Apricot and Pistachio Baklava with Orange-Cardamom Syrup

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Baklava is basically a little party in your mouth. It's truly delicious and worth every minute it takes to create. Made of layer upon layer of buttered phyllo filled with chopped nuts and dried fruit, baklava is held together with a special syrup that changes the texture of this pastry from flaky and crisp, to tender and soft!

Baklava is basically a little party in your mouth. It’s truly delicious and worth every minute it takes to create. Made of layer upon layer of buttered phyllo filled with chopped nuts and dried fruit, baklava is held together with a special syrup that changes the texture of this pastry from flaky and crisp, to tender and soft….but yet it’s still flaky and crisp, too. So hard to explain! You’ll just have to experience it for yourself. #Athens #Baklava #Phyllo #Filo

Apricot and Pistachio Baklava with Orange-Cardamom Syrup

So don’t look at this recipe and get all overwhelmed right off the bat! Yes, it’s alot of steps, but once you get in the groove, you’re going to see (and experience later) that this baklava stuff is really worth it. I will post pictures with each step beneath the recipe box below, so you can see the entire process.

Before you know it, you’ll be making this every year for Christmas like we do. Be warned – once you begin giving this as gifts to your special people, they will EXPECT it each year. I think it’s a lovely tradition!

Baklava is basically a little party in your mouth. It's truly delicious and worth every minute it takes to create. Made of layer upon layer of buttered phyllo filled with chopped nuts and dried fruit, baklava is held together with a special syrup that changes the texture of this pastry from flaky and crisp, to tender and soft!

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Helpful Tips for Making Baklava

  1. Don’t try to make baklava by yourself. The phyllo dough is a real challenge since it’s got to be kept covered at all times so it can retain some moisture. When making baklava, just resign yourself to the fact that you are going to need 100 hands, at least….or just a couple is really nice, too. My husband, BDP, and I have gotten to where we make a good team and have a pretty sound baklava system. (Don’t you just love good SYSTEM???)

    Baklava is basically a little party in your mouth. It's truly delicious and worth every minute it takes to create. Made of layer upon layer of buttered phyllo filled with chopped nuts and dried fruit, baklava is held together with a special syrup that changes the texture of this pastry from flaky and crisp, to tender and soft.

  2. When you’re working with the phyllo dough to make the buttered layers, don’t get frustrated if it tears a bit as you pick it up. Just lay the pieces on top of the last buttered sheet, dabbing them with a little more butter. Once the baklava is baked, nobody will ever know the difference! Oh, and speaking of the melted butter, you’re going to need a good silicone pastry brush for this baklava job – very important.
  3. Baked baklava tastes best 24 hours after your pour the syrup on! Keep this in mind when preparing for an event or when gifting. But also remember that baklava will keep for up to 5 days and does well in the freezer, both before and after baking. It will keep in the freezer for up to 6 months easily, so you can have baklava all year long! (if you don’t eat it all first)

Printable Apricot Pistachio Baklava with Orange Cardamom Syrup Recipe:

Apricot Pistachio Baklava with Orange-Cardamom Syrup

Baklava is such a wonderful thing! Flaky, crisp, tender and soft....all at the same time. I love the hint of orange the syrup adds. We enjoy making baklava each Christmas to give as gifts - it's become one of our favorite traditions every year. Recipe adapted from Fine Cooking, Issue 92. Makes 24-30 pieces
Course Dessert
Cuisine Holiday, Mediterranean
Keyword baklava, dessert, holiday

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. phyllo dough, from your grocer's freezer section, thawed (I use Athens fillo dough - each box contains two 8 oz. rolls of phyllo, each containing about twenty 9 x 14 sheets)

Filling

  • 12 oz. 2 1/2 cups unsalted, shelled raw pistachios
  • 12 oz. 2 cups dried apricots
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter

Syrup

  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cups orange juice
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 1 tsp. ground cardamom
  • kosher salt

Instructions

Make the Filling

  1. Put pistachios, apricots, and sugar into a food processor bowl; process until mixture is finely chopped, pulsing as needed to achieve the texture of small, dried lentils.

  2. Meanwhile, while you make the filling in the food processor, remove the box of phyllo sheets from refrigeration, letting them sit on the counter to remove some of the chill.  (This will make them easier much easier to work with.) 

  3. Assemble the Baklava 

  4. Unfold one pack of the phyllo sheets and stack them so they lie flat on a rimmed baking sheet; cover the stack with plastic wrap, making sure there is excess plastic wrap covering all four edges of phyllo stack. 

  5. Dampen and wring out a kitchen towel and drape it on top of the plastic wrap; this will hold the plastic wrap in place and also prevents the phyllo from drying out. **Please Note: This damp towel part is a very key to working with the phyllo sheet! Just be sure the damp towel never actually comes into contact with the phyllo sheets themselves - it should always rest on the plastic wrap.

  6. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat; using a pastry brush, brush the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking pan (glass or metal is fine) liberally with some of the butter.  

  7. Remove a sheet of phyllo dough from the stack (re-covering the rest of the stack each time you remove a sheet of phyllo), placing it in the bottom of the baking pan; brush the phyllo sheet with melted butter. 
  8. Repeat until you have layered and buttered 10 sheets, the sprinkle with 1/3 of the prepared filling, spreading out evenly. (Take care not to soak each sheet with too much butter since you'll eventually wind up with 40 sheets of buttered phyllo when you're all finished.)

  9. Repeat layering and buttering with 10 more phyllo sheets, then sprinkle on another 1/3 of the prepared filling.  Again, repeat layering and buttering with 10 more phyllo sheets, sprinkling on the final 1/3 of the prepared filling.  

  10. Top final layer of filling with the last 10 sheets of the buttered phyllo. Cover pan loosely with plastic wrap and place baklava into the freezer for 30 minutes - this will make cutting the baklava much easier.

Bake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Position the oven rack in the center of the oven. 

  2. Before baking the baklava, use a thin, sharp knife in a gentle sawing motion to cut the baklava on the diagonal at 1 1/2-inch intervals in a diamond pattern. Be sure to cut the pastry all the way to the bottom of the pan (an electric knife really works wells here).  

  3. Take care not to compress the pastry by pressing down on it too much; these incisions cut into the pastry mark the serving portions as well as providing pathways for the flavored syrup to penetrate the pastry after baking.

  4. If there is any melted butter remaining, pour it over the baklava now. Bake the pan of baklava, uncovered, until golden brown, approx. 35-40 minutes. 

  5. Transfer the pan of baklava to a cooling rack and let cool completely. Run a knife along the cut lines of the baklava and around the edges to help the syrup absorb more evenly. 

Prepare the Syrup

  1. Place sugar, orange juice, and zest into a small sauce pan and bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved and the syrup is clear, approx. 5-7 minutes.
  2. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the cardamom and salt. Pour the syrup evenly over the entire surface of the baklava, allowing it to run down into the cut marks and along the sides of the pan.  Let baklava to cool to room temperature before serving.

Helpful Tips

  1. 1. When making baklava, you need about 10 hands.....or at least FOUR.  Make baklava when you have a partner available! 

    2. Baklava is best about 24 hours after the syrup is added. Don't make the syrup ahead of time - if it simmers too long, it will be the wrong consistency when poured over the baklava and will crystallize, keeping the syrup from running down into the incisions of the dough and around the edge of the pan. 

    3. Baklava will keep at room temperature for up to 5 days, though the texture changes over that time.  

Step-By-Step Photos for Making Baklava:

Baklava is basically a little party in your mouth. It's truly delicious and worth every minute it takes to create. Made of layer upon layer of buttered phyllo filled with chopped nuts and dried fruit, baklava is held together with a special syrup that changes the texture of this pastry from flaky and crisp, to tender and soft!

Unfold one pack of the phyllo sheets and stack them so they lie flat on a rimmed baking sheet; cover the stack with plastic wrap, making sure there is excess plastic wrap covering all four edges of phyllo stack. Dampen and wring out a kitchen towel and drape it on top of the plastic wrap; this will hold the plastic wrap in place and also prevents the phyllo from drying out. **Please Note: This damp towel part is a very key to working with the phyllo sheet! Just be sure the damp towel never actually comes into contact with the phyllo sheets themselves – it should always rest on the plastic wrap.

Baklava is basically a little party in your mouth. It's truly delicious and worth every minute it takes to create. Made of layer upon layer of buttered phyllo filled with chopped nuts and dried fruit, baklava is held together with a special syrup that changes the texture of this pastry from flaky and crisp, to tender and soft!

Remove a sheet of phyllo dough from the stack (re-covering the rest of the stack each time you remove a sheet of phyllo), placing it in the bottom of the baking pan; brush the phyllo sheet with melted butter. You may want some friends to help keep the system moving!

Baklava is basically a little party in your mouth. It's truly delicious and worth every minute it takes to create. Made of layer upon layer of buttered phyllo filled with chopped nuts and dried fruit, baklava is held together with a special syrup that changes the texture of this pastry from flaky and crisp, to tender and soft!

Repeat until you have layered and buttered 10 sheets, the sprinkle with 1/3 of the prepared filling, spreading out evenly. (Take care not to soak each sheet with too much butter since you’ll eventually wind up with 40 sheets of buttered phyllo when you’re all finished.) Repeat layering and buttering with 10 more phyllo sheets, then sprinkle on another 1/3 of the prepared filling.

Baklava is basically a little party in your mouth. It's truly delicious and worth every minute it takes to create. Made of layer upon layer of buttered phyllo filled with chopped nuts and dried fruit, baklava is held together with a special syrup that changes the texture of this pastry from flaky and crisp, to tender and soft!

Repeat layering and buttering with 10 more phyllo sheets, sprinkling on the final 1/3 of the prepared filling. Top final layer with last 10 layers of butter and phyllo dough.

Baklava is basically a little party in your mouth. It's truly delicious and worth every minute it takes to create. Made of layer upon layer of buttered phyllo filled with chopped nuts and dried fruit, baklava is held together with a special syrup that changes the texture of this pastry from flaky and crisp, to tender and soft!

Before baking the baklava, use a thin, sharp knife in a gentle sawing motion to cut the baklava on the diagonal at 1 1/2-inch intervals in a diamond pattern. Be sure to cut the pastry all the way to the bottom of the pan (an electric knife really works wells here). Take care not to compress the pastry by pressing down on it too much; these incisions cut into the pastry mark the serving portions as well as providing pathways for the flavored syrup to penetrate the pastry after baking.

Baklava is basically a little party in your mouth. It's truly delicious and worth every minute it takes to create. Made of layer upon layer of buttered phyllo filled with chopped nuts and dried fruit, baklava is held together with a special syrup that changes the texture of this pastry from flaky and crisp, to tender and soft!

Make the syrup according to recipe instructions and pour evenly over the entire surface of the baklava, allowing it to run down into the cut marks and along the sides of the pan. Let baklava to cool to room temperature before serving.

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Let’s Get You Cookin’,
Chef Alli 

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Chef Alli

Chef Alli is a home-grown Kansas girl on a mission to strengthen families through enabling kitchen confidence, educating the family cook, and encouraging better food relationships. She believes with her whole heart that time spent with our loved ones and our overall quality of life is greatly enhanced by nutritious food made at home with simple, wholesome ingredients. She loves being able to connect and share this passion with others through her website, her social media presence, and her coveted speaking engagements.

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