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Cherry Almond Baklava

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Level: Intermediate

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Description

Layered phyllo, filled with finely chopped almonds and perfectly delicious red cherries. Baked to golden brown and drizzled with honey syrup.

Ingredients

  • FOR THE BAKLAVA:
  • 1 pound Red Cherries, Halved And Seeded
  • ¾ cups Sugar
  • 1 cup Butter, Unsalted And Melted
  • 2 cups Finely Chopped Almonds
  • 1 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1 package Phyllo Dough, 16-18 Sheets
  • FOR THE SAUCE:
  • ½ cups Sugar
  • ½ cups Water
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • ¼ cups Honey

Preparation

*NOTE* The phyllo dough I used was full sheet size, not 13×9 inch. What I did was fold each layer of phyllo dough in half to fit into my baking dish.

Layering schematic:
Bottom: 4 sheets phyllo, folded in half, creating 8 layers.
Layers between nuts and cherries: 1 sheet of phyllo – folded in half, creating 2 layers.
Top Layer: 4 sheets of phyllo, folded in half, creating 8 layers.

In a medium sauce pan, over medium-high heat, place halved and de-seeded cherries. With a masher, mash them up into small pieces and let them simmer for 20 minutes. Stir occasionally. When half of the liquid has evaporated, stir in ¾ cup sugar. Continue to simmer another 10 minutes. Take off heat and allow to cool.

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Butter the bottoms and sides of a 9×13-inch pan with a pastry or basting brush.

In a small bowl miix together chopped almonds and cinnamon. Set aside.

Unroll the phyllo dough. Cover it with a dampened cloth or paper towels to keep it from drying out. Place 2 layers of dough in the pan (folded in half), butter thoroughly. Repeat, adding 2 layers of dough at a time (folded in half) and buttering afterwards, until you have 8 layers of dough.

Sprinkle a third of the nut mixture on top. Top with 2 layers of folded dough, butter, and then add a third of the cooled cherry mixture.

Top again with two more layers of phyllo, and brush with butter and add a third of the almonds. Top with 2 layers of folded dough, butter it, and then add a third of the cooled cherry mixture.

Alternate layering cherries and nuts between two buttered sheets of phyllo. When you have three layers of nuts and cherries, begin working on the top “crust”. This will require 4 sheets of phyllo (each folded in half), buttered between every 2 layers.

Using a sharp knife, cut squares all the way to the bottom of the pan.

Bake for 50 minutes until the baklava is golden and crisp.

Make the sauce while the baklava is baking. Boil sugar and water until sugar is melted. Add vanilla and honey. Simmer for about 20 minutes.

Remove baklava from the oven and immediately spoon sauce over it. Let it cool.

Leave uncovered or it will become soggy.

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