Monday January 15, 2012
Are you done with baked goods and treats yet? I know I am all baked out and don't want to look at another cookie for at least a week. But these aren't cookies! Make some paklava. Give it to your friends. Or eat it yourself, no one will ever know.
To carry on the theme of traditional Armenian recipes, I made some paklava with my grandmother. It's not exactly in line with my "healthier" baked goods approach, but it is a traditional recipe that she makes every year. Maybe next time I make it by myself I'll try and tweak it a bit, but grandmas is always so good. Everything in moderation!
My grandma makes paklava for all special occasions, whether it be Christmas, New Years, Easter, or a big family get together. Paklava can be a carrier for any type of nut mixture you want. The most common is pistachio and walnut but you could also use almond or pecans. My grandma normally uses walnuts since they are much more economical but we used pistachios this time-- thank goodness for sales at the grocery store!
The corners of the paklava are always the best. They aren't big enough for an actual serving - we dispose of them in other ways...
Recipe: Paklava1 sheet pan (sized to match the phyllo pastry)
1 package phyllo pastry dough*
1 1/4 cups butter
2 1/4 cups pistachios or walnuts
3 tbsp sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cardamom
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
juice of half a lemon
*(krinos if possible - the sheets are slightly thicker)
Clarify the butter in a small saucepan over low heat (it will take about 20 minutes). Make sure you don't stir the butter as it will disrupt the milk fats - we are trying to seperate the milk fat portion from the butter portion. Keep an eye on it as butter can burn easily. Once it has been clarified (it will smell nutty and be clear), pour it into a measuring cup through 2 seives. Discard the milkfat portion. Set aside
While the butter is clarifying, you can prepare the filling for the paklava. Pulse the nuts in a food processor until chopped and no large chunks of nuts remain. It is alright if there are some coarser pieces. Add the sugar, cinnamon and cardamom and stir to combine. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the bottom of the sheet pan with the clarified butter. Lay the first piece of phyllo down on the bottom of the pan (be careful, phyllo is extremely delicate and you want to try to not rip it!). Lightly brush the first piece with the clarified butter and place a second sheet of phyllo on top. Repeat these steps until you have 5 sheets of phyllo in your pan. After you brush the 5th sheet of phyllo with the clarified butter, evenly scatter half of the nut mixture on top of the phyllo.
Lay down 4 more sheets of phyllo and clarified butter before scattering the rest of the nut mixture evenly over. Use the rest of the phyllo dough (approximately 8 sheets) making sure to brush each layer of phyllo with the clarified butter. After you have finished all the phyllo, tuck the corners of the phyllo in so that you have clean lines around the edges of the pan.
Using a large ruler, lay it on the diagonal. This will be your guide to cutting the paklava into diamonds (you can also freehand it if you are feeling confidant in your abilities in making straight lines). Leave approximately 2 inches between cuts. Turn the pan and repeat using the other 2 corners to make diamonds. You should still have quite a bit of clarified butter left. Pour the remaining butter through the cracks (or cut lines) of the phyllo and around the edges. (I was still left with ~1/4 cup remaining- this is ok! Less butter is better for your heart!).
Bake pan in oven for ~20 minutes or until paklava is golden brown. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack. Meanwhile you can prepare the sugar syrup. In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, lemon juice and the water. Heat over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved and it comes to a boil. Boil for ~10 minutes or until it is a syrupy consistancy. When the paklava is cooled, pour the sugar syrup evenly over. You may not need to use the entire amount. Re-cut the diamonds of paklava and place in muffin wrappers to serve. Enjoy!