Baklava is one of the richest, most decadent pastries ever to have come out of Turkey or Greece—or anywhere, for that matter! And Chef Amy Riolo wants to make it more decadent still, by combining milk chocolate and dark chocolate into an amazingly rich and delicious treat.
Like many other delicious foods, baklava came to us thanks to the Byzantine Empire, though where they got it from is unclear. There was and is still an ongoing argument as to whether the pastry began in Greece or in Turkey. Many of those who consume it today don’t particularly care: call it what you want, claim what you wish: it’s a fantastic sweet way to end a meal or begin a day.
The first step is to clarify the butter. Start with 1 c. butter in a saucepan and melt it. You’ll clarify it by then skimming off the white milk solids that rise to the surface of the butter as it melts. (The white solids would keep the baklava from browning, whereas it’s really essential for the pastry to attain that crispness and lovely golden color.)
Take the pan you’ll be using for the baklava (a 9 x 13-inch pan is the best choice) and butter the bottom and sides; this will keep the pastry from sticking to it and you’ll be able to lift it up and out nicely at the end.
Take out your first package of phyllo dough (it’s sometimes spelled “filo,” but don’t worry: it’s the same thing). Open it up and separate out the first sheet, which you will lay down on the bottom of the pan so that it fits snugly. It’s pretty dry so your goal here is to coat it completely with the clarified butter. You can hold the dough down flat with one hand while you brush the butter over it with the other, using a pastry brush.
Lay a second sheet of phyllo dough on top of the first one and brush it with butter also. You’re going to be piling the phyllo dough sheets one on top of the other, and brushing each sheet with the clarified butter before you add on the next one. You can do this through the whole package of phyllo dough.
It’s time to add the chocolate! Take 1/2 lb. milk chocolate chips and 1/2 lb. of dark chocolate chips, and scatter them on top of the top layer of buttered phyllo dough, making sure to mix them together. (You may find it useful to have mixed them up ahead of time, then you just have to pour the chips onto the dough and spread them out evenly.)
Once you have the chocolate covering the top layer of phyllo dough, you’re going to open your second package and start all over again layering it on top of the chocolate chips. Place one sheet on top, and brush it with clarified butter; put down the next sheet, and brush it with clarified butter. Keep doing this until you’ve used up all your phyllo dough.
Cut your baklava into diamond-shaped pieces now. If you wit until after you’ve baked the pastry to cut it, it will crack and break up; doing it ahead of time ensures that it will look as good as it tastes!
You’ll have been preheating your oven to 350 degrees and now you can put the baklava in; it should take between 40 and 50 minutes to bake. But don’t leave it alone! Riolo advises that halfway through, after about 20 minutes, you rotate the pan so that the pastry browns evenly.
And that’s all! This is one version of baklava that you might want to serve right from the oven, because that will mean that the chocolate is soft and warm. Enjoy!