Phyllo-sophy of Love

I'm not sure why it is that I have waited 12 years of my married life to make baklava. Had I known the simplicity of it's execution, or that it had the power to reconcile almost any disturbance in marital bliss, I would have attempted this Turkish delight a long time ago. Communication is foundational; but butter, nuts, and honey appear to be close contenders for cementing a relationship. And why wouldn't you find yourself perfectly agreeable to live with when you can present a beautiful confection that requires nothing more than assembly. Baking at its best: a layer at a time to the heart of my man.

Simply Perfect Baklava

1/2 pound chopped pecans 1/2 pound chopped almonds 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1 (16 ounce) package phyllo dough 1 cup butter, melted 1 cup white sugar 1 cup water 1/2 cup honey 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

Preheat oven to 350F. Butter a 9x13 inch baking dish. Toss together cinnamon, pecans, and almonds. Unroll phyllo and cut whole stack to fit the dish, if needed. Cover phyllo with a damp cloth while assembling the baklava, to keep it from drying out.

Place 3 sheets of phyllo in the bottom of the prepared dish. Brush generously with butter. Sprinkle 3 tablespoons of the nut mixture on top. Repeat layers until all ingredients are used, ending with about 6 sheets of phyllo. Using a sharp knife, cut baklava all the way through to the bottom of the dish into four long rows, then diagonally to make diamond shapes. Bake in preheated oven 40-50 minutes, until golden and crisp.

While baklava is baking, combine sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Stir in honey, vanilla and lemon extract, and zest, reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes.

Remove the baklava from the oven and slowly pour the syrup evenly over it. Let cool completely before serving. Store uncovered.

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