The origins of patîsserie are arguably not in France, but from the ancient Mesopotamian civilization of the Assyrian Empire circa 800 B.C. I count this dessert among my most favorites to both make and enjoy, these cookies and pots de crème being the others. Phyllo (meaning leaf) is a super thin pastry, sold in the freezer section of most grocery stores. Layers of phyllo, butter, honey syrup and nuts make up this simple yet incredible delicacy. If you ever find baklava out in the wild, there are any number of combinations of nuts and flavors that make each recipe unique, but I prefer my version of all pistachios, my own backyard honey, and a hint of spices.
1 (16 ounce) package phyllo dough, room temperature
1 pound chopped pistachios (I like to pulse them finely in a food processor, leaving just a few larger chunks)
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), melted
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup sugar
1 cup honey
3/4 cup water
Preheat oven to 350ºF (depending on your oven, this step can be done when you’re close to halfway through your phyllo layering, since this process can take some time). Butter the bottoms and sides of a 9×13 inch pan.
Chop the pistachios, toss with cinnamon and cloves, and set aside.
Unroll the phyllo dough. Cover your stack of phyllo with a slightly dampened cloth to keep from drying out as you work. Layer three sheets of dough in your pan and after each addition with a pastry brush, butter thoroughly. Next, sprinkle 2 – 3 tablespoons of nut mixture evenly on top.
Repeat this layering of three buttered sheets of phyllo and 2-3 tablespoons of nuts until you reach the end of your phyllo sheets. Be sure that your top layer is at least three sheets thick.
Use a very sharp knife to cut a pattern of triangles or diamonds in the pan. Bake for 40-50 minutes until golden brown.
Make the syrup while the baklava is baking. Combine sugar, honey and water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 20 minutes to reduce then remove from heat and allow to cool.
When baklava is finished, immediately pour the cooled syrup evenly over the pan and allow to cool before serving. The baklava will absorb the syrup mixture as it cools. Store in an airtight container.