No, no. I didn't spell it wrong. Paklava, spelled with a "p," is Armenian baklava. The two are very similar, but there a couple differences between them. For one, paklava has a sugar-based syrup flavored usually with lemons while baklava's syrup is made with a significant amount of honey, which I happen to enjoy. Also, I've been told that paklava is not soaked in as much syrup as baklava, so it's not as heavy in that aspect. Finally though, I found that in terms of procedure, making paklava maybe slightly easier than making baklava. What I mean is usually, when you make baklava, you have to sort of spread your filling after every couple layers of phyllo. With paklava, it's 20 sheets on the bottom, put in your filling, and 20 sheets on top. The impatient person in me wants to get eating right away, so if I recipe seems easier while creating the same results, I'm all for it.
Ok, so the above was more for background information. Now, I'm going to tell you my attempts on really escalating the recipe, and wow, was the result amazing. I tried to keep the recipe true to its roots and to really not change the fundamental aspects...um, that being said instead of just walnuts and cinnamon for the filling, I did walnuts, almonds, lemon zest, lime zest, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Yes, it's a little "decked out," but in that I wasn't going to make the syrup too too lemon-y, I still wanted the essence of citrus in my filling. The almonds along with walnuts, which by the way I pre-toasted to get some of that nutty aroma out, provided a nice mix of textures with the walnuts on the softer side and the almonds still able to provide that light crunch even after the soaking.
Finally, the pièce de résistance was my oolong infused syrup. When soaked into the paklava, I want to say it almost gave the pastry a caramel note, which was amazing. I was sort of sad that the oolong didn't come out more, but anytime there are strong spices like cinnamon and nutmeg in the recipe, the more delicate flavors of something like tea are usually drowned out. Still, what I ended up doing was saving a bit of the syrup and spooning it around my paklava before I ate and that was the key! When put on the side, you can taste the delicate nuance of oolong, which paired amazingly well with the flavors of the paklava. I had mine with a cup of oolong tea on the side and the experience was second to none.
In terms of my tips for this recipe, I was told that for paklava or baklava, the secret to not having soggy pieces of phyllo was to always make sure that when you are adding the syrup to the phyllo, that one of the two is hot and the other is cold. So for this particular recipe, you need to make sure the syrup has completely cooled before adding it to the baked paklava, which has come straight out of the oven.
Other than that, working with phyllo is always tricky and you need to remember to properly THAW YOUR PHYLLO. If not, the thin pieces of dough crack and break, and then you have a real mess on your hands.
(Ingredients are below)
1. Bring water to a boil and add oolong tea leaves. Turn off heat and let steep for 10 minutes. Add rest of the ingredients to the tea and bring to boil. Simmer for 10 minutes and let cool.
3. Layer 20 sheets of phyllo on the bottom of the pan, lightly brushing every sheet with melted butter.
5. Layer another 20 sheets of phyllo on top, lightly brushing each sheet with melted butter. Put in refrigerator for 30 minutes.
8. As soon as the paklava comes out of the oven, spoon cooled syrup over the top. Cool completely before serving.
Yield: 30 to 40 pieces
- 1 1/2 cups walnuts, chopped
- 1/2 cup sliced almonds
- 1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 2 cups unsalted butter, melted
- 1 lb. Phyllo dough
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 ½ cups water
- 2 tablespoons of honey
- 1 strip of lemon peel
- 1 strip of lime peel
- 2 tablespoons oolong tea leaves