Prep Time20 mins
Cooking Time40 mins
A slightly less-sweet riff on one of my favourite pastries, this pecan baklava is doused in a spiced molasses syrup that hints at Christmas but is delicious any time of the year!
Gosh, I love baklava! The way the phyllo splinters in your mouth and the crunch of the filling. The stickiness you lick off your fingers afterwards - my best! Usually, baklava is quite sweet - understandably so as it is normally drenched in honey - but I hope the Greeks will forgive me going a bit rogue and giving the bees a break! My substitution of choice? The rich, dark Molasses sugar from Natura Sugars which, for me, just shouts Christmas!
It's as if the sugar, loaded with treacle flavour, was made to be used in mince pies, fruit cake and combined with spices. In fact, I often eat it out of the bag with a spoon when I'm craving something sweet! Because it's unrefined, it is loaded with all the natural flavour sugar cane provides. Its slight saltiness makes it perfect for balancing the sweetness of desserts and its damp texture makes the most incredibly moist chocolate cakes and brownies. And the exciting news is that you can now buy it right HERE on my online shop!
But for now, we're talking about baklava. It's surprisingly simple to make and I find brushing the ghee, layering the nuts and papery thin layers of phyllo extremely therapeutic. The molasses syrup is not the only twist I've made to this baklava, the filling is laden with pecan nuts, candied citrus peels and all the spices that shout 'Fa la la la la!' It's like a mince pie and baklava had a tasty love child. Make sure you pour the syrup over the baklava while it is still hot from the oven so it soaks up every last drop. You should technically wait for it to cool completely before serving, but once you taste warm baklava with a scoop of ice cream? Well, then you can take that part of the recipe as a 'suggestion'!
Preheat oven to 150°C, 130°C fan forced . For the syrup, place all ingredients and 300ml water in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring, for 3-5 minutes until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and cool.
Place chopped pecan nuts in a bowl with the citrus and spices and stir to combine.
For the phyllo pastry, divide the amount of sheets in the box by 4. (Each box seems to have different amount of sheets (here in SA) so divide them as equally as possible. My box had 18 sheets so I divided them into 5, 5, 4 and 4 sheets).
Work with a few sheets of phyllo at a time and cover the rest with a lightly damp tea towel until ready to use. Brush a sheet of phyllo with ghee, then sprinkle about 4 tbsp of nut and spice mixture on top. Layer with another sheet of filo, brush with ghee and sprinkle over 4 tbsp nut mixture. Repeat this process until you have layered ¼ of the sheets of phyllo with nut and spice mixture. Roll the phyllo into a long log lengthways. Make sure that the roll is not too loose or too tight. Repeat until you have made 4 logs.
Cut each log into 2.5cm-wide rounds. Arrange pieces close together with cut sides facing up in a lightly greased large baking tray with high sides (approximately 20cm x 30cm). Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. Pour the cooled syrup over the hot baklava and let it rest.
Recipe by Katelyn Allegra
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