Saturday, October 30, 2010

Baklava and other perfect marriages..

This blog posting is dedicated to the rich dense honey-soaked flavors wrapped in a light crispy shell otherwise known as Baklava. The two concepts of the rich and chewy nut filling and the light and buttery phyllo crust combine to make a perfect marriage. Opposites do attract after all. Remember Beauty and the Beast or how about Fred and Wilma Flinstone or even Lucy and Ricardo. All of our favorite characters mimic this idea of opposites put together and delighting and entertaining us. Just like this dessert.

With Halloween just around the corner what better way to celebrate than with a dessert from another world.. the Middle East to be exact. And with lower sugar content than the average Halloween candy this just might keep everyone from reaching those much dreaded sugar highs and lows.

A couple of tips for you. The food processor was brilliant to grind the nuts and I would definitely start with the almonds before adding the walnuts so they turn out being ground evenly. Also, you can use any kind of nut that you like. We also managed to shave a few calories by using Splenda when we could and using Smart Balance butter to cut the saturated fat of the regular butter.

We also used the best honey we could find. Locally produced by Mr. Lambeth himself and we used a little bit of spiced rum just for fun. If you don't want to use rum you can always substitute vanilla extract.

Happy Halloween and may you receive more treats than tricks!


for filling:

1 cup unsalted almonds
2 cups walnuts
1/2 cup milled flaxseed
12 packets Splenda
1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground clove

For the layers:

1 package phyllo dough
3 tablespoons smart balance butter
2 tablespoons salted butter
1/2 teaspoon dark spiced rum
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
For the syrup:

1 cup water
1 cup honey
1 cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon ground cloves

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

2. In a food processor add the almonds and walnuts and process for 30-40 seconds. The nuts will be coarsely chopped. You don't want to turn them to mill, just finely chop them so there are still some healthy chunks in there. 
3. In a bowl combine the chopped nuts, flax seed, splenda, cinnamon, and clove. Stir with a spatula to combine. Then set aside.

4. Melt the smart balance, butter, spiced rum, and cinnamon in the microwave for 30 seconds. Then lay your phyllo dough out on a flat surface and cover with saran wrap and a damp towel. Spray a 9 X 12 baking dish with cooking spray. 

5. Uncover the phyllo dough and work quickly using a pastry brush lay one phyllo layer at a time in the baking dish and brush with the butter mixture. Repeat this layering and buttering process until you have 12 layers of phyllo dough on the bottom. Re-cover the phyllo dough and pour the nut mixture on top of the bottom layer spreading into an even layer.
6. Then repeat the phyllo dough butter process using one sheet of phyllo dough at a time and completely saturating each layer with the butter mixture. The top layer should have 8 phyllo sheets. Next score the top layer of the baklava using a sharp knife into squares. Make sure to only puncture the top layer.

7. Place in the oven and bake for 45 minutes. 

8. Meanwhile in a medium sauce pan, combine the honey, water, cinnamon stick, clove, and squeeze half the orange and then drop the rind into the pan. Simmer over medium low heat while the baklava bakes. 

9. Once the baklava has come out of the oven ladle the syrup evenly over the top of the baklava making sure to saturate every inch of it with the delicious honey syrup. Let it sit at room temperature for at least 1 hour (this will be difficult) and eat! You can also refrigerate this if you would rather have it cold.

Servings: 20

Nutritional Skinny:

210 calories / 19 g fat / 21 g carbohydrates / 2.6 g fiber / 5 g protein

This is compared to the original that has over 330 calories and more than 22 fat grams and 30 carbohydrates!

Mental Health Benefit: This Halloween you can definitely feel a little better about eating this treat over a candy bar, however I know that not eating a candy bar on Halloween is kind of a crime. My biggest tip is to never, ever, ever beat yourself up. Treat yourself like you would your best friend. Forgive yourself and smile and move on. Life is to short to be spending it beating ourselves up. Life is to be lived and enjoyed! Lets go out there and do that!

My best Halloween wishes from our kitchen to yours!


Kate said...

Looks amazing! I've always wanted to try to make Baklava. I'm feeling inspired now. Thanks Abby!

Hot Mess Cooking said...

Kate - It is so much easier than even I originally thought! If you do make some let me know how it comes out. One of my taste testers said "I can't stop eating it!" ;)

Kristy said...

This is my first time on your blog so I just wanted to say hi! I love baklava but I have never made it. Looks delish!

Hot Mess Cooking said...

Kristy - Thanks for stopping by. I hope you try the recipe. It is so much easier than I thought and totally delicious!