Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Turkish Fig Baklava
I would be remiss if I didn't share one of my favorite desserts, Fig Baklava. I have the fondest memories of visiting the Turkish Market, in my old Brooklyn neighborhood, where I would buy house-made baklava, dried figs, and other Middle Eastern delights. I would always buckle to temptation and sit on a street-side bench to indulge in my treats before I even made it home. I remember digging into the bakalva with the plastic fork and jamming some of the gooey, syrupy-walnut filling into the middle of a dried, Turkish fig.
Those two tastes, in tandem, is one of my favorite bites in the whole world, for sure. So, from that memory, this recipe was spawn, using little phyllo cups instead of entire phyllo sheets for for ease of preparation. The initial, gentle crunch of the pastry gives way to a crunchy, chewy, filling of walnuts, pistachios, fig paste, drenched in a fragrant, divinity of honey/simple-syrup that is redolent of orange zest and a touch of cinnamon.The result is sophisticated, with just the right ratio of nuts and figs.
Preparing individual phyllo cups is a cinch, allowing you to fine-tune the sweetness of each cup to your personal taste with the syrup. The fig takes precedence in this version with the addition of the final fig nestled atop. A filling like this would also be quite at home in a large, full size, fig baklava.
15 Athens brand mini phyllo shells
8 whole Turkish Figs, plus 4 figs for pulsing
3 cups of walnuts
2/3 cup shelled pistachios
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup water
Couple pinches kosher salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut 8 of the figs into halves and set aside. Remove stems from the other 4 figs ad pulse in food processor for about 30 seconds. Remove from food processor and set aside. Pulse remaining ingredients in food processor about 20-30 times. You still want to have some of the nutty texture, so don't overdo it. Fill the 15 phyllo cups with the nut mixture and nestle a fig half in the top. Place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and bake for about 10 minutes. Garnish with additional pistachio nuts.
COOK'S NOTE: All of the nuts I used were roasted, not raw. You can certainly use raw if you'd like, and combined with honey. If any of the nuts are salted, taste for seasoning before you add some salt.