Pecan Baklava with Tahini

Pecan Baklava with Tahini

The word “baklava” comes from the Arabic word “bokouliyat,” or legumes (a reference to nuts), making this popular dessert one that is often heavily focused on incorporating pounded hazelnuts, pistachios or walnuts, sometimes mixed with rose water, cinnamon or nutmeg, in the center of layers of crispy buttered phyllo pastry. 


Baklava is a crowd-pleaser throughout the Middle East, Greece and Turkey. Every country has its spin on fillings and how it's shaped. Some bake it and cut it into finger-sized diamond shapes with the layers of phyllo dough rising two inches high; some bakers roll it like small tiny cigars; and others make it like a dumpling sack and fill it with cream and pistachios. 


Baklava is a dessert that can be baked in many ways, and it is fun to update and adapt to different crowds. As we hope for Thanksgiving this year around a table with family and friends, our baklava this year will be adapted with pecans to make a pecan baklava with tahini. Pecan is a nut indigenous to North America and one not ordinarily used for baklava filling but for traditional pecan pie during the holidays.

 

The inclusion of the traditional baklava honey syrup along with tahini will make this dessert a great melange of western and eastern flavors, and a guaranteed holiday crowd favorite. You can buy phyllo dough from any Greek or Arab food store, just be careful to not overexpose it to air as it is paper thin and can dry quickly and crumble like a delicate, old manuscript. You can unroll your phyllo and add a damp kitchen towel or paper towel on top so that it retains some moisture as you’re working with the phyllo and creating your baklava layers. 


It helps to start by prepping the sugar syrup or ‘asal,’ the “honey” that’s used on the baklava so you can have it on hand while preparing the baklava. You can do this and then store in a jar. This will keep for a month in the fridge, so if you feel like you want to go lighter on the syrup, you can keep the remaining syrup for another round of baklava baking. 


Thaw your phyllo pastry a few hours before you start preparing your baklava so that you can be sure it’s easy to work with. When you unroll your phyllo, there will be enough to create layered baklava that when baked, will puff and reveal tens of layers of dough. 


A half-sheet-sized pan (17.25" L x 12.25" W) will help you create a baklava that is well-proportioned and enough for a gathering of 8-10 people to have a nice-sized serving. You’ll have scraps or maybe enough left over to reuse it another time depending on how big the roll of phyllo is. Fold what dough remains in an airtight container and put it in the freezer to reuse again in the future.

PECAN BAKLAVA WITH TAHINI

CATEGORY

Dessert

SERVINGS

20

PREP TIME

1.5 Hours

Author: Dukkan Foods


INGREDIENTS

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



DIRECTIONS

For the honey syrup 

Step 1

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. 

 

Step 2

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 

 

Step 1

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! 

 

Step 2

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

 

Step 3

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. 

 

Step 4

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! 

 

Step 5

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. 

 

Step 6

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. 

 

Step 7

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. 

 

Step 8

Add a light flourish of tahini before individually serving.


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