I was inspired by a huge box of Baklava that a co-worker brought into our clinic to share the other day. I wanted to create these delicate squares of yummy goodness, so I set out to my local grocer’s freezer to pick up a box of Fillo dough, when my eyes caught a glance of something called “mini Fillo shells”. I’ve NEVER used these before! In my excitement, a light bulb went off, hmmm! Cheater Baklava! Less work but still have that great taste, oozing with syrup and just a hint of orange, why not?
1 pkg. (15 count) mini Fillo shells, frozen
1/2 cup Walnuts
1/2 cup sliced Almonds
2 Tbsp. Sugar
1/2 tsp. ground Cinnamon
1 1/2 Tbsp. Butter, melted
1/4 tsp. Salt
1/4 tsp. Orange zest OR Orange water
Start by making the syrup for the Baklava. In my readings and learning about Mediterranean and Turkish desserts, I found out something I never knew. You shouldn’t combine hot with hot or cold with cold or something like that…. SO, I made the syrup first, to allow it to cool completely before the baklava is ready.
In a small saucepan on medium high heat, combine the water, brown sugar, honey, and the vanilla extract. Stir this to dissolve the sugar. Bring it up to a boil then reduce to medium low and reduce the syrup until it has thickened somewhat. Allow this to cool completely!
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the fillo shells into a mini muffin pan. Place them into the oven and heat them up for just about 5 minutes, no more than that.
Using a dry large pan, toast the walnuts and almonds, stirring constantly until they are golden and toasted.
Remove from pan and pour into the bowl of a food processor using the chopping blade. Add the sugar, cinnamon, butter, salt, and orange zest. Pulse until the nuts are finely chopped but not mush.
By this time the shells should be ready to be removed from the oven. Stir the nut mixture and add 2 teaspoons to each shell. You may have a little bit left. Return the shells back to the oven and bake for about 10 minutes, just enough to toast the nuts more.
Once the cooking time is up, remove the tray from the oven and using a teaspoon for each shell, pour the syrup over the nuts allowing the syrup to soak through. Once all the shells have received their first pouring of syrup, go back to the first one and pour another teaspoon of syrup over them again. Doing it this way allows the syrup to penetrate all the way to the bottom of the shell and throughout the nuts. Allow the pan to cool on the counter for about 30 minutes and then cover the tray with plastic wrap and place the tray into the refrigerator allowing to set up for at least 3 hours. Remove from the tray and serve!
NOTE: You could use whatever nuts you’d like, I just prefer walnuts and almonds.