Lemon Syrup Macadamia Baklava

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Preparation info

  • Makes about

    40

    Pieces
    • Difficulty

      Medium

Appears in

Food of the Sun: A Fresh Look at Mediterranean Cooking

Food of the Sun

By Alastair Little and Richard Whittington

Published 1995

  • About

Is it possible to visit the Middle East, even in one’s head, and not taste baklava? If ever a sweetmeat deserved the description ubiquitous, this is it. Thin syrup-soaked pastries loaded with nuts pursue you from Morocco through Tunisia and Libya, smile coyly at you in Egypt, peer from behind a yashmak in Saudi Arabia and dance attendance upon your thick black coffee in Turkey. Eat enough of them and you will have a belly to rock and roll with a vengeance. That which is inevitable embrace, so succumb to sweet temptation with these lemony variants on the classic theme, which are filled with chopped macadamia nuts and brandy-soaked sultanas before being bathed in butter and baked until golden crisp. The Imam could not faint over them for reasons of religious observance but, if tempted, should console himself with the thought that the alcohol cooks out in the baking. Supermarkets sell frozen strudel dough, which is specified here in preference to the more usual filo. The redefinition is marginal, but enough to make a difference. The amount of lemon juice and zest in the syrup moderates the sweetness.

Ingredients

  • 225 g/8 oz sultanas
  • about 150 ml/¼ pt brandy
  • 225 g/8 oz macadamia nuts
  • 2 tsp allspice
  • 140 g/5 oz unsalted butter
  • 4 sheets of strudel pastry

For the Lemon Syrup

  • zest and juice of 2 lemons
  • 350 g/12 oz caster sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick

Method

Preparation

The day before: put the sultanas in a bowl, just cover with brandy and leave to soak for as long as you can. Ideally make this well ahead.

After the sultanas have soaked for at least 1 hour, put the nuts and allspice in a food processor and chop coarsely. Put in a bowl with the brandy-soaked sultanas and mix together with a spoon. Melt the butter over a low heat. Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/gas5. Brush whatever tin you are using with butter. You can lay the baklava rolls in parallel lines in a roasting pan or cut them in half to fit on a Swiss roll tin.

The strudel sheets are large rectangles. Cut one in half lengthwise and brush one half with butter. Spoon one-eighth of the mixture down the centre, leaving a 5 cm/2 in margin along the sides. Fold the margins over partly to cover the middle, then roll up from one side into a neat sausage. Lay this on the baking tray and brush with butter. Repeat with the other 7 half-sheets, packing them in tightly. If there is any butter left, pour it over. Make shallow cuts with a sharp knife to delineate 4 cm/1½ in portions.

Cooking

Bake for 50—60 minutes, until crisp and golden.

About 15 minutes into the cooking time, make the syrup: put all the ingredients in a small heavy pan with 300 ml/½ pt water. Bring to the boil, then simmer over the lowest possible heat for 30-40 minutes. Turn off and leave in the pan until the baklava are cooked.

Remove the baklava from the oven and immediately pour the syrup over them through a sieve. Leave to stand overnight at room temperature and do not cut until just before serving. Cut down through the existing portion marks.

Serving

Serve as petits fours after dinner or mid-morning with coffee.

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