10 Tips for delicious baklava

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10 Tips for perfect baklava, Many cooks are intimidated by the process of constructing baklava, but it's not as difficult as you might think.
Baklava, the traditional Turkish pastry, is constructed of layers upon layers of flaky, butter-drenched phyllo dough filled with nuts and soaked with a sweet syrup. The result is a rich, flavor-packed dessert that will keep you coming back for more. Many cooks are intimidated by the process of constructing baklava, but it's not as difficult as you might think. Here are 10 tips to help you tackle baklava with ease.

>>>Click here for a traditional baklava recipe

1. Phyllo dough, which you can purchase in the refrigerated section of your grocery store, dries out very quickly so be sure to keep any that you're not currently using covered with a damp towel.

2. Handle the phyllo dough with care. Phyllo is extremely fragile so you'll need to work quickly and carefully to keep from ripping it. As long as the dough remains moist (see tip #1) it should hold together well.

3. When making baklava, each sheet of phyllo dough is brushed generously with melted butter. Use a pastry brush to make spreading the butter evenly and lightly easier and to avoid tearing the phyllo.

4. Once your baklava is layered in your baking dish and ready to bake, slice it before placing it in the oven. Once cooked, the phyllo dough will be crunchy and it will crumble if you attempt to slice it once it's baked.

5. Any variety of nuts may be used to fill your baklava. Mix it up and give walnuts, almonds, and pistachios a try.

6. The spices used in baklava can also vary. Experiment with cinnamon, cloves, even cardamom, until you find the perfect spice or spice blend.

7. The key to successfully making baklava is to work relatively quickly as you layer the phyllo and nuts. Set up all of your ingredients before you start to cook so you'll have everything you need ready to go.

8. Pour the sweetened syrup (you may sweeten it with sugar or honey) over the baklava immediately after it's removed from the oven. Pouring the cooled syrup over the piping hot pastry will result in the perfect baklava — crispy phyllo softened slightly by the syrup.

9. Baklava is typically made in large batches, but don't feel pressured to eat it all at once (although you'll undoubtedly be tempted to once you taste it). Let the baklava cool completely, wrap it carefully, and pop it into the freezer to enjoy later.

10. Baklava can be a little messy to eat. Serve the slices in paper cupcake liners with napkins nearby. The cupcake liners will catch any stray crumbs.