Time to get my entry in for this month’s Royal Foodie Joust. I have been a little slack and haven’t had a chance to get involved in the last few months (sorry Jenn!). If this is the first time you’re reading this, head on over, register and get ready to do recipe “battle” with a bunch of keen food bloggers all ready to experiment with the latest months ingredients. Speaking of, the winner of last months Joust, Eating Club Vancouver, chose coffee, balck peppercorns and honey. I didn’t really have to time to think about it but it had me stumped!
After a bit of research I came across a very “different” recipe for baklava. The original recipe, which I altered slightly, can be found here. Baklava or “baklavas” as we say in Greek, is that famous, very sweet dessert found throughout Greece, Turkey, Lebanon and various parts of the Middle East. It’s basically buttered layers of filo pastry, mixed with nuts and spices and has a sugar or honey based syrup poured over it. It’s sticky, sweet and quite delicious. There are many variations of this recipe and each country has their signature way of producing it. The Greek method incorporates walnuts, honey and cinnamon. The Lebanese version (the one I buy here in Australia) uses pistachios and a sugar syrup.
I was intrigued because this recipe utilised coffee in the syrup, flavoured with cardamom and cinnamon. Perfect for this months Joust ingredients! The only “tricky” part were the black peppercorns and I had a hard time incorporating them. Finally, I decided to let them soak in the syrup and then removed them before using it. I thought they may have added a slight peppery warmth to the syrup but I could barely detect it. Oh well! At least I tried! The other variation I made was to use a mixture of walnuts, pecans and pistachios. Although this recipe isn’t authentic as such, I couldn’t resist the flavours. They all married perfectly. The coffee was not at all overpowering and actually complemented the honey. The cardamom was subtle and the cinnamon gave it that perfect “spiciness”. So I present to you, “Baklavas with a coffee and honey syrup flavoured with cardamom and cinnamon”.
- 1 packet of store bought filo pastry
- 50 grams of melted butter for brushing the filo
- 1 cup of espresso coffee
- 1 cup of sugar
- 1/2 a cup of honey
- 1 tbsp of black peppercorns
- 200 grams of shelled walnuts
- 100 grams of shelled pistachios
- 100 grams of pecans
- 1/2 a teaspoon of ground cardamom
- 1-1/2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
- Pre heat your oven to 160 deg C. I used a 20cm x 10cm baking dish which was perfect for this recipe.
- Make the syrup by placing the coffee, honey and sugar in a saucepan and let it simmer for 5-10 mins till the sugar dissolves and the mixture slightly thickens. Add the peppercorns, remove form heat and set aside.
- Place the nuts in a food processor and give them a good whizz till everything becomes finely chopped. transfer to a bowl, add the spices and half of the coffee syrup (make sure that no peppercorns make their way into this). Stir everything together and resist trying to eat this!
- Now, the TRICKY PART. Filo is very thin and delicate so make sure when you remove it that you cover it with a damp cloth as this will prevent the pastry from drying out. What is the perfect amount for baklavas? Well, that’s the $64,000 question! Every recipe I looked said something different. I don’t think it really matters. I used 10 pieces of filo pastry (carefully cut to match my baking dish) for each layer.
- BRUSH each layer with the melted butter and add them one by one to the bottom of the greased pan. Add half the nut mixture an spread it quite evenly. REPEAT once more to construct the next layer finishing up with the filo on the top. Give this a good brush with the melted butter and score the baklava diagonally creating a diamond pattern.
- Cook in the oven for about 45 mins -1 hour (mine took 50 mins)
- Let it cool for a few mins and then pour the remainder of the syrup over it, making sure to discard the peppercorns. Let it soak for a good 2 hours but it’s preferable to leave it longer, before you enjoy it. Indulge with a glass of muscat!