Some food is not all it’s cracked up to be.

I’ll put in a nutshell for you.
Some desserts may not be all they are cracked up to be, but baklava definitely is not one of them.
Baklava is one of those desserts that I always forget how much I enjoy until I rediscover it, and then it’s like meeting a lover for the first time. Delicious. Sweet, crunchy, a hint of salt. Just wonderful.
When my boyfriend and I were in Istanbul, I had one primary (sweet) goal: to get baklava. It was one of the only things I wanted–the other was Turkish Delight. But, that’s a story for another time.
As we were waiting in the airport, we wandered around all the shops searching for baklava. I’m talking the pastry shops, the duty free, etc. Everywhere.
Alas, we couldn’t find ANY. We grabbed a cup of tea and took turns scouring the duty free shops for last minute purchases.
We were both slightly foggy from lack of sleep and a touch of illness; neither of us thinking quite clearly. I was guarding the bags, reading, when he came back with this giant box. He tossed it on the table and slumped into the chair across from me.
I looked at him, he looked from me to the box. It was a box of baklava.
We tore it open and ripped into it.
It was about 4:30 in the morning. I am fairly certain we ate the entire box.
It was sweet and that’s about all I remember. I know it wasn’t the most amazing baklava I’ve ever had, but, I also remember that it was just what I wanted. And he found it. Greatest boyfriend in the world.
When we got home, I had been craving baklava on and off since February. So, I finally buckled down and made some. I forgot how labor intensive it can be for an otherwise simple dessert. It’s just delicate, but so worth it.
b1To me, amazing baklava seems to melt in your mouth when you bite into it. Or at least it has an oozy, syrup quality that plays around with the crunch of the nuts. It should have a bit of a salty bite to even out the sweetness. I like it with pistachios, but feel free to use walnuts.
Adapted from Food Network.
For the Baklava:
1 pound pistachios coarsely ground, plus more for garnish
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, or to taste
1 cup ground breadcrumbs (unflavored)
4 sticks unsalted butter, melted
16 sheets phyllo dough (thawed, if frozen), cut in half
For the Syrup:
3 cups sugar
1 8-ounce jar honey
1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
  1. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven; preheat to 350 degrees F.
  2. Combine the nuts, cinnamon and breadcrumbs in a bowl.
  3. Brush a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with some of the butter. Layer 10 pieces of phyllo in the dish, brushing each piece with butter before adding the next (keep the remaining dough covered with a damp towel).
  4. Sprinkle a quarter of the nut mixture over the dough. Layer 4 pieces of phyllo on top, brushing each with butter before adding the next.
  5. Sprinkle with another quarter of the nut mixture. Add 4 more phyllo pieces on top, brushing each with butter, then add another quarter of the nut mixture, 4 more pieces of phyllo with butter, and the remaining nuts.
  6. Layer the remaining 10 pieces of phyllo on top of the nuts, brushing each with butter; brush the top piece with extra butter.
  7. Cut into the baklava to make strips, about 1 1/2 inches wide. Then make diagonal slices, about 1 1/2 inches apart, to create a diamond pattern.
  8. Bake until golden, about 1 hour.
  9. Meanwhile, make the syrup: Bring the sugar, cinnamon, honey and 1 1/2 cups water to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat and cook, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the lemon juice and boil 2 more minutes, then let cool slightly.
  10. Pour the syrup over the warm baklava; let soak, uncovered, at least 6 hours or overnight. Garnish with nuts.

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