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“P” is for Paklava

CookingAddic Yes, I wrote Paklava with a “P”. It is not a typo. I did not mean to write Baklava. Paklava is the spelling/pronunciation used by many Armenian families, including my own.

“P” is for Paklava

And today I want to bring you the traditional Armenian Paklava that I grew up making and eating. For Armenians, Paklava is a staple that adorns almost every family gathering and holiday. It looks intimidating and complicated – all those flaky, buttery, nutty, sweet layers. But it’s really quite simple once you get the technique down. And it actually requires very few ingredients. Give it a try – you won’t be disappointed!
Ingredients
  • For the Paklava
  • 1 lb walnuts (4 cups)
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. ground clove
  • 1 lb phyllo dough, thawed (follow the directions on the package to thaw)
  • 2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter (20 tablespoons)

  • For the Simple Syrup
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/3 cups water
  • 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • Cinnamon stick
“P” is for Paklava

Instructions
  1. Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees. Get out a 9 X 13 baking pan (glass or ceramic) and set aside. Also get out a pastry brush with natural bristles (i.e. not a silicone pastry brush, it is too rough and will tear the phyllo dough).
  2. In a food processor, finely chop the walnuts. Add in the granulated sugar and spices and pulse a few times to combine. Transfer to a large bowl.
  3. Melt the butter and set aside.
  4. Open and unroll your package of phyllo dough. Now don’t dilly-dally through the next steps or your phyllo dough will dry out and become impossible to work with.
  5. Using your pastry brush, lightly brush the baking pan with the melted butter. Lay one sheet of phyllo dough in the pan, brushing with melted butter, and folding to make the entire sheet fit. Repeat this with 4 more sheets of phyllo dough, always buttering the layers. Sprinkle on ~1/4 of the ground nut/spice mixture (should be ~1 cup) and spread evenly.
  6. Now repeat that process 3 more times, but this time only using 3 sheets of phyllo dough for each layer. So that would be: 3 sheets of phyllo dough (always buttering in between each sheet!), 1/4 of the ground nut/spice mixture, 3 sheets of phyllo dough, 1/4 of the ground nut/spice mixture, 3 sheets of phyllo dough, 1/4 of the ground nut/spice mixture. At this point, if you have any leftover ground nut/spice mixture, you can just add it in with this last layer and spread evenly.
  7. To make the top, layer 4 sheets of phyllo dough, always buttering the layers. Using a very sharp knife, make vertical cuts through the Paklava. I usually make 3 vertical cuts (so you end up with 4 rows total). Then cut diagonally across the pan to make diamond shapes. If you have any butter left over, pour it between the cut marks.
  8. Bake in pre-heated oven for 30-35 minutes. You want the Paklava to be a light golden color – not too dark. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack.
  9. While the Paklava is baking, make your simple syrup. Combine all ingredients in small sauce pan. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, let cool slightly and strain.
  10. Pour the simple syrup between the cut marks of the Paklava. I don’t usually use the entire batch of simple syrup for this. I find using ~2/3 of the simple syrup recipe gives about the right sweetness level to the Paklava (you can save the rest in the refrigerator for ~1 week for another use).
  11. Allow the Paklava to sit in the baking pan for 1-2 hours to give the simple syrup time to soak up into the layers. When ready to serve, you can transfer individual diamonds to doilies or cupcake liners and arrange on a serving platter. Enjoy Paklava at room temperature.

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