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Walnut Baklava

Diamond-shaped pieces of walnut baklava, topped with chopped pistachios.
Moutabal is usually served cold, as part of a mezze spread, though I harbor a secret preference for the more pronounced flavors of moutabal served warm.
Anas Atassi

Prep 1 hr 15 mins
Cook 30 mins
Total 2 hrs
Dessert
Middle Eastern
30 squares
239 kcal

Ingredients 

For the atter syrup

  • 1 cup water
  • 2 1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon orange blossom water or rose water
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon or orange zest preferably organic
  • 1 tablespoon lemon or orange juice

For the baklava

  • 2 1/2 cups walnut pieces
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 20 sheets phyllo pastry (half of a 1 pound package) thawed if frozen
  • 11 tablespoons (5 1/2 oz) unsalted butter, melted

To serve

  • 2/3 cup atter syrup, or more
  • 1/4 cup finely ground pistachios

Directions 

Make the atter syrup

  • In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the water and sugar. Heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar dissolves.
  • As soon as the syrup begins to boil, quickly stir in the orange blossom or rose water, zest, and juice. Remove from the heat and cool completely before using. Extra atter syrup can be refrigerated in an airtight container.

    TESTER TIP: Make use of that extra atter syrup by drizzling over a bowl of yogurt or stirring into a cocktail.

Make the baklava

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
  • In a food processor, grind half of the walnuts with the raisins, brown sugar, and cinnamon until a thick paste forms, 1 1/2 to 3 1/2 minutes. Add the rest of the walnuts and pulse a few times so that they are distributed evenly but remain somewhat chunky.
  • Cut twenty sheets of phyllo to fit a 9-by 13-inch (23-by 33-cm) metal cake pan. Slick the bottom and sides of the pan with some of the melted butter and line the bottom of the pan with 8 phyllo sheets, brushing each sheet with some melted butter before layering the next sheet on top. This will help them stick together, and will help them crisp up while baking.

    TESTER TIP: Keep your phyllo covered with a damp cloth while assembling the baklava, to prevent it drying out.

  • Crumble half of the walnut filling over this phyllo base, distributing evenly, and taking care not to tear the phyllo.
  • Stack 4 sheets of phyllo pastry on top of the filling, again brushing each sheet with butter before layering on the next sheet. Crumble the other half of the filling on top, and spread it evenly over the phyllo.
  • Top the baklava with the remaining 8 sheets of phyllo, again brushing each sheet with butter before layering.
  • Brush the rest of the melted butter onto the top sheet and cut the baklava into your desired shapes (squares, rectangles, or diamonds). Bake until cooked, crispy, and evenly golden, 20 to 35 minutes.

Finish the baklava

  • When the pastry is golden, remove from the oven and immediately pour 1/3 cup of the atter syrup evenly over the pastries. Let the syrup soak in for 15 minutes, and then slowly pour over 1/3 cup syrup, stopping if it begins to pool on the bottom.
  • Sprinkle the baklava with chopped pistachios and let cool completely before serving.