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Christmassy Baklava



Here in London, the Christmas spirit is evident really early on! It’s mid November and all the Christmas lights have gone on, the store displays are marvelous in their Christmas decorations, and the mood for Christmas has started to set in since October.


This Christmassy baklava just popped up on my Facebook memories, and remembering it just made me drool!
I contemplated remaking it-the photos are circa 2015-and reposting in English, but honestly, I also remembered that I had eaten such a huge quantity the last time I made it, that I decided that 2015 iPhone photos were just fine!


So here goes, this is my version of baklava after I saw a recipe in a British magazine, that suggested a chestnut only baklava. I decided to add some ingredients along the way-mostly what I had in hand at the moment-and voila: a chestnut, apple, cranberry, cinnamon, cardamom and orange, buttery, syrupy and crunchy baklava.


The first bite alone will make you ‘feel’ Christmassy inside, thus the inevitable name! 
If you have fresh chestnuts, by all means go ahead and use them, however reading my Greek blogposts I see that I decided to make this baklava exactly because I had fresh chestnuts in the house, but then discovered a ready boiled pack in the pantry and immediately decided to make my life a lot easier.
Yes, I would still make the same choice today, as making baklava is a little time consuming on it’s own-just because you have to butter each layer of phyllo pastry one by one-so why not make it easier by any avoiding extra hassle?


Two other ingredients make a huge difference in this specific dessert: the phyllo pastry-it has to be good quality, thin phyllo especially for baklava making-and of course, the butter. 
It has to be real butter of the best quality again. You can use ghee, goats or sheeps butter as well, depending on your preferences and tastebuds. Traditionally it has to be made with clarified sheeps butter, but I find that cows butter does baklava justice as well, so any unsalted butter will do.
A third very important ingredient is the honey. That has to be pure, as it flavours the whole baklava, thus I suggest you use Greek honey-of course!
If you do go ahead and make it, please tag me on Instagram, as I love to see my recipes being made and eaten! 

INGREDIENTS :
  • 1 pack thin phyllo pastry 
  • 200gr chestnuts, boiled and peeled 
  • 1 apple-any red apple will do 
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries 
  • 1.5 cup peeled walnuts 
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar 
  • 200gr butter 
  • 1 tsp cinnamon 
  • 1 tsp grated cardamom-around 10 pods 



For the syrup: 
  • 1 cup caster sugar 
  • 1/3 cup Greek honey 
  • 1/2 cup water 
  • 1 cinnamon stick 
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom or 4-5 pods of whole cardamom which you will grind
  • 1 whole unwaxed orange peel 




RECIPE :
  1. Preheat your oven to 160 degrees Celsius. You will need a mid sized oblong baking dish, around 23cm by 33cm.
  2. Place the walnuts on a baking tray lined with parchment paper, and place in the oven for 6-8 minutes. When they are done, grind them until quite thin.
  3. Peel the apple and cut into really small cubes. Cut the chestnuts in the same size. 
  4. In a big bowl, mix the cranberries, the apples, the grated cardamom and cinnamon together. 
  5. Add the grated walnuts, the sugar and chestnuts and mix well with a spoon. 
  6. Melt the butter in a small pot or microwave it for 1.5-2 minutes. 
  7. Open your pack of phyllo, remove from packaging, and cut all the phyllo in half with a big kitchen knife-or scissors. Cover it up with a kitchen towel while you work, as it dries up really really fast. 
  8. Butter the cake pan well with a pastry brush, and place the first sheet of phyllo. Butter this one up as well and place the second one over it. Keep buttering and layering for 6 times repetitively. 
  9. Cut any side lengths of the phyllo, and add half of the filling on to the first layer of phyllo. 
  10. Add 6 more layers of phyllo-same as before, buttering in between layers-add the rest of the filling, and finish it off by adding the last 6 phyllo layers-again, buttering in between layers. 
  11. Using a sharp knife, cut into diamond or square shapes all the way to the bottom of the dish, and add the remaining butter spooning it over the whole balava.
  12. Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes.  Than, raise the temperature to 180 degrees Celsius, and bake for 15 more minutes, until the baklava gets a nice red finish. 
  13. While it bakes, and during the 1st 20 minutes, prepare the syrup. 
  14. Add all ingredients together in a small pot. Once the mixture starts to boil, lower the temperature and let the syrup simmer for 10-12 minutes. It will reduce to almost 1/2 of its volume. When it’s ready, remove from the pot and place in a fireproof glass container, so that it cools off as much as possible until the baklava is fully baked. 
  15. Once the baklava is done, take it out if the oven and spoon over it all the  syrup. Let it cool off completely before serving. 

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