Persian baklava (baghlava) is made with pistachios and almonds, and sweetened with a rosewater sweet syrup. This version also includes raisins. Sponsored by Sun-Maid Raisins.
It is officially December. And if your willpower was strong enough to not binge on Halloween candy and Thanksgiving pie, then this month will be equally difficult to say no to Christmas cookies, more pie and other sweet confections.
I love giving homemade gifts during the holiday, whether it’s pomegranate fudge or orangecello. And today’s recipe makes a perfect edible gift, or treat to share at your next party, pot luck or cookie exchange: Persian baklava.
What is baklava?
Baklava (pronounced baghlava in Farsi) is a sweet dessert made with layers of phyllo (or filo), filled with nuts and drenched in a sweet syrup. It comes in various forms, depending on which middle eastern or mediterranean country you visit.
Greeks use chopped walnuts and drizzle baklava with honey. Persian baklava uses chopped pistachios and almonds with a rosewater sweet syrup drizzled all over it. Both are incredibly delicious.
How to prepare Persian baklava
Baklava is typically served in diamond shapes, but you can also cut squares, too. Before you bake the baklava, you need to pre-slice it into the desired shape. You do not have to cut it all the way, but approximately halfway deep into the phyllo.
Phyllo turns crisp when it is baked, and it will fall apart if you don’t do the pre-cutting before you bake it.
They can also be prepared as a baklava cake without any phyloo at all. Sometimes baklava is rolled in phyllo for individual servings.
You can add nuts in between each layer of or have a big thick layer of nuts in the center. Everyone thinks their version is the best. I personally love eating them all!
Each sheet of phyllo is brushed with butter, but I also know Greeks who brush the phyllo with olive oil. There are many twists to this class dessert.
Persian baklava with raisins
My latest twist to baklava is with raisins. I added raisins to traditional Persian baklava and the result was AMAZING! I used less sugar, because Sun-Maid raisins are naturally sweet, but I still used a rosewater sweet syrup over my beautiful golden baklava.
I used a food processor to chop the pistachios and almonds (use unsalted almond slivers) first. Then I added the raisins and pulsed until the raisins were chopped. You do not want to over process the raisins or you will have a big gooey ball, which will be difficult to use in the baklava.
The raisin-nut mixture is the tossed with cardamom, another important spice used in Persian cooking. The raisin-nut mixture is the spread evenly between the buttered layers of phyllo.
When to add syrup to Persian baklava
After you bake the baklava, you will immediately soak it with the sweet rosewater syrup. This will get absorbed easily by the baklava when it is warm, and not when it is cold.
So let the warm baklava is soak in the sweet rosewater while it is in the pan. You can finish cutting the baklava and serve it once it has cooled to room temperature.
While the baklava is warm is also the best time to garnish it. The syrup is sticky and the garnishes will adhere nicely to the baklava. I used crushed dried rose petals and chopped pistachios.
Dried rose petals and rosewater can be found online and in middle eastern markets, but I have found dried rose petals in Asian markets, as well. I won’t lie. Persian baklava is addictively delicious, but it is also filling because of the nuts and raisins.
- 1 cup blanched almond slivers
- 1 cup shelled pistachios
- 1 cup Sun-Maid raisins
- 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
- 1 lb phyllo dough, thawed
- 1/4 lb unsalted butter, melted
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup rosewater
- 1/4 cup ground pistachios
- 1 TBS dried rose petals, crushed (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350ºF. Spray 13-inch baking pan with cooking spray.
- In a food processor grind nuts until fine powder is formed.
- Add raisins with the ground nuts and pulse until raisins are chopped, but do not over-process or you will have a big sticky ball.
- Transfer raisin-nut mixture into a bowl and mix in cardamom. Set nut mixture aside.
- Unroll thawed phyllo dough.
- Using kitchen shears, cut phyllo to fit baking pan. Keep phyllo covered with wet paper towels to prevent drying and cracking.
- Keep bowl of melted butter next to your workspace.
- Place 1 sheet of phyllo on the bottom of the greased pan.
- Using a pastry brush, brush phyllo sheet completely with melted butter. Repeat steps for 2 more layers.
- Over third layer, evenly sprinkle approximately 1/2 cup of raisin-nut butter coated phyllo.
- Add three more layers of phyllo, buttering between each layer.
- Again, add 1/3 cup of raisin nut mixture over third layer. Continue doing this until raisin nut mixture is done, ending with three layers of butter covered phyllo.
- Using a sharp knife, carefully cut uncooked baklava halfway deep into small squares or diamonds.
- Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until the baklava is golden brown.
- Meanwhile, make the sweet rose water syrup. In a small saucepan over medium heat combine sugar, rosewater and 1 cup water.
- Bring to boil, then cook on low for 15 minutes until thickened. Remove from heat and set aside.
- When baklava is golden, remove from oven. Pour rose water syrup evenly over the entire baklava.
- Garnish with 1/4 cup ground pistachios and dried rose petals (optional).
- Let baklava sit and soak in the rosewater syrup for approximately 3 hours before removing from pan and serving. Baklava can stored at room temperature covered for up to a week.
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Serving Size:1 piece
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 90 Total Fat: 4.3g Saturated Fat: 1.5g Cholesterol: 5mg Sodium: 65mg Carbohydrates: 12.3g Fiber: 0.6g Sugar: 6.9g Protein: 1.5g