If you’ve never had a taste of Baklava, you’re missing out on a real treat. This perfectly flaky, syrupy, and sweet desert is not for those who think Biscotti is sweet. No, no, no. Baklava is the cheesecake of the pastry world. It’s that rich. One bite and you almost think you’ve had enough. One little problem, –you can’t stop. Two bites, three, and then five later. Yep, that’s just right. Okay, so I’m a big fan.
Baklava has been a favorite in Mediterranean countries for years and is made using nuts, butter, sugar, and Phyllo dough. After it has been baked to perfection, a sweet syrup is poured over the top, which becomes absorbed into the layers to create a desert so tasty it’s almost sinful.
The History of Baklava
This history of Baklava is shrouded in mystery, mainly because so many groups claim to have been the first to discover how to make this desert, –and who can blame them? If you were to ask the Greeks, they would assure you they were the creators. The Lebanese claim the Greeks stole the Baklava recipe from them. The Turks believe the tasty treat began with them, and that the Viziers and Pashas owned the recipe first.
Ask any one of them whose is best, and of course they all claim theirs is. The surprising truth of the matter is that history points to Baklava as being of Assyrian origin. According to historical records, Assyrians began baking similar sounding treats in the 8th century BC. Their deserts were made with thin layers of dough covered in nuts. Honey was poured of the top of the dough after it was baked to add it’s delectable sweetness.
In general, this desert was made only for special occasions, and only for those who could afford such a luxury. Men with little to no money were often heard saying “I’m too poor to have Baklava in my home.” Sad, indeed.
Times have changed, though, as has Baklava. Now this desert can be eaten at any time and anyone can enjoy its rich flavors without having to be, –well, rich.
The Low Down on Phyllo
While most of the ingredients, like butter, walnuts, and sugar, used to make Baklava are common and need no explanation, we thought we’d take a moment and explain exactly what Phyllo dough is for those who are unfamiliar with this type of dough.
Phyllo, also called filo, is a Greek word that means “thin as a leaf” or simply “leaf” and refers to dough made of unleavened flour that is stretched until it becomes thin. While for many recipes, Phyllo would be too thin to use, its paper-thin qualities make it perfect for this desert. Because it is so thin, it becomes extra crisp when baked, giving the finished Baklava a unique and memorable texture; so memorable I can almost taste it now.
If you have a party, get-together, coffee social, or other gathering and need a delicious treat to satisfy all of your guests, Baklava is just right. Fresh and hand-made, it really is almost a delicacy among desserts. While our Baklava may have a rich history, it is also tasty and delicious.