Baklava, for me, is synonymous with 3 things…
1. A pain to make.
2. A pain completely worth the tastebud ecstasy.
3. Afternoon coffee dates with my yiayia/grandmother at home in Spetses.
I have yet to meet a single person who doesn’t like baklava.
There are literally dozens of versions of this sweet, syrupy, sticky delight but mine is simple: chocolate & pistachio.
I typically make the syrup in the morning, bake the baklava late in the evening and then enjoy perfectly syrup-ed the next day.
This is not a quick fix dessert… It’s a complete show stopper.
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cooking Time: 45-90 minutes (depending on your bakeware, see below)
Portions: 30-35 pieces
For the syrup:
- 425ml water
- 650g caster sugar
- 2 tablespoons honey
- Peel of 1 orange
- 2 cinnamon sticks
For the baklava:
- 400g pistachio nuts, roughly ground (but not to a fine dust)
- 200g good quality dark chocolate, chopped using a knife
- 500g unsalted butter
- 500g filo pastry (JusRol packs x2)
**Note re size/shape of baking tins:
You will need 2x 24cm square baking tins OR 1 very large rectangular. Needs to have straight sides and must be minimum 4 inches deep.
Start by making the syrup. Add all ingredients to a heavy based pot, bring to a boil and then simmer for 3 minutes. Leave aside to cool down completely (this may take a few hours).
Preheat the oven to 150C fan. Melt the butter in a pot over a low heat. Combine the ground pistachios with the chopped chocolate in a large mixing bowl, reserving a large handful of this to decorate later.
Cut the filo sheets to fit the size of your tin (if you’re using JusRol pastry & 24cm tins, cut in half widthways). Have in front of you the filo, the melted butter, the chocolate/pistachio mix and the tin(s).
Before you begin assembling the baklava, grease the baking tin(s) with 1-2 tablespoons of the melted butter.
To make the base, add 1 sheet of filo to the tin and drizzle over melted butter using your pastry brush. Repeat twice more to make 3 layers of filo on the bottom, drizzling with butter in between.
Sprinkle 2 generous handfuls of chocolate/pistachio mixture over the base. Add 1 sheet of filo, drizzle with butter and repeat another 5-6 times, leaving 3 sheets of filo for the top (remember to reserve a large handful of chocolate/pistachio mix to decorate).
To make the top, add 3 sheets of filo to the tin drizzling with butter in between and ‘tucking in’ each sheet using your brush.
Pour over any remaining butter (especially over the edges that tend to get dry) and place your tin in the fridge for 5-10 minutes.
Using a sharp knife and going just 3/4 of the way through, cut your baklava into portions, around 3×4 inches. You can go square like I have for ease or you can cut diagonally if you want to go fancy.
Sprinkle over some water using just your fingers so that the sheets of filo don’t rise and fly off in the heat of the oven. Place your tray in the middle of the oven and cook as follows:
> If you used 2x 24cm square tins, bake for 40-45 minutes.
> If you used 1x large rectangular tin, bake for 60-90 minutes.
As soon as your baklava comes out of the oven, ladle over the cold syrup and sprinkle a little chocolate/pistachio mix over each square to decorate.
Leave to cool completely and until most of the syrup has been absorbed, usually 4-5 hours, preferably overnight.
PS Check out some extra baklava baking tips below.
Tip 1- How best to keep/store your baklava: Cover with a tea towel or muslin cloth. No foil, cling film or fridge.
Tip 2- How to know when it’s baked: You want a nice, golden colour on the top and the bottom to be cooked.
Tip 3- The ‘hot/cold rule’: You want to add cold syrup to a hot baklava OR a hot syrup to a cold baklava. The first saves you time.
Tip 4- BE PATIENT! Trust me when I say it’s totally worth waiting until the syrup has been absorbed…