Tis the season! For me this time of year begins a month long nostalgia for baked treats and sweet goodness from my childhood. In the Fellows household (my maiden name) we started baking before the Turkey was in the oven on Thanksgiving and didn’t stop until the champagne glasses clinked on New Year’s eve. Oh, the heavenly smell of baking chocolate chip cookies and the divine taste of mom’s homemade “See’s Candies”. Yes, friends, those were high times. Nothing was so great as plopping into bed with sugar-induced food coma brought about by frosting sugar cookies (one spoonful for the cookie, one for me) or mixing up the batter for decadent treats like “Brownie candy” and homemade caramel popcorn. Yes, we went all out. Any wonder I was a sugar junkie?
Now that I’m older, I do things a little differently. I choose not to invite in the sugar comas and confectionary indulgences like I did as a kid. They just don’t work for me anymore. So that means less baking and more basking in the light of my memories when I want to walk down candycane lane. However, I do like to enjoy a little baking….I mean, a girl has to live – even if she is an “Off-White” girl.
So, today what I share with you is a modification of mom’s homemade family recipe for Baklava. I’ve boosted its bounty a little bit with a few tweaks and changes, but I think you’ll still recognize the Mediterranean favorite here. It’s also a vegan dessert if you use vegan margarine instead of butter.
16 oz whole wheat Phyllo dough. I use Fillo Factory from the Coop.
10 oz chopped almonds
2 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
¾ cup butter, melted
¾ cup honey
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp grated lemon zest
a handful of cloves (optional)
Preheat oven to 350. Roll out phyllo dough from the box. Slice in half and put one half back for later use. Use butter to grease a 9×9 baking dish. Lay out the phyllo dough so it’s nice and straight. Cover with a damp cloth to avoid over drying. Mix the nuts with the cinnamon and nutmeg. Layer 2 sheets of phyllo in the baking dish, pushing the dough to touch the edges. Add a basting of butter with a basting brush. Sprinkle on 3 Tbsp of nuts. Repeat this process until all the phyllo dough is used, except 6 layers. The top layer of phyllo should be 6 deep. Baste with butter, but don’t add nuts. Trim any excess dough, which there will likely be some of. Carefully cut into 1” squares with a very sharp knife, being mindful not to squash the phyllo or tear to abruptly.
Place one clove in the center of each square if you like.
Bake for 25 minutes, or until top is golden brown but not burning. In the meantime, heat the honey on low. Add the lemon juice/zest and stir.
Once the phyllo/nut dish is out of the oven spoon the honey mix over the top, make sure to let it drip between the creases where cuts were made. Thoroughly cover the top with the honey mixture. Set aside to cool. Once cool, you can cut the squares out and put in a cupcake holder to serve. This makes about 30 squares.