It’s that time of year again when you make sure your fridge is well stocked with butter and eggs so you can bake for holiday celebrations, family get-togethers, neighbors, and friends. It’s time to pull out the tried-and-true recipes as well as give some new ones a shot. I just added Baklava to my list of favorite holiday recipes. While it does require a little patience in the carefully-separating-paper-thin-sheets-of-phyllo-dough-and-gently-brushing-them-with-butter category, it is a straightforward recipe that yields an incredibly delicious reward.  Baklava’s got it all: sweetness from the honey and sugar, the nuts and phyllo dough add a great crunch, it’s a little bit spicy from the cinnamon, and the butter adds a balancing richness. Give Baklava a try this holiday season.

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Ingredients

1 ½ cups walnuts, finely chopped

1 ½ cups almonds, finely chopped

¾ cup sugar

2 teaspoons cinnamon

½ (16 oz.) package phyllo dough (about 20 sheets of dough), thawed

1 cup Organic Valley Butter, melted

¾ cup sugar

¾ cup honey

¾ cup water

The peel of half a lemon, cut into strips with a vegetable peeler

1 teaspoon vanilla

 Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. In a small bowl, stir together nuts, sugar, and cinnamon.
  3. Using a pastry brush, butter a 9×13” pan. Place 1 sheet of phyllo dough in the pan and brush with butter, repeat 5 times.
  4. Sprinkle ¼ of the nut mixture evenly over the 6 sheets of buttered dough. Place 1 sheet of phyllo dough over the nut mixture and brush with butter, add 2 more buttered sheets of phyllo dough.
  5. Repeat step 4 – 3 more times to use remaining nut/sugar mixture.
  6. Add all remaining sheets of phyllo dough to the pan, buttering each sheet.
  7. Gently cut Baklava into 1” squares or diamonds, cutting through all the layers of dough.
  8. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until deeply golden brown.
  9. While Baklava is baking prepare the syrup: bring sugar, honey, water, and lemon zest to a boil in a saucepan. Reduce heat and let the syrup simmer for 10 minutes, until slightly reduced.
  10. Remove the syrup from the heat, remove the strips of lemon peel, and stir in the vanilla.
  11. Once baked, pour half the syrup evenly over the Baklava and allow to sit and absorb for 1-2 minutes. Add more until Baklava is thoroughly moistened without sitting in a sea of syrup. You may have a small amount of syrup left over.
  12. Let Baklava cool completely before re-cutting and removing from the pan.