Orange Cardamom Baklava

This treat tastes best when eaten while watching Mamma Mia or My Big Fat Greek Wedding for ambiance. Week 35: Baklava with pistachio and orange cardamom syrup.




Sticky, sweet and nutty – what’s not to like? Plus, I will use any excuse I can find to bake with pistachios. Not all baklavas involve pistachios of course. It is truly any combination of nuts and spices layered between countless layers of phyllo dough and butter, and soaked in honey or syrup. This recipe called for a orange juice reduction flavored with cardamom – yum! Made the kitchen smell amazing, I’m tellin ya.

According to one article I read, the use of cardamom implies that this version of baklava originates from an Arab country. Vague, I know, but it’s an interesting read. He also mentions that the first phyllo dough-stretching machine wasn’t invented until 1946! I can’t imagine having to roll out the dough this thin by hand . . . That’s the arm workout of the century.



I’m using the lovely orange to block your view of the huge amount of sugar that goes into the syrup. Who am I kidding – you knew what you were getting into when you clicked on a dessert blog.




Snow-capped pistachios. I made sure to check between pulses on the food processor, since I wanted some larger chunks of pistachio left in the mix.




Action shot! It’s like the dream filling: cinnamon sugar pistachio powder. I’m considering using this combo in a coffee cake.




Phyllo dough is super picky. It dries out super quickly! Keeping a lightly damp towel on top of the stack helps to keep them workable and prevents the inevitable brittleness. (Say that 10 times fast – Go!)



Before and after the first paper-thin layer of phyllo. One down, many to go. Each layer had to be brushed with melted butter. I may or may not have used two whole sticks of butter for the brushing alone.




After about 6 or 7 layers of phyllo, I threw in half of the filling. Another 6 or 7 sheets, and then the second half of the filling, followed by a final set of phyllo layers. A decadent double-decker sandwich.



Pre-slicing it helps so the top layer doesn’t crumble into a thousand pieces when you try to cut it after it’s baked.




Mmm, orange cardamom syrup. I made this two days before a dinner party and it was excellent on the third day! All the syrup had found its way into all the nooks and crannies and the crunchy texture of the phyllo dough was still intact.


If you have the patience and a silicone baking brush, this recipe is entirely worth it! And depending on your geometry skills with a knife, it can also be a canvas for a masterpiece. Happy munching!


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