It’s Christmas week, whether we’re ready or not. Gather me in the last group, but I’m doing my best to unite it. Baklava is one of the special desserts I make every year. It’s a layered dessert of phyllo dough with chopped pecans in the center and sweet syrup drizzled on top. Despite its richness when it comes to sweets, it is a dessert loved by family and friends. When I bake the pan, I usually post it on social media, and many people quickly provide their sampling services. Fortunately, the pan makes about 120 pieces, so there’s plenty to go around with.
Making baklava is a long process that takes two days. Good things cannot be rushed. Obviously, you need to gather the ingredients first. I buy pecans at the store and use a food processor to chop them up, but not very fine.
Make or buy your own ghee (also called cooked butter). Costco recently started carrying a great brand called Tin Star Foods that comes in a 32-ounce jar. Other places carry this brand, but you can’t beat the price at Costco (as with many items).
Also prepare the syrup a day before baking, as long as it’s not raining or snowing. I know this sounds like an old wives’ tale, but making syrup is like making dessert, so just listen to Sitti Marguerite (Sitti is Arabic for grandmother) who taught her granddaughter, Joan, who made me make baklava years ago. You see, every Sitti makes things a touch different. I never made baklava with me because she passed away 11 years ago, and at that point, I wasn’t interested in making this time-consuming dessert.
The traditional way to make baklava is by putting several layers of potato chips in lots of melted ghee, tucking the corners inside and rolling them into a stem that fits perfectly in your pan. This recipe makes things easier because you use a whole package of phyllo chips on the bottom layer, layer each piece and brush them with melted butter, then after the package is empty, you add the pecan filling, and then another whole package of phyllo. You are cutting the crust to the size of a pan half a sheet of paper with a sharp knife, cutting the plastic and foil straight away until it fits perfectly. And be sure to use a slightly damp paper towel and a bag of flour over the phyllo layer as you apply it. The phyllo paste is very thin and dries quickly.
I could go on forever detailing how to make this delicious dessert, but if you read the recipe carefully, you will succeed. Since we all have a quiet holiday, you can also search and make a pan of baklava. Everyone you share it with will thank you very much. This dessert is good at any time of the day, especially with a cup of coffee in the morning. Coffee balances out the sweetness of baklava.
We wish you and your loved ones some sweetness this festive season.
A version of this story was originally published in Wichita Eagle.
This story was originally published December 23, 2021 10:07 a.m.