Number 29: Baklava

28 Dec

I would love to be able to say that I made this baklava myself.  I would love to say that a strapping Greek man (preferably John Stamos) came to my house and taught me how to layer the delicate phyllo dough, grind up the nuts, and create the sticky-sweet syrup.  Then we would sensuously drizzle honey over the top and sip ouzo from tiny glasses.  But no.  There was no John Stamos in my kitchen.  This isn’t even homemade baklava.  Dan stole this store-bought baklava from his family’s Christmas party and smuggled it home for me.

As if I needed any more sweets this Christmas.  My mom gave me a giant tupperware full of her famous “Chinese Chews,” which are probably the best-tasting things in the world.  I eat one for breakfast every day.

On top of that, I made my very first lattice-top apple pie for Christmas and I have been eating slices of that after dinner each night (with a scoop of ice cream, of course.)

But it’s still the holiday season, so I figured I could get away with a baklava snack today.  I’m a big tea person – four years in Scotland will do that to you – and any good Brit will tell you that you need a cookie or something with your tea, so I opted for baklava today.  I haven’t had baklava in many years, as I always go for bougatsa in any Greek dessert-choosing situation, but the one thing that I could remember was that baklava is incredibly sweet.  In fact, I know tons of people who hate it solely for that reason.

My first bite confirmed that my memory was correct.  It’s super sweet.  The kind of sweet that makes your teeth hurt.  It even looks sweet! Everything is sticky and gooey and (I’ll admit it) wonderful.  I love biting into the layers of phyllo dough and tasting the nutty, saccharine goodness.  It always astounded me how the pastry is superbly thin and delicate, but the baklava is surprisingly dense.  It seems like they managed to get a gallon of honey and a gazillion layers of phyllo into one tiny triangle.

With tea, this was perfect.  You definitely need something between bites to cut the sweetness, and even my sugar-loaded beverage tasted bitter compared to the baklava.  I was left satisfied, sugar-highed, and happy, although a side of John Stamos would have made the experience much sweeter.


5 Responses to “Number 29: Baklava”

  1. Laura in Cancun December 29, 2011 at 9:24 am #

    I’ve heard of baklava many times but didn’t know what it was! Now I have to have it haha

    John Stamos, mmmm…

  2. Beth December 29, 2011 at 10:29 am #

    I’m sure you’re already aware of this, but there are HUGE differences in the world of baklava (both homemade and pre-packaged). A friend in high school made it with less honey and more spices. A local Mediterranean restaurant makes it with a lot of pistachios instead of walnuts. I’ve also had it gloppy and so sugary it was painful to eat. I’d venture to say that no two baklava batches/recipes are the same. 🙂

  3. IntenseGuy December 29, 2011 at 12:24 pm #

    I’m not sure about John Stamos per se’ but I’ve heard someone say you need to beware of Greeks bearing gifts…

    My mom makes (or made – she hasn’t in a while) Baklava to die for – since Dad is (and kids) are diabetic, its probably best she doesn’t make it anymore!

  4. Bridget January 10, 2012 at 7:22 pm #

    Ooh, I haven’t had this in years! In my own personal Greek dessert-choosing situations, I always went for the chocolate pita! I love the pictures of the Chinese chews, your gorgeous pie, the delectable baklava…..but what I really want to know is–WHERE did you get that KICK ASS TABLECLOTH!!???? That thing RULES!!!!!

  5. Becki D. February 1, 2012 at 2:44 pm #

    Wow. You are a pie master! I hate pie. Wayyyy too much work. Your lattice is lovely, and enviable! 🙂

    Let’s get that recipe for your Mom’s chinese chews, eh?

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