baklava: [bah-kluh-vah, bah-kluh-vah also bah-kluh-vah, bah-kluh-vah] noun
Popular in Greece, Turkey and other Mediterranean areas, baklava is an exceedingly sweet dessert made up of many layers of phyllo pastry that has been generously brushed with butter and filled with a mixture of chopped nuts, sugar and spices. It is formed in a square or rectangular pan and scored into triangles or diamond shapes before it is baked. A very sweet, and sometimes spiced sugar-and-honey-based syrup is prepared while it is baking, then poured over the baked pastry to give the baklava its signature sweetness and moisture.
(Note that phyllo is often spelled filo and fillo. This box of frozen phyllo can’t even make up its mind.)
If you delve into the preparation of baklava, you will find proponents of adding hot syrup to cold pastry, hot syrup to hot pastry, and cold syrup to hot pastry. Each camp declares that their technique produces the crispiest (and least soggy) result. After experimentation, we have fallen into the first camp. There is an alchemy that seems to happen before your eyes as you pour the hot syrup over the pastry. The heat of the syrup seems to penetrate the pastry and melds the flavors and textures together in an optimum way. Before serving, the dessert is cut into its pre-scored shapes and sometimes dusted with more ground nuts. Try our Chocolate Hazelnut Baklava, seen below.