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botanical baklawa (baklava)

Ingredients

1 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus an extra tablespoon for greasing
16 ounces walnuts, about 4 cups medium-chopped
5 ounces powdered sugar, about 1 cup
1 tablespoon ground cardamom
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
16-ounce container of filo dough sheets (do not open until the recipe tells you to)
16 ounces honey
1 to 3 teaspoons rosewater (to taste) *
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons finely chopped pistachios
3 tablespoons crumbled edible dried rose petals (optional) **

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.
  2. Use the extra tablespoon of olive oil to grease a rimmed sheet pan (at least 12″ x 16″).
  3. Combine chopped walnuts, powdered sugar, cardamom, and kosher salt, and set aside.
  4. Once everything is mixed together, open the filo dough container and place half of the filo dough on the sheet pan. Be careful to work somewhat quickly so that the filo dough does not dry out.
  5. Spread the chopped walnut mixture evenly over the filo dough.
  6. Place the rest of the filo dough on top of the walnut mixture.
  7. Cut the baklawa into diamonds by slicing straight across in the short direction, then diagonally in the other direction (see more instructive photos here). It’s best to work with a very sharp or serrated knife so that you don’t tear, stretch, or dishevel the filo. It’s alright if a few of the pieces go a little awry, but you want everything to stay pretty lined up.
  8. Drizzle the olive oil evenly all over the baklawa.
  9. Cook the baklawa in the oven for about 25 to 30 minutes, until it has lightly browned. (Start checking after 15 minutes of baking).
  10. While the baklawa bakes, gradually add the rosewater to the honey, until the honey is properly fragranced. The potency of rosewater varies a lot from brand to brand, and also depends on freshness, so taste as you go. You should be able to distinctly taste the rose, but it should not taste soapy or perfumey.
  11. Cool the baklawa at room temperature in the pan for about 5 to 10 minutes, until it’s still warm, but not radiating heat from the top. Once cooled to this point, immediately pour the rosewater honey evenly over the top.
  12. Immediately top with ground pistachios and rose petals.
  13. Let it sit until it comes to room temperature, at least one hour.
  14. Cut through the same lines you made before baking and serve. Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or the freezer for up to 3 months.

Notes

* You can find rosewater at Middle Eastern or Indian markets. You can also find it online (just make sure you find an edible one, rather than a cosmetic one). Different varieties vary in strength, so you should taste as you go.

** Dried edible rose petals can be found in most tea or spice shops, or online. Most of the rose flavor in this recipe comes from the rose water, but if you leave these out, just add a touch more rosewater to compensate.

Note: If you have any leftover baklawa, you can freeze it and turn it into baklawa frozen yogurt. In the frozen yogurt recipe, add about a teaspoon of rosewater to the yogurt and substitute cinnamon for half of the cardamom.