Versions of this popular Middle Eastern dessert have existed for hundreds of years. Most versions use walnuts or pistachios layered between paper-thin sheets of pastry that, luckily, can be found in the frozen food section in most supermarkets these days.
Unlike most recipes for baklava that are meant to feed a crowd, this one makes a smaller batch, perfect for a two person household. It also features ground almond meal (leftover from a previous recipe for an apple tart) that results in a very nice filling with the texture of marzipan. It’s a perfect partner for summer fruits like the peaches and raspberries I’ve used here.
The ingredient list for this is short and thanks to the frozen phyllo pastry, goes together fast. I’ve used a 9 x 7 inch baking pan (the size I like to use for brownies), but an eight or nine inch square pan will work just as well for the amounts in given in this recipe.
2 cups almond meal
½ c sugar
1 stick butter, room temperature
1 stick butter, melted & cooled
½ package phyllo dough, thawed
1 cup sugar
¼ cup honey
2 tsp lemon juice
½ cup water
Brush the baking pan with a bit of the melted butter and lay ½ sheet of the phyllo pastry on the bottom of the pan. Brush the top of the pastry with more melted butter and repeat until there are 12-15 layers of pastry. Don’t fret if the pastry tears, just fit any torn sheets into the pan to make a layer.
Place the almond filling on top of the pastry and gently pat it out to an even thickness with your fingertips. Place another sheet of pastry on top of the almond filling, brush with butter and continue to layer about 10-12 sheets brushing the top of each sheet with butter. Brush the final layer well with melted butter . Sprinkle the top of the pastry with a bit of extra almond meal if desired. With a sharp knife, carefully score the top of the pastry into squares or diamond shapes, just cutting into the top few layers.
Bake at 325 degrees for about 45-50 minutes or until the top is an even golden brown. While the baklava is baking, combine the sugar, honey, lemon juice and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer until the sugar has dissolved and set aside.
Remove the baklava from the oven. Gently and evenly, spoon the sugar syrup all over the top of the baklava, letting it run down the sides and into the sliced areas. Use enough of the syrup to soak the pastry well (you may not need the entire batch of syrup).
Allow the baklava to cool to room temperature before slicing. Letting it rest overnight improves the texture and makes it easier to slice. Serve plain or with sliced fruit on the side.
Makes about 10 pieces