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!" -Noreen Wasti
For the Baklava
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”)
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.
Notes from Noreen:
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
"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!" -Noreen Wasti