Thursday, September 20, 2012

Brown Butter Baklava with a Spiced Honey Soaking Syrup

Brown Butter Baklava with a Spiced Honey Soaking Syrup
Brown Butter is singlehandedly the most delicious ingredient I cook with. I mean, if I'm making a dessert, most likely brown butter will be included. It's especially important in my favorite chocolate chunk cookie recipe, and it ain't too shabby in savory recipes either, honey! Well, I had been wanting to make Baklava for a while now, but I had to wait until autumn because it just seems like the perfect comfort food on a cold day with a glass of hot coffee. And trust me, we snuck a little triangle at every meal. So, why not add brown butter to each & every layer of Baklava? Brilliant I tell, friggin' brilliant. It seriously enhances the already-bold, nutty flavor from the roasted pecans and walnuts. Then, you add in honey, vanilla beans, warm spices, and citrus... and you got one balanced Baklava, people. The whole pan disappeared within a day, and I was tempted to make another, but I knew my body would completely shut down on me if did. Although some people are intimidated by Baklava recipes, I really didn't think it was difficult at all. Just make sure you have everything ready and prepped, so you can keep layering at a steady pace. Aren't y'all glad fall is finally back? I have missed it soooo!! Enjoy :)
Look at that deep golden brown color...
And those flaky, soaked layers...
And that crispy top...
For the Spiced Honey Soaking Syrup:
1 Stick of Unsalted Butter, Browned & Cooled Slightly
2C Orange Blossom Honey
½C Water
½C Sugar
1 Vanilla Bean, Scraped for Seeds & Saving the Pod (or you can use 1T Vanilla Bean Paste)
½t Cinnamon
¼t Ground Cloves, Ground Cardamom & Ground Nutmeg
1 Lemon Zest, Peeled
1t Orange Flower Water
¼t Sea Salt

For the Brown Butter Baklava:
1 Package of Phyllo Dough, Defrosted Overnight & Brought to Room Temperature for Hour
2C Roasted Pecans, Finely Ground in a Food Processor
2C Roasted Walnuts, Finely Ground in a Food Processor
½t Cinnamon
¼t Sea Salt 
1 ½ Sticks of Unsalted Butter, Browned & Cooled Slightly
Prepared Spiced Honey Soaking Syrup, Cooled Completely Before Using
Melted Dark Chocolate, For Drizzling (optional)

1. Remove the Phyllo dough package from the freezer and place in the refrigerator for 24 hours in order to thaw. The next day, remove the package from the refrigerator 1 hour before using, so it can come to room temperature. When working with the Phyllo dough, only remove the sheets you immediately need, keeping the other sheets covered in plastic wrap, and then cover with a damp cloth.
2. For the Spiced Honey Soaking Syrup: Bring a pot over medium-high heat and whisk in the orange blossom honey, water, sugar, vanilla bean seeds and vanilla bean pod, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, orange flower water, salt, and peeled lemon zest strips. Whisk until smooth. Bring this mixture to a boil and reduce the mixture to a simmer. Once simmering, whisk in the brown butter.  Simmer for 5 minutes until the mixture has become slightly thickened into syrup. Place a strainer over a mixing bowl and strain the syrup into the bowl (this will help remove the vanilla bean pod, lemon peel, and any other gritty spice pieces). Let this mixture cool completely before pouring over the baklava.
3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spread the nuts onto a baking sheet. Roast the nuts until toasted and fragrant, but make sure not to burn! Just until the oils are beginning to release and they are warmed through. Let the nuts cool to room temperature. Next, using a food processor, pulse the roasted nuts until they are finely ground into small pieces, but do not pulse too much because they will turn into a paste. Pour the ground nuts into a small bowl and toss the nuts with the cinnamon and sea salt until combined. Set it aside.
4. For the Brown Butter Baklava: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and thoroughly brush on some of the melted brown butter into a 13x9 baking pan. Brush the top sheet of Phyllo with melted brown butter, and then grab it and the unbuttered sheet bellow it. Set the two sheets in the pan, buttered sheet face down. Press lightly into the pan. Repeat this twice more, so that you have six sheets of Phyllo in the pan (three sheets of buttered & three sheets of unbuttered). Sprinkle on a third of the nut mixture to make a single even layer. Drizzle some more brown butter on top of the nuts. Butter two more sheets of Phyllo and place them on top of the nut layer. Add another third of the nut mixture, followed by two buttered sheets of Phyllo. Repeat this one last time, making sure to use up the last third of the nut mixture and one last layer of buttered Phyllo. Finish the baklava by adding 6-8 more layers of buttered Phyllo. So that there is roughly 8-10 layers of buttered Phyllo dough finishing the baklava. Brush on any extra brown butter over the top to make sure that they brown beautifully in the oven. Using a sharp knife, cut through the layers, forming a diagonal or triangle pattern.
5. Bake the Brown Butter Baklava for 45 minutes to an hour or until it is flaky and the top layers are a dark golden brown color. Once browned, remove the baklava from the oven and immediately drizzle half of the cooled Spiced Honey Soaking Syrup evenly over the hot baklava. Allow it to sit and absorb the syrup for a minute or two, and then drizzle on more of the syrup until it is thoroughly moistened. You can either use all of it for a really, really sticky baklava or just have some of the syrup left over for cooking other recipes. Allow the baklava to cool completely, uncovered, for at least 3-4 hours.
6. Once it is cooled, soaked, & sticky, carefully remove from the pan and enjoy immediately.

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