We love maple syrup! Possibly my own craving for this iconic sap is the result of my Canadian heritage. But then there’s my American husband, who obsessively drizzles maple syrup over everything in sight, from a sweetener in his tea and coffee, to pork roasts, chili, ice cream, to salmon. Regardless of the origins of our maple passion, the maple-fication of Baklava was really quite inevitable. Maple syrup accompanies us camping and hiking, vacationing and traveling. Little bottles of maple syrup were stowed away in my suitcase headed to Ethiopia by my mother, and were in our packs as we traveled by moto in Vietnam and hitchhiked in Thailand. Maple Walnut baklava is a fantastic dessert, managing to be both light and flaky and also rich and gooey. This dessert features sheets of delicate filo, layered with the toasted flavors of browned butter, roasted walnuts, cinnamon, oranges and clove. Once cooked, the flaky pastry is bathed in a concentrated maple syrup, with a deep caramel flavor and subtle sweet notes.
Yield: Lots! Serves between 10-12
- 1 pound filo dough (2 rolls)
- 2 cups maple syrup
- 1 cup butter
- 5 cups toasted Walnuts, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup sugar
- Zest of one orange
- Thaw 1 pound of filo dough (usually comes as two rolls). You can do this by either putting it in the fridge overnight, or leaving it out at room temperature for 1 hour. Do not unwrap the filo until all your other prep is done and you are ready to use, it dries out very quickly.
- Preheat oven to 350.
- For the browned butter: In a small pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Bring to a low boil for about 5 minutes, you are looking for the butter to foam and then for the milk solids to coagulate into visible particles, and finally, for the foam to subside and these particles to brown. Remove the pot from heat immediately once the color changes to prevent burning. Allow to cool for at least 5 minutes.
- For the walnut filling: In a large bowl, combine the chopped walnuts, spices, salt, sugar and orange zest to mix.
- To make the baklava: Brush butter on the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch baking dish.
- Unwrap the filo dough (only open one roll initially) and cover with a clean and just faintly damp paper towel to keep moist. Using your pan to measure, cut the filo dough to match the size of your pan (kitchen shears work especially well here). If some of your filo pieces are a little bedraggled or ripped, just save those for middle pieces and take care to set aside intact pieces for both the top and bottom of the baklava.
- Layer three sheets of filo in your pan interspersing each layer of filo with brown butter. You will get in the rhythm of layering and dabbing with butter as you get going. You are looking to cover each sheet lightly with butter, but not soak them. Also to note, we find that dabbing rather than brushing is a helpful technique to prevent the filo from tearing.
- After three layers of filo and butter, sprinkle 1 cup of walnut mixture evenly over the dough.
- Layer another 3 pieces of filo on top of the walnuts, again, interspersing with butter. Continue this process, three layers of filo all brushed with butter, to 1 cup of nuts until you have finished all but 1/4 cup of nuts. Top with a minimum of three sheets of filo, but you can use up as much as you have remaining. Top the last sheet of filo with butter and freeze the uncooked baklava for 15-20 minutes.
- Remove the baklava from the freezer and, using your sharpest knife, cut the baklava into a diamond or square pattern. Bake the baklava for 30-40 minutes until it is lightly toasted and golden brown.
- For the maple syrup: While the baklava is cooking, pour the maple syrup into a small pot and cook on medium heat at a boil for 10 minutes to concentrate and deepen the flavor. Remove the maple syrup from the heat and let cool.
- Remove the baklava from the oven, set on a cooling rack and immediately pour the cooled maple syrup over top. Pour over enough maple syrup so that it surrounds the squares of baklava in syrup when you press down on them. Sprinkle the remaining walnuts over the maple dunked baklava and let cool.
- Store covered in the fridge, and make sure to bring the baklava to room temperature prior to serving. Baklava keeps well and can be eaten up to 5 days after being made… that is, IF it lasts that long!