Baklava – Christmas Star – With Pistachio and Dried Cranberries
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Very impressive and great for the Christmas Holidays baklava, as cranberries and pistachios definitely give a touch of sour-exotic taste to the traditional flavor!!
For the Baklava:
1 package phyllo dough (400 g)
250 grams unsalted butter
For the Filling:
2 cups walnuts, chopped
1 Zest of lemon
For the Syrup:
1 kilogram sugar
800 milliliters water
1 tablespoon pure Vanilla extract
1/2 cup dried cranberries coarsely ground
1/2 cup pistachios, finely chopped
1. Preheat oven to 300 F (about 200 C).
2. Divide filo into two equal parts.
3. Spread the bottom of a middle sized baking pan with 3-4 sheets of filo, leaving about 5-6 cm edges of the sheets to stick out of the pan.
4. Crumple slightly one by one the remaining sheets of filo from the first half and spread along the bottom of the pan, one by one.
5. After spreading all sheets from the first half of filo – sprinkle the first cup of walnuts, the lemon zest and then the second cup of walnuts.
6. Leave 2 sheets of filo from the second half – to cover the baklava.
7. Crumple slightly and spread over the nuts – one by one the remaining sheets of filo from the second half of dough.
8. Fold gently the sticking out edges of filo sheets inside ove the spread sheets and cover with the 2 remaining sheets from the second half of filo, without crumpling them, the whole baklava, by folding carefully their ends inside.
9. After finishing with arranging the filo sheets, cut with a sharp knife the baklava, trying to make a “star ” – first cut into 4 equal parts, afterwords into 4 more, and afterwords cut eight rhombuses – from the center outwards.
10. Melt the butter into a heat proof bowl over a pan of simmering water (or into a microwave, without letting it bring into a boil) and pour it evenly all over the baklava.
11. Bake into preheated to 300 F (about 150 C) oven for about 1 hour or until golden,as after the first 20 minutes cover with baking paper or cooking foil, so the baklava would not burn.
12. Remove and leave to cool completely.
13. After the baklava is already cooled, make the syrup.
14. Bring 800 ml of water to a boil, add 1 kilogram of sugar and stir well.
15. Lower the heat and let it boil on medium-high heat for 15-20 minutes or until about 1/3 of the syrup evaporates. The syrup shall be slightly yellow and semi thick – a drop on the thumb nail should not spill (but be careful with the drop 🙂 as the syrup is very hot!). Add vanilla, stir well and remove.
16. Pour the hot syrup over the chilled baklava evenly.
17. Sprinkle the rhombuses with the coarsely ground dried cranberries and the rest of the pieces with the finely chopped pistachio.
18. Leave baklava to absorb the syrup at least one night (1 day would be best) without covering it for the first 1-2 hours.
19. After baklava chills enough, cover with baking paper or if the pan is high enough – with a cotton cloth.
20. Serve at room temperature with a glass of water or strong coffee 🙂
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