Baklava Bites

Temps des Fêtes 2011
food and drink

BY: Nicole Young

Crafted in Tuscany by two families since 1901, Pisa (LCBO 254649)—in its distinctiveleaning bottle—is a deep amber liqueur made with a unique and secret blend of almonds, hazelnuts and pistachios distilled with a barrel-aged neutral spirit. The perfect flavour for the holidays—like liquid marzipan—it’s as mellow and warming as the Mediterranean. And what better dessert to serve your guests than the classic, ancient pastry of the Mediterranean, baklava. With layers of ground nuts, light buttery puff pastry, a touch of honey and hit of tangy orange, each bite and sip are nutty, buttery and honeyed without being cloyingly sweet—the orange sees to that! Tenderflake pre-rolled puff pastry makesthings easier but rolling out squares of puff will do too. Keep the puff pastry cold and keep oven door closed to get maximum rise out of each square. Shelled pistachios, substituted for the almonds, are beautiful and tasty.

1 pkg (1 lb/500 g) pre-rolled puff pastry
1 egg, lightly beaten
½ cup (125 mL) butter
1 cup (250 mL) finely chopped toasted walnuts
1 cup (250 mL) finely chopped toasted almonds
2 tsp (10 mL) cinnamon
½ cup (125 mL) lightly packed brown sugar

1 cup (250 mL) water
1 cup (250 mL) sugar
1 cup (250 mL) liquid honey
1 piece orange peel, 2 x 1 inches (5 x 2.5 cm), white pith removed

1 Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).

2 With the tip of a sharp knife, score each pastry square into 36 pieces (6 across and 6 down, 72 pieces total). It doesn’t matter if the knife goes all the way through in some places. Arrange pastry on 2 baking sheets. Brush with egg and bake in the top and bottom third of the oven for 5 minutes. Rotate pans and bake for another 5 minutes. The pastry should be golden brown. Remove from oven. Let cool slightly and use a serrated knife to cut the squares along the perforated lines.

3 In a saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in walnuts, almonds, cinnamon and brown sugar. Cook until the sugar is dissolved and the nuts are fragrant and golden, about 6 minutes. Let mixture cool slightly.

4 Arrange 36 squares of pastry side by side on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet. Cover with nut mixture and arrange remaining pastry squares overtop. Bake in the centre of the oven for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on rack.

5 In another saucepan, whisk together water, sugar and honey over medium-high heat until mixture comes to a boil. Add orange peel and boil for 10 minutes, or until it has reduced by half. Drizzle syrup over pastry squares. Let cool completely before serving.

Makes 36 pieces

What to Serve