PECAN BAKLAVA WITH TAHINI
1 roll of phyllo pastry
5 cups of pecans
1 ½ teaspoons of nutmeg
3 cups of melted ghee or clarified butter (or more as needed)
For the honey syrup:
3 cups of sugar
½ cup of water (or enough to just cover the sugar by a hairline)
A squeeze of lemon juice
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
For the honey syrup
Add your sugar to a small pot and cover it with water making sure the water isn’t more than a hairline above the sugar. On a medium-low heat, leave the sugar to dissolve in the water.
When the sugar dissolves, turn the heat to low and add a squeeze of lemon juice. This will allow it to get thicker. Leave it on low for 5 minutes and then turn off the heat. Mix in the vanilla extract and give it a stir and let to rest. The sugar will continue to thicken as it cools.
For the Pecan Baklava with Tahini
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. You can use this time to slightly toast for about 5 minutes so the pecans’ flavors and oils can start to come out. Do not toast them thoroughly or else they will burn when you’re baking the baklava!
Pound the pecans or blitz in a food processor but make sure you don’t turn it into powder. You want a nice crumbly texture. Combine with two spoons of honey syrup and two spoons of tahini and mix by hand until everything is evenly coated and combined. Set this aside for a few minutes while you prepare the phyllo layers
Melt the ghee by warming it over a low steady flame. You don’t want the ghee to brown and caramelize but simply allow it to turn to golden-yellow liquid. This will happen very quickly, so keep your eye on it. Remove from the heat.
Start by laying your pan sheet on the phyllo so you can carefully cut around the pan to cut layers that can be layered into the pan sheet. A very sharp knife, steady hand and patience will help your baklava look beautiful by the end so be patient!
Start by laying 3-4 sheets of phyllo in the base of the sheet pan. Using a pastry brush, brush a layer of ghee all over the phyllo. The phyllo dough will absorb and turn yellow but don’t worry, being gentle while brushing will ensure you won’t rip the dough. Repeat this process three more times.
Spread the pecans on top of the layer of phyllo, and repeat the process with the remaining phyllo four times or so until you reach the top of the sheet pan. Create a diamond shape pattern in the baklava by carefully cutting lines horizontally in opposite directions so that they criss cross. Once that’s done, carefully brush ghee on the top layer so when baked the top layers have a crispy golden texture and color. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden on top.
Allow the baklava to cool. Pour honey syrup all over the baklava ensuring you pour some between each piece but make sure it’s not swimming in syrup or else it will lose its crispiness! Baklava is best prepared the night before when given a chance to soak the honey syrup. You can also prepare it in the morning if you want to serve it for dessert during dinner.
Add a light flourish of tahini before individually serving.