Desserts and Sweets

Agave-Coconut-Cinnamon Baklava

One of the first things I noticed when I moved to Berlin were the wonderful farmers’ markets (actually this is typical of all German cities and towns and I am working on a post about this for later!).

As I went through the Saturday market in Kreuzberg last week, my mouth watered as I walked by the stands with all the Turkish treats. The baklava was the number one culprit and I kept on going back to look at this golden, crispy-nutty treat. The lady behind the stand continually asked me if I wanted a piece, but each time I declined. By the third time I walked by and stopped to look, she had figured out that I was just “nuts”. No more questions. She just ignored me.

Rightly so!!

I refrained from purchasing any, because as much as I love baklava, I find them often terribly sweet and not always with the nut-to-dough proportion such that I like.

Yea, so after my third visit to that stand, I knew exactly how I would be spending the time in my kitchen once I reached home. Luckily enough I had made some phyllo dough (I will give you the recipe for this later on) a few weeks back and had frozen about 24 sheets, which was enough to prepare my own baklava.

I have been doing a lot of experimenting of ate with natural sweeteners such as agaves and rice syrups. I used both agave and rice syrup for my baklava and it was delicious!

Agave-Coconut-Cinnamon Baklava

You will need:
a baking pan ( I used an 8 x 8 pan)
about 20 sheets of Phyllo dough
½ cup of melted butter
2 cups of ground hazelnuts or walnuts (or a mixture of both)
1 cup of ground almonds or nuts of your choice
½ cup of non-sweetened dried coconut flakes
Optional: ½ cup of semi-sweetened chocolate chips (or 60 percent chocolate bar cut up into small pieces)
1 tablespoon cinnamon

¾ cups of agave
½ cups of rice syrup
1 tablespoon of Lemon juice
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Thaw out the frozen phyllo dough. Take out 1 sheet at a time, and keep the rest coveted in a damp towel, so as not to dry them out. Lightly butter a pan. Cut 5 to 6 sheets of the dough to fit the size of the pan. Place a phyllo dough sheet into the pan and brush each sheet with a bit of the melted butter. Place another sheet on top and repeat procedure until you have used up 5 or 6 sheets. Now, you are ready to place the nuts on top.

In a bowl, mix the nuts, coconut (chocolate pieces if desired) and cinnamon together. Place half of this nut mixture over the phyllo sheets, and press down with your hands lightly to make an even surface.

Then, place another phyllo dough sheet on top of the nut mixture and brush with melted butter and proceed as before, using 5 or 6 sheets of dough.

Place the rest of the nut mixture onto the dough and pack down again to make an even surface. To finish off, place a phyllo dough sheet on top of the nut mixture and brush with melted butter and proceed as before, using 5 or 6 sheets of dough.

Using a sharp knife cut the baklava into equal squares. Be careful not to cut too quickly, or you will rip the dough.

Bake the baklava at 400 F or just above 200 degrees C. for about 30 minutes, or until it turns nicely golden in colour.

While the baklava is in the oven, mix the agave, lemon juice, vanilla extract and rice syrup together and place into a saucepan. Heat until just simmering and take off heat.

Once the baklava has reached its golden brown colour and taken out of the oven, drizzle the syrup over the baklava making sure the syrup coats each piece and in between each piece. As the baklava is hot, the syrup will spread throughout the nut mixture.