Olive Oil Baklava with Walnuts and Dark Chocolate

Olive Oil Baklava with Walnuts and Dark Chocolate

Brightland's Chef in Residence, Noreen Wasti, has shared the recipe for a nutty, decadent holiday treat: Olive Oil Baklava with Walnuts and Dark Chocolate

"The holiday season is filled with confections and treats and while I love a frosted Santa sugar cookie as much as the next person, sometimes it’s nice to do something a little different. I was inspired by baklava — a dessert that is said to have originated under the Ottoman Empire and has spread throughout much of the Middle East and Central Asia in many variations."

"Baklava is made up of delicate layers of phyllo pastry that are filled with nuts and soaked in a sweet syrup. The phyllo layers are traditionally brushed with butter, which I’ve switched out for ALIVE — a swap that that adds beautiful richness and that also happens to make this dessert accidentally vegan!"

"The filling is a mixture of walnuts, dark chocolate, cacao nibs, cinnamon, and salt that you might find yourself eating on its own by the spoonful."

"For me, chocolate and salt go hand-in-hand, so be generous with it - it’s much needed to offset the sweetness of the silky honey-sugar-vanilla syrup that gets doused on top. This dessert is nutty, decadent, and a lot easier than it looks, trust me. Happy Holidays!"

 

Olive Oil Baklava with Walnuts and Dark Chocolate

By Noreen Wasti

 

For the baklava

Ingredients

  • 3 cups of shelled walnuts
  • 6 ounces dark chocolate (70% and above), roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup cacao nibs
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp flaky salt
  • 1 package frozen phyllo dough sheets, thawed according to the directions on the box (I used a package of 18 sheets that measured 13x18”)
  • 3/4 cup Brightland ALIVE olive oil

Instructions

In a food processor pulse the walnuts, dark chocolate, cacao nibs, sugar, cinnamon, and salt till it resembles a coarse sandy texture, transfer to a bowl.

Brush a 10-inch round cake pan* with olive oil and place one layer of phyllo on the bottom of the pan.*

Brush the phyllo sheet with olive oil and repeat 5 more times (brushing each layer of phyllo) until you have 6 layers of phyllo in the pan.

Sprinkle about 2 cups of the chocolate walnut mixture evenly over the 6th layer of phyllo.

Place a layer of phyllo on top and brush with olive oil. Repeat 2 more times (brushing each layer of phyllo) - you have 9 layers of phyllo in the pan now.

Sprinkle about 2 cups of the chocolate walnut mixture evenly over the 9th layer of phyllo.

Place a layer of phyllo on top and brush with olive oil. Repeat 2 more times (brushing each layer of phyllo) — you have 12 layers of phyllo in the pan now.

Sprinkle the remaining amount of chocolate walnut mixture evenly over the 12th layer of phyllo.

Place a layer of phyllo on top and brush with olive oil. Repeat 5 more times (brushing each layer of phyllo) — you have used all 18 layers of phyllo.*

Brush the top layer of phyllo generously with olive oil and place the baklava in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Remove the baklava from the fridge and using a knife, carefully cut the baklava into a pattern of your choice — diamonds, squares, slices, anything works here, don’t stress!*

Bake for 50-60 minutes until golden brown and while the baklava bakes, prepare the syrup.

Once the baklava is done, remove from the oven and immediately pour the syrup over it while still hot.

Garnish with finely chopped walnuts, cacao nibs, and flaky salt if desired.

Let sit at room temperature for at least 3 hours before enjoying.

For the syrup

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup water

Instructions

In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, honey, vanilla, and water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and let reduce slightly, 8-10 minutes.

Set aside.

 

*Notes*

* I find it useful to cut the phyllo pastry to the shape of the pan, but if you don’t want to do this you can just place the phyllo sheets as-is into the pan and fold the edges over to fit.

*  I used a 10-inch springform cake pan, but any deep square, sheet, or round pan will work just fine.

*  If you’re confused about the phyllo layers, the order is: 6 sheets phyllo, filling, 3 sheets phyllo, filling, 3 sheets phyllo, filling, 6 sheets phyllo. Feel free to adapt this to however many sheets you are using. All phyllo sheets get brushed with olive oil.

*  The simplest cut for baklava is squares, but if you want to get fancy, here is a helpful tutorial to make the star diamond pattern — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hutF_E0kmqQ