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Recipe: Baklava Bundles

The history of Baklava is up for debate but it may date back to Mesopotamia, around the 13th century.  That’s old!  Its earliest concoctions were probably made with dough, nuts, sweets (like fruits).  These days, it’s made with all kinds of nuts, sweets or seldomly-used ingredients like rose water, depending on what region of the world you’re in.

In the U.S., Greek baklava is the most popular version; it’s made with layers of butter and phyllo dough bound to roasted nuts by a thick, sweet syrup.  Frankly, it’s delicious – but it’s very high in sugar and in fat.

My version isn’t traditional, by any means.  By using less phyllo, less butter, and less honey, this dessert can be just a little bit healthier and have all the flavor!

Baklava Bundles

Serves 24

  • ½ cup chopped walnuts
  • ½ cup whole almonds, chopped
  • 15 dates, pitted and chopped
  • 15 dried figs, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons orange juice
  • 4 tablespoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon cloves
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 10 sheets phyllo
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • Pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Toast nuts in a medium frying pan over low heat for about 5-6 minutes or until fragrant.  Make sure there’s only 1 layer of nuts at a time so you might have to do this in 2 or 3 batches. When done, place nuts in food processor and pulse until finely chopped but not powdered. Place chopped nuts in a large mixing bowl.

Add the dates, figs, sugar, spices, syrup and honey  to the food processor and pulse. When the mixture begins to ball, add 1 tablespoon of orange juice at a time until the mixture loosens. Add the date mixture to the nuts, add a pinch of salt and mix well. You may need to add a little more honey to get the desired consistency (a very thick, chunky paste – almost unspreadable at room temperature).

Melt the butter and create a large work surface.  Using a brush or the back of a spoon, lightly spread butter across a sheet of phyllo.  Stack a second sheet of phyllo over the first and repeat buttering.  Continue until you have a stack of 5 sheets. Cut the rectangle of phyllo lengthwise 4 times and widthwise 3 times so you have 12 pieces.  Repeat this with the second set of sheets so you have a total of 24 stacks of 5 pieces each.  Or, if you want higher “tops”, cut squares into 4×4 pieces.

Place the phyllo into the cups of muffin tins and place about a tablespoon of the fruit/nut mixture inside each.  Pull the corners of the phyllo together, forming packets.  Bake for about 20 minutes or until the phyllo turns golden.  Serve on its own or with a little minted Greek yogurt (mix 1 tablespoon of finely chopped mint with ¾ cup Greek Yogurt).

NUTRITION INFORMATION (per bundle):
144 calories ∣ 47 calories from fat ∣ 5 g fat ∣ 2 g saturated fat ∣ 24 g carbs ∣ 2 g fiber ∣ 2 g protein ∣ Good source of B vitamins ∣ manganese

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