Time for Baklava with Chef Molly

Chef at work shelling peas
Chef Molly making her baklava in the cafe!
Chef Molly making her baklava in the cafe!

Chef Molly’s Baklava started last year as part of a global cuisine dinner, but she liked it so much, she just decided to keep doing it! She actually never liked the Greek dessert as a child; she lacked the taste for nuts or honey. That changed in adulthood as she tried different types of natural honey. She makes it now with her own sauce, using local wild honey produced here on the island; Molly describes it as “super floral” and with an even stronger taste than traditional honey.

 Some people mix sugar into the nut filling, but Molly do not. The only sugar she adds is in the syrup that is poured over it. She likes to use mint, lemon and cardamom to add depth of flavor and balance out the honey and sugar. She’ll even add dry rose petals to the syrup if she has them!
Her most recent batch included grains of paradise seed, which she describes as a cross between black pepper and cardamom. This will be a permanent addition to the recipe as it makes it bright and peppery, with a hint of citrus. Molly loves being able to experiment with flavor combinations and different spices as she whips up delicious desserts for the inns and Coho!
Of course, she was kind enough to share her recipe with us. Make it yourself and let us know how it turned out!
Chef Molly’s Baklava
For the syrup
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup honey
1 cup water
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup dry rose buds
1 Tbsp dry mint
 
For the filling
1 pound blanched almonds, pistachios, walnuts, or any combination; finely chopped or coarsely ground (about 4 cup)
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground green cardamom pods
1 pound (about 24 sheets) phyllo dough
1 cup (2 sticks) melted butter
 
To make the syrup:
1. Stir the sugar, water, lemon juice, rose buds, and mint over low heat until the sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Stop stirring, increase the heat to medium, and cook until the mixture is slightly syrupy, about 5 minutes (it will register 225 degrees on a candy thermometer). Strain. Let cool.
2. Combine all the filling ingredients.
3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 12-by-9-inch or 13-by-9-inch baking pan or 15-by-10-inch jelly roll pan.
4. Place a sheet of phyllo in the prepared pan and lightly brush with butter. Repeat with 7 more sheets. Spread with half of the filling. Top with 8 more sheets, brushing each with butter. Use any torn sheets in the middle layer. Spread with the remaining nut mixture and end with a top layer of 8 sheets, continuing to brush each with butter. Trim any overhanging edges.
5. Using a sharp knife, cut 6 equal lengthwise strips (about 1 3/4 inches wide) through the top layer of pastry. Make 1 1/2-inch-wide diagonal cuts across the strips to form diamond shapes.
6. Just before baking, lightly sprinkle the top of the pastry with cold water. This inhibits the pastry from curling. Bake for 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 300 degrees and bake until golden brown, about 15 additional minutes.
7. Cut through the scored lines. Drizzle the cooled syrup slowly over the hot baklava and let cool for at least 4 hours. Cover and store at room temperature for up to 1 week. If the baklava dries out while being stored, drizzle with a little additional hot syrup. 

 

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