Sunday, April 12, 2009

"Well, SURELY this isn't gonna be disgusting." (The BEST baklava EVER) by Alena and Faryl

The day started on an UP note, Alena and Faryl (us), got Chipotle on our way to pick up Alena's FREE Cuisinart food processor!!!! And POST processor pick-up; guess what?! We were gonna make BAKLAVA!
We chose between two very competent recipes and decided on the one from Epicurious.


We wrote it on a piece of pape so we didn't have to move the computer.
(It looks like E.T. is helping to hold it for us.)

Middle Eastern Nut-Filled Multilayered Pastry (Baklava)

Ingredients:

(We cut the amounts in this recipe in half.)

Syrup:

* 3 cups sugar, or 2 cups sugar and 1 cup honey
* 1 1/2 cups water
* 2 tablespoons lemon juice
* 2 tablespoons light corn syrup (optional) - We left it out!
* 2 (3-inch) sticks cinnamon (optional) - We put it in!
* 4 to 6 whole cloves, or 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom (optional)- We left it out!


Filling:

* 1 pound blanched almonds, pistachios, walnuts, or any combination, finely chopped or coarsely ground (about 4 cups)
* 1/4 cup sugar
* 1 to 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
* 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves or cardamom (optional)


* 1 pound (about 24 sheets) phyllo dough
* About 1 cup (2 sticks) melted butter
or vegetable oil - (go with butter, seriously.)

SO. With the newly acquired CUISINART we thought to ourselves, let's fire this baby up and grind up some pistachios, walnuts and almonds! We lifted the heavy thing out of the box. (Did I mention we carried it from 111th street to 92nd?) To our dismay, the Cuisinart in the box did not resemble the shiny, stainless steel model pictured above. In size and shape, yes, the similarities were there, but this guy was probably circa 1978 - complete with some very stylish (for the time) tan and brown plastic attachments. AESTHETICS ASIDE -- It looked sturdy and functional. Everything a Cuisinart should be. We assembled it, plugged it in and....


nothing happened. The shiny metal blade remained inert. The machine was still.

Hell no, we thought. We carried this thing in our little arms all the way from 111th street! It HAS to work!

We moved some pieces around, unplugged, plugged back in, tried again. Nada.

I (alena) wanted to cry a little. BUT - didn't. We found that Nick's coffee grinder served as an excellent nut grinder too. We moved on:

1. To make the syrup: Stir the sugar, water, lemon juice, and if using, the corn syrup, cinnamon sticks, and/or cloves over low heat until the sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Stop stirring, increase the heat to medium, and cook until the mixture is slightly syrupy, about 5 minutes (it will register 225 degrees on a candy thermometer). Discard the cinnamon sticks and whole cloves. Let cool.

2. To make the filling: Combine all the filling ingredients.

3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 12-by-9-inch or 13-by-9-inch baking pan or 15-by-10-inch jelly roll pan.

4. Place a sheet of phyllo in the prepared pan and lightly brush with butter. Repeat with 7 more sheets. Spread with half of the filling. Top with 8 more sheets, brushing each with butter. Use any torn sheets in the middle layer. Spread with the remaining nut mixture and end with a top layer of 8 sheets, continuing to brush each with butter. Trim any overhanging edges.

5. Using a sharp knife, cut 6 equal lengthwise strips (about 1 3/4 inches wide) through the top layer of pastry. Make 1 1/2-inch-wide diagonal cuts across the strips to form diamond shapes.

6. Just before baking, lightly sprinkle the top of the pastry with cold water. This inhibits the pastry from curling. Bake for 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 300 degrees and bake until golden brown, about 15 additional minutes.

7. Cut through the scored lines. Drizzle the cooled syrup slowly over the hot baklava and let cool for at least 4 hours. Cover and store at room temperature for up to 1 week. If the baklava dries out while being stored, drizzle with a little additional hot syrup.





Ground nuts!

Syrup!

Faryl's Aunt Rae is a famous Bakalva maker and she has an instructional DVD that shows how to cut it special... but she (I) forgot.

The recipe says to chill the Baklava for 4 hours. I would like to say "F THAT". We waited about 10 minutes before diving into that pastry and it was DELICIOUS. Faryl's attitude changed from one of apprehension and skeptical hope ("Well, surely this isn't gonna be disgusting,") to proclaiming it "the best baklava EVER". I (Alena) would have to agree! Make it! You will eat it all out of the pan without even waiting for it to cool.

And as for the Cuisinart?

Nick arrived home, switched around one part, and BOOM.

IT WORKED. SUCCESS ALL AROUND.

(Thanks Nick.)


Yo, we made that shit.

1 comment:

  1. WHY are food processors so weird and complicated?! i hate them! i will never use anything except my trusty hand blender. i love it so much!

    ReplyDelete