Holiday Baklava Homemade: this sweet, nutty, almost candy-like dessert can be baked easily at home. You’ll need two boxes frozen phyllo dough, walnuts, butter, and a few pantry staples. If you’re like me, you always have Karo corn syrup, vanilla, sugar, and cinnamon on hand. You layer butter between sheets of phyllo dough and drop in layers of chopped walnuts before baking.
Make sure to cut the baklava before baking, but not all the way through. It helps the pieces soak up the syrup topping but not stick to the bottom of the pan.
I’ve also made a pistachio version and a coconut baklava (pictured above), both of which I love. However, if you’re making baklava for the first time, this recipe is perfect. You can always add in ingredients, or move on to more complex flavor profiles if so desired later.
This Tulsa State Fair winning recipe for homemade Holiday Baklava comes from Sherrel Jones. She placed second overall in a dessert contest with it back in 2013.
Homemade Baklava Made Easy
I’m always surprised at how forgiving the delicate-looking phyllo dough product can be to work with and how quickly homemade baklava comes together. We found that keeping a clean, lightly damp towel over the phyllo sheets helps hold in more moisture, making them easier to separate. Most stores sell pyllo dough in their frozen food section. Just be sure, for this recipe, to grab the sheets versus the shells version. Athens is a favorite brand of mine.
I first had a bite of this gooey, rich sweet treat at the Mediterranean Cruise, a long-standing restaurant in my home state (Minnesota). The restaurant, moreso in its prior, kitschy Eagan location, was our go-to whenever my mom and stepfather visited from out of state. Always festive and fun, their atmosphere and entertainment go hand-in-hand with great food in a family-friendly setting.
Baklava is not only a popular dessert across the Middle East, but throughout the world also, including here in the U.S.A. If you’re curious about the much debated origins of baklava, this Greek news outlet, the Greek Reporter, has some interesting background. Contentious! Read a bit, then get baking!
Holiday Baklava Homemade
4 cups finely chopped walnuts
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup melted butter, plus 2 tablespoons, cold
2 (1 pound) boxes Phyllo dough, frozen*
12 ounces light corn syrup
4 ounces dark corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
*Thaw Phyllo dough in refrigerator overnight (about 8 hours), or at room temperature (for about 2 hours). In a bowl, combine walnuts, sugar and cinnamon. Divide in three equal parts; set aside. Grease bottom and sides of a 9 x 13“ deep baking dish with 2 tablespoons butter. Start layering Phyllo dough with butter in between layers, placing each in baking dish. After 10 layers, sprinkle 1/3 of the nut mixture on top. You’ll repeat this step again two more times. To finish assembly, layer remaining dough sheets using butter in between as before. With a sharp knife, before baking, cut baklava only halfway through. Cut three long strips length-wise, then crosswise in a diagonal pattern, about 8 cuts, to make around 30 equal diamond shaped pieces. Bake at 325 degrees F for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Before the last 5-10 minutes of baking: in a saucepan, warm the two syrups and vanilla, stirring often. Get the syrup mixture hot but not boiling. Pour evenly over baklava. Return dish to oven for final minutes of baking. Let cool. Just before serving, cut the baklava, all the way through the layers. Makes about 30 pieces.