family ever made it, but a few of my mom’s friends would graciously gift us some around the holidays and I would often hog it all to myself, saving one last piece for my mom. I figured it was impossible to make.
I knew I wanted to put a tiny bit of my own spin on the flavor, so I added cardamom and vanilla beans. Freaky.
I also used mostly pecans, then almonds and pistachios. Pistachios are funny. They are green.
Here’s a bowl of nuts.
Um, let’s talk about how I often do things wrong. Like, everyday. I used salted pistachios. Dude… totally okay. I was nervous, but not nervous enough to go buy a bag of unshelled pistachios and then spend a few hours of my life shelling a pound of them. I’d rather paint my nails. So… I had salted pistachios on hand and I used them. They rocked.
Tyler Florence’s (yes, we are BBF’s now) recipe called for a sh*tton of nuts. I am not even kidding. This recipe would be incredibly affordable if not for the raw, unsalted nuts that cost an arm and a leg. I didn’t read the reviews online before chopping mine up (uh, I mean, why would I do something smart like that?), but you could easily get away with about half of the called-for amount. More on this later.
I also used vanilla beans!
I love spending my life’s savings on food related items.
I chopped everything in my trusty lil’ food processor, including adding the vanilla beans in spurts so they’d be somewhat evenly distributed.
I was afraid that I ended up chopping the nuts too fine, but again… I wasn’t afraid enough to have patience and press pulse 42 times while chopping. Regardless, they ended up being perfect for me.
Oh. Oh oh oh! Something else I did?
I REDUCED THE BUTTER. Yes. I REDUCED THE BUTTER.
I know. Wasn’t sure you heard me the first time. This isn’t necessary, but butter is quite a precious (read: expensive) commodity around here and I figured I’d start with two sticks as opposed to the four that the recipe called for.
Maybe I’ve been abducted by aliens.
Oooooh and another thing? Remember when I made croissants? And before that, how I couldn’t figure out for the life of me why croissants were supposedly soooo unhealthy? Then I rolled a pound of butter into between the dough? Well. This is sort of like that.
There is (almost) a pound of butter in this pan. I freaking love it.
Also like the croissants, I figured that this would be quite a challenge. Turns out it wasn’t very challenging at all, just time consuming. I ended up using my 9×13 Calphalon pan, after Tyler’s recipe (see? BFF’s fo’ life.) suggested refrigerating the layers for 30 minutes before baking. I didn’t need anything shattering in my oven, so this worked great.
First up – you brush the entire bare pan with melted butter. Then, you layer 8 sheets of phyllo dough, each brushed with melted butter, like above and below.
Now would be a good time to talk about the phyllo.
Hmmmm. Me? No patience? Yes. You know this. It would probably be wise to read the instructions first. I opened both packages and hurriedly “unrolled” them to let them thaw. Then I ended up with a giant, flakey mess. Eventually (and four boxes later) I learned to be patience and let them completely thaw, and I did follow the directions by placing a slightly damp towel over top. Even though I did all of that, let me just say that almost every single one of my sheets ended up ripping one way or another in this process, no matter how gentle I was. Moral of the story? Keep going anyway.
Since I had all of those nuts, I knew that two layers (as the recipe suggested) just wasn’t going to suffice. I didn’t want super thick nut layers (that’s what she said?) and I didn’t want to waste the nuts, even though I was already angry because sitting in that food processor up there may as well have been a new pair of shoes. So I did four layers of nuts.
Here’s how it went: 8 sheets of phyllo -> 1 layer of nuts -> 4 sheets of phyllo -> 1 layer of nuts -> 4 sheets of phyllo -> 1 layer of nuts -> 4 sheets of phyllo -> 1 layer of nuts -> 8 sheets of phyllo. With EVERY SINGLE LAYER BRUSHED WITH BUTTER.
Then, as Tyler (my love… darn this relationship is moving fast) suggested, I dumped the remaining butter over top. He’s my kind of guy. I also followed his instructions and threw the whole pan in the fridge for exactly 30 minutes, then brought it out and cut it before baking.
What’s that? You think my slices may look nice?
Uh. Look again.
Not so nice.
But guess what? It didn’t even matter! I baked it for exactly 42 minutes, rotating the pan once in between.
The recipe called for removing a piece (that was awesome. I ate it.), tipping the pan to the side and draining the butter. Uh, come again? I am not ever going to “drain the butter.” But whatever. Luckily, there was no butter to drain, which reinforces my decision to use less than the recipe called for. I ended up with 2 3/4 sticks rather than four. Go me.
While the baklava was baking, I made a honey vanilla bean syrup. Holy smokes. I wanted to drink this.
Just check out those vanilla beans.
The millisecond this comes out of the oven, you dump the syrup all over the top.
Then you’re supposed to let it “sit for several hours.” Ha! What a freaking joke.
Just do what I did: make it in the late afternoon, then let it sit overnight. However, during the time it is “sitting,” pick off about 17 flakey layers from the top. Works like a charm.
In all seriousness, I did do that, but letting it sit overnight was key. It was so easy to slice and remove from the pan.
Plus… check out those layers.
But you know all things are better with chocolate…
How To Make Baklava
- 16 ounces of unsalted pecans, roasted
- 8 ounces of unsalted almonds, roasted
- 8 ounces of salted pistachios, roasted (if using unsalted, add about 1/4 teaspoon salt to nut mixture)
- 2 whole vanilla beans, scraped
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 2/3 cup brown sugar
- 1 pound of phyllo dough
- 2 3/4 sticks, about 1 1/3 cups or 22 tablespoons(!) of unsalted butter, melted
honey vanilla bean simple syrup
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1 tablespoons vanilla bean paste
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- Thaw phyllo dough according to directions on package, then unroll. Once thawed, cover with a slightly damp towel to keep pliable.
- Combine nuts in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped, adding the contents of the vanilla bean in two or three separate pulses. Once chopped, add nuts to a large bowl and combine with brown sugar, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg and cloves, then thoroughly mix.
- Melt butter on the stovetop or in the microwave. Using a pastry brush, brush an entire 9x 13 pan with melted butter. Layer 8 sheets of phyllo dough – each one painted with melted butter – in the baking dish. Be very patient and gentle with the dough, and if it begins to rip, just try to push it into place. After layer 8, spread 1/4 of the nut mixture evenly over the dough. At this point, I wasn’t sure how the next sheet of phyllo would stick to the nuts, so I took my pastry brush and drizzled a bit of butter over the nuts. This helps!
- After the first layer of nuts, layer 4 sheets of phyllo on top – each one brushed with melted butter. Repeat this 3 more times: 1 layer of nuts, 4 sheets of phyllo, 1 layer of nuts, 4 sheets of phyllo, then a fourth layer of nuts. After that layer, add 8 sheets of phyllo on top (instead of just 4) like you did in the beginning, brushing each with melted butter. If there is any butter left, pour it over top. Stick the whole pan in the fridge and refrigerate for 30 minutes. As soon as you stick it in the fridge, preheat the oven.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Remove baklava from fridge and using a sharp knife, cut as desired. I set my pan down horizontally, then made four cuts from left to right. I then started in a corner and cut diagonals. Once cut, place pan in the oven and bake for 40 minutes. As soon as you place it in the oven, make your syrup below.
- If the top of the baklava gets to brown, tent it with aluminum foil. When finished baking, remove from oven and gently cut out a corner piece. Tilt the pan and if there is any butter laying, drain it. While the baklava is hot, evenly pour the syrup over top. Let set (ideally overnight, covered with aluminum foil once cool) before cutting and serving.
- To make syrup: Combine all ingredients together in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, and let cook for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool completely. Before drizzling, remove cinnamon stick.
Did you make this recipe?
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I appreciate you so much!
Now all of you get over here now since I seriously HAVE AN ENTIRE PAN OF BAKLAVA ON MY COUNTER!!
252 Comments on “How To Make Baklava.”
If you need a mouth to stuff all that baklava in to I’d gladly offer mine up! It might be torturous…but I’m willing to take one for the team!
I want to eat/make this so badly!! I bet your house smelled amazing. I also want to snuggle right in between those slices on your plate…..
You always have such great treats on here, but OMG – this looks AMAZING!!! I must make immediately.
And Baklava is the ONLY dessert my husband likes. I didn’t even know you could make it. I thought it had to come from an awesome greek place where I could also conveniently have spanikopita and gyros. There goes my excuse.
I learn better when there are pictures to look at rather than texts to read when it comes to instructions. Thanks for this post, I feel like I can tackle making baklava now…maybe, big maybe on that.
I might add coconut flakes to my baklava when I make it.
Love the step by step pictures! It looks amazingly good!
It’s a shame I will never be able to eat a piece of this decadent looking pastry! (Nut allergy.) My husband’s family almost always has a platter of these at their holiday events, but they are mostly purchased and none of them look as delicious as these. Beautiful pics and pastry.
I think you should be proud, cutting down on the butter makes these like health food, so you could eat these for breakfast.
I think I want to marry you. mmm baklava.
YUM I love love baklava and all its honey gooey sweetness! My great aunt used to make baklava alll the time, it was a constant process which she would let no one help with because we wouldn’t do it right ;) anyways I have awesome memories of making myself sick with her amazing baklava.. and then taking finger-fulls of honey/butter from the bottom of the pan. Love this recipe!! Your pictures look incredible.. and the chocolate I can’t even imagine more richness than the original, but it sounds awesome.
I’ll never make this. Way outta my league. But I’ll stare at the pictures for a while.
oh no you didn’t. i am IMPRESSED.
Wow. Just. Wow.
There are no words.
Honey Vanilla Bean Syrup? *sigh* *faint*
I think this is the year to tackle Baklava.
Oh my GOSH that looks incredible! I just had the most amazing pistachio baklava at a local Mediterranean place. I didn’t even want to imagine how difficult it was to make, but now??? Maybe I’ll attempt.
Gorgeous!! My best friend’s mom used to make this for us in high school after soccer season was over and I was in awe of the effort she would put into it. Now I’m in awe of you.
yummmm i LOVE baklava!!!
Thank you SO much for this! My husband loves baklava but I’ve never gotten around to making any.
Oh my gosh, I have been on a baklava binge lately. And now I can make it myself!
And you added chocolate? Oh my goodness, oh my goodness, just for that I need to try this recipe!!!
omgomgomgomgomg!!! this looks amazing! & i’m totally loving all your photos… even the so-called “ugly” slices. this has been on my to-bake list for a looooong time and now i feel like i can totally do it! btw, i’ll be right over to eat some :)
Don’t you know that I’m a picture book girl? Words are stupid. More pictures the betta!
^^ this is all sarcasm so no one eat me please.
This is the most beautiful baklava I have ever seen! So often there is way too much phyllo but this is beautiful with nuts. And the addition of chocolate-genius. Can you ship to France?
I think it’s so cool that you keep challenging yourself with your cooking/baking.
I’m a baklava fiend. As a Greek girl, I grew up eating it and it is truly a special dessert. Love your spin on the flavor, too – I used to live around the corner from a Greek bakery with a baklava bar and I was so surprised at how many variations it stands up to beautifully!
You are killing me. Baklava is one of my favorite desserts ever, and I’ve never had an urge to make it homemade til now. My thighs don’t need this!!!
I’d love to try this sometime! That is one of the best desserts…
nice work on this recipe!!!!! you’ve made baklava accessible to normal people. looks delicious and now i want to try and make it myself!
THIS IS SO COOL! thank you for making this :D I love greek restaurants and I’ve always wondered what the heck was in these! I can’t wait to make them!
wow. that is beautiful.
I had a Greek professor in college who would always bring in homemade baklava on the last day of classes. It’s pretty much the only reason I ever took Constitutional Law. Hmm…maybe that’s why I went to law school come to think of it. I associated law with flaky, heavenly baked goods.
If that’s the case, sign me up for next semester!
Wish we lived closer — would have helped gobbling down these delicious baklava’s :)
I love that you altered the sweetness and buttery level of this recipe — hate it when sweets are way too sugary!
I love baklava too and always thought it would be impossible to make at home. This is the best chocolate baklava I’ve ever eaten: http://www.confessionsofachocoholic.com/chocolate/chocolate-baklava-and-more-at-sofra Come over to Boston! :)
Wait, CHOCOLATE baklava?! I didn’t even know that existed! Is it chocolate or cocoa mixed into the nut part? Holy crap.
It’s dark chocolate and cocoa nibs mixed into the nut filling!
Can I switch-a-roo the almonds for more pecans?! No need to have anaphylacitc shock on the kitchen counter, wouldn’t want to mess up my phyllo with drool. LOL And also, I am sir-rur-reaously thinking of adding a smidge of cocoa powder in this beast of a mix! Hot dog! OH… How your killing these hips of mine. Ya heard?! ;) LOL <3 it!
I love Baklava with a passion. My grandmother used to make it all the time, but she’s getting older now and isn’t able to. Unfortunately this looks WAY out of my league! I’m impressed!
I LOVE Baklava and I like how you drizzled chocolate over yours! A counter full of baklava=heaven!
This looks so good. Great pictures. But I have to say that your brush, the all gross and rusty one, it is time to get a new one. It just not look safe to use. Who knows what deadly bacteria looms in that thing.
yumm-oh!!!! And how many pieces did you eat???? Looks so good. I’d rather buy than make it is very labor intensive. Well done.
I’m going to go ahead and inform you that we are now best friends and Tyler can join us. I LURVE Baklava, but would never even think about making it. I have the confidence now that I can probably do it. Can you invite me and tyler over for a slice of that Baklava and some of your enchiladas? Thank you!
baklava is one of my most favorite things in the WORLD!!!!!! The butter! the layers! the nuts!
i mean, what’s not to like?
My coworker brought some in the other day (store bought) and it was like TOTES soggy and would you believe that I didn’t eat more than one bite of it?? What a shame. It’s gotta be crispy. GOTTA BE.
And I WAS going to say, seems easier than the croissants. Which was your favorite recipe or which one would you make more often?
Your Baklava is stunning! I have been on the search for a good recipe but nothing seemed overly appealing until I saw you post! I am so excited to try making this thank to your beautiful pictures :)
This looks incredible! I love baklava.
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Wow that looks amazing! I’m a huge fan of baklava. It definitely needs a lot of love and patience when making it.
Love this! I’m a sucker for baklava and I made it once before…..very time consuming but so good! I’ll have to try this since it looks so much better than mine did. Looks like cutting it before baking would make a big difference too!
This looks perfect, Jessica. I had my first experience with baklava recently and it was heavenly. Love these flavors!
Question 1: How far is Boston to Pittsburgh?
Question 2: Can these ship? :-P
I don’t care how time consuming these are; I want to make them!
mMmm that looks amazing!!
I LOVE Baklava. We ate our weight in that sticky sweet stuff while on our honeymoon in Istanbul. Was magical!
Omg I’ve always wanted to make baklava!! Thanks for the recipe – looks amaaazing :)
Oh my–four sticks of butter? Very glad you reduced it! I love baklava–looks fantastic :D