I’ll be the first to admit that I am a sucker for baklava. I typically only make baklava once or twice throughout the year, but when I do I know it is going to be quickly consumed and enjoyed by most everyone in my family. So not too long ago I decided to pick up a box of phyllo dough, something I don’t really pay much attention to while shopping at a grocery store, and come up with a riff on a baklava (much like I always do) and turn it into a seasonal pumpkin spice baklava. It was not only a real treat, but the pumpkin spice turned it into something special.
Pumpkin spice is generally a blend of ground cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves. The aroma of those spices alone puts you in the Fall season mood which we are nearing an end to soon. When combined with crushed walnuts and a syrup drenched phyllo, well you cannot go wrong.
Let’s get started.
- 1 box of phyllo dough, thawed
- 2 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter, melted
- 4 cups walnuts, chopped and crushed
- 1 tbsp pumpkin spice
Ingredients for the syrup:
- 1 cup of granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1 tsp pumpkin spice
- 1 cup of water
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- pinch of salt
Start by making the syrup. You want to take this route as the syrup needs to cool before pouring it all over the cooked baklava. One of my favorite parts of making baklava. Maybe it is the sound, who knows.
To a sauce pan, add the the water, honey, sugar, pumpkin spice, salt, and lemon juice. Give it a good stir, and bring it up to a boil. Once boiled, the sugar should be dissolved. Give another good stir, then remove it from the heat and let it cool.
Now onto the labor…
One thing to keep in mind when making this baklava (and many recipes) is to have everything ready. That means the crushed nut mixture, the butter, and the phyllo dough.
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.
Start by blending your nut mixture. To a food processor, add the walnuts and pulse them until you have a pretty fine mixture. Add the pumpkin spice and give another few pulses. Pour this into a bowl for assembly.
Now what I have learned over time when making baklava is to trim the phyllo sheets, if you can, to fit your baking dish. I simply put the clean baking dish, typically a 13×9 pan, and place it on top of the phyllo sheets. I then run my knife through the sheets and cut to size, then cover the sheets with a towel as these can dry out rather quick.
Use a pastry brush and brush some melted butter on the bottom and sides of the baking dish.
Your first layer is going to be 10 buttered sheets of phyllo (lay a piece of phyllo dough into the baking dish, lightly butter the sheet, then repeat with the 9 remaining sheets. Boring, I know.
After 10 sheets of buttered phyllo, add 3/4 cup of the nut mixture and spread it all over the phyllo. Give a light and gentle press to the mixture should you desire.
Now, 5 more buttered sheets of phyllo. Same process, then after 5 sheets, add another 3/4 cup of nuts spread all over the top. Do this 4 more times. I know…. boring.
Finish with another 10 buttered sheets of phyllo, then you will carefully, but forcefully (have a large, sharp knife), cut into triangles, however you see fit. You want to get to the bottom of the dish when cutting. It is a bit sticky to cut through.
Granted this takes a bit of time to make due to the thin layers of phyllo and brushing of butter but it is well worth every second.
Bake in the oven for 75 minutes. The top should be golden brown.
Remove this from the oven and immediately ladle the syrup all over, and I mean all over, the baked baklava. Now the tough part… letting this mixture cool. Once cooled, lift a beautiful baklava diamond out and enjoy. The beauty is that baklava gets so much better with time, and I mean like a day or two later. That syrup really sets in to the layers and just makes this pumpkin spiced baklava so much better.
That pumpkin spice though…. It really brought the baklava to another level and was a perfect twist for this particular season. Enjoy!