Pecan Pie Baklava


Y’all. It has been a MONTH.

Every recipe I have tried to make lately has not worked out. I have been a disaster! I don’t even know what that’s about.

Normally, I am so good at anticipating a recipe. I research and make educated decisions for how to treat the ingredients.

Then, I come up with something inventive that I would like to eat.

For the last month, every recipe I have tried has been a delicious-smelling fail. We’re talking, grapefruit curd soup bars. And maybe Martha Stewart is the only person who can successfully make Martha Stewart’s delicious-sounding polenta cake.

I don’t know.

All I know is, I have made a lot of life decisions lately, and each one has been complemented by a unique and utter kitchen fail.

I don’t like not being good at the things I know I’m good at.

I was honestly worried about another flop when my dear friend, Clarissa, and I decided to do the thing that it seems we have decided we do together: make baklava.

The last time we did so, we lovingly followed her grandmother’s recipe, with rosewater and lemon. We even called her parents midway through for guidance. Of course, those little, walnut-y diamonds turned out amazing.

The process takes several hours, during which time we like to talk life over each buttery layer. As the baklava rests in its syrupy throne, we perhaps have an intermittent tarot sesh or take a nice spring walk to the metaphysical shop.

This time around, before she arrived, I hesitantly wrote out what I thought should be the ingredients to make baklava express itself like pecan pie.

We’re talking salt and honey and mini chocolate chips and some quality bourbon that was donated in a jar because I don’t drink ever and there isn’t a point in my purchasing two tablespoons’ worth.

And just like that, it didn’t flop. With the help of an important friend, confidante, and fellow mystic, we encountered a success.

Happiest Birthday to you, Clarissa. I dearly appreciate your friendship, and I am so happy to know you.

One Year: Cacio e Pepe Polenta
Two Years: Absolutely Bomb Peanut Butter Cookies
Three Years: Glazed Lemon Olive Oil Cake
Four Years: Toasted Marshmallow Crispy Treats
Five Years: Cinnamon Sugar Doughnut Muffins
Six Years: Dark Chocolate Chunk Cookies with Toffee, Marshmallow, and Smoked Sea Salt

Pecan Pie Baklava
Fits one 9×13-inch pan

BAKLAVA:
1 lb frozen phyllo dough, thawed according to package instructions
4 sticks unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the pan
3 1/2 cups raw pecans, ground or chopped until gravel-y
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt

SYRUP:
1 cup water
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup honey
2 tbsp bourbon
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cinnamon stick (optional)

BAKLAVA:
Butter a 9×13-inch cake pan and set aside. Melt butter in a large saucepan. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix together pecans, chocolate chips, sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Keeping a damp towel handy, unroll one roll of phyllo dough (there should be two rolls of phyllo, each measuring half a pound). Place one layer of phyllo on the bottom of the prepared pan. Cover the rest of the phyllo with a damp towel while you use a pastry brush to gently paint the one layer of phyllo with melted butter. Repeat, layer by layer, with the rest of the half pound of phyllo. Gently sprinkle all of the nut filling over the phyllo, pressing it down afterward. Now is probably a good time to preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Layer the rest of the phyllo dough the same as you did before, one layer at a time, brushing each with melted butter. Bake for 30 minutes total, rotating halfway through.

SYRUP:
In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine water, sugar, honey, bourbon, vanilla extract, and the cinnamon stick, if using. Bring the mixture to a bubble, stirring to dissolve the sugar, then reduce to simmer. Let thicken, about 5-10 minutes, then remove from heat.

ASSEMBLY:
Slice baklava diagonally to create diamonds, immediately after removing from the oven. Pour syrup evenly over the baklava. Let cool completely this way, so the syrup can make gooey and sweet every single layer. Keep covered at room temp, up to three days.

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