I have had a taste for Baklava lately. If you have never had it, it is a Greek pastry with cinnamon, nuts and honey. In years past, I have stood at the counter for an hour buttering each layer of phyllo dough, adding many layers of nuts and cinnamon, while assembling an entire pan of baklava. Phyllo dough comes in packages and are ultra thin layers of dough in sheets. They dry out quickly so you have to keep them covered with a slightly damp towel and cut them to fit the pan you are using. This is very time consuming, but the result is a flaky, buttery treat!
I wanted to try making them using puff pastry. I have been using puff pastry a lot and it is so versatile and easy to use. I couldn't find the exact recipe I wanted to try, so I made it up. It was actually pretty good and I will make them again! If calories are an issue with you, these used way less butter and only one layer of the walnut/sugar and spice combination, so I have dubbed these the diet version as well as the fast version. This is my opinion and not based in fact or research, but feel free to agree with me.
1 package Pepperidge Farms Puff Pastry
1/4 cup melted butter
1/2 cup chopped walnuts I used black walnuts for the earthy flavor
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon each of allspice, cloves and cardamom If you don't have these spices, just add a bit more cinnamon
1/3 cup honey, or so
flour for sprinkling
You may halve this recipe very easily. Just use one sheet of the puff pastry and make use of the fractions you learned in school to halve the rest of the ingredients.
Heat the oven to 375°.
Place the puff pastry on the counter to come up to room temperature. Place parchment paper in a baking sheet. Crease the corners to make sure the sugar and honey can't leak out onto the pan. Then clean up is a snap.
Place the walnuts, sugar and spices in a small bowl, mix well with a spoon or fork.
Lightly flour the counter space and unfold one of the puff pastry sheets. I rolled it out to about 12X8. Cut into 2X4 inch strips, or so.
Use a pastry brush to butter the center of the strips, leaving about a 1/4 border. Place about a Tablespoon of the walnut/sugar mix on one half of the butter. Use a wet finger to moisten the edges of the pastry. Fold the strip of puff pastry over to make a square and press the edges together. I used a fork to seal and then make a decorative border...sort of decorative.
Place the square on the parchment covered baking sheet. I used a pastry cutter to transfer the fragile pastry.
When you have made and transferred all the puff to the baking sheet, take a sharp knife, I used a serrated one, to slice diagonally through the top layer of the pastry. Don't cut through the second layer. Use the pastry brush to brush melted butter all over the top of the pastry, making sure to coat the slice in the top, so the butter can soak into the walnut layer.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until the tops are golden brown.
Remove from the oven and drizzle honey all over the hot pastries, right in the pan. The parchment paper will prevent you from having a mess to clean up. Make sure the honey is drizzled all over the top and down the sides of the puffs. I used about one face worth of honey for one sheet of puff pastry!
Let the baklava sit for awhile to absorb all the honey. When completely cooled, they can be stored in an airtight container for a day or two.