Baklava (sweetened only with honey, no added sugar)

 My family loves the taste of honey, so I use only honey to sweeten my baklava. No refined sugar. I also use fresh squeezed oranges in my syrup.  Makes it smell and taste incredible.  Enjoy!

1.5 cups honey (I highly recommend Tasmanian Leatherwood Honey)
1/4 c of orange juice (or freshly squeezed oranges/clementines)
1/4 cup of water 
1 cinnamon stick

12 oz. chopped nuts (I used pecans)
1 tsp ground cinnamon 
1/4 tsp ground cardamom 
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg 
1/4 tsp ground cloves 

18 sheets 13x18 phyllo dough, thawed (I used Fillo Factory)
1 stick of melted butter

13x9 baking pan
Silicone pastry brush

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 13x9 baking pan. Melt the stick of butter. 

Make the syrup: In a small saucepan, add the honey, orange juice, water and cinnamon stick and heat over medium heat just until boiling.  Then reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes for flavors to meld and syrup to thicken slightly. Turn off heat and let cool. 

Place the nuts on baking sheet and toast slightly in the warm oven. 
Mix the toasted chopped nuts with the cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and nutmeg. Set aside. 

Open the phyllo dough and unroll it. Cut the 13x18 sheets in the middle to create 13x9 sheets to fit the baking pan.  If you work slowly, you might want to cover the phyllo with a dampened cloth to keep it from drying out as you work. 

Place two sheets of dough in pan and brush with melted butter. Repeat with another two sheets, butter the top. Repeat until you have 8 sheets of phyllo on the bottom. Sprinkle a small amount of the spiced nut mixture evenly across the buttered sheets. Top with two additional sheets of dough, brush with butter.  Sprinkle another thin layer of the nut mixture atop the buttered sheets. 

Continue to layer the dough, butter and nuts until you have 6-8 sheets left or you've reached your desired thickness.  Leave 6-8 sheets of phyllo on top.

Score the pastry into diamond or square shapes using a sharp knife. Bake for about 45-55 minutes until baklava is golden brown and crispy. Remove from oven.   Spoon the cool syrup slowly over the hot baklava.  Let baklava cool before serving. Leave uncovered until cooled to avoid it from getting soggy. The baklava freezes well.  

Note: To avoid a soggy baklava, it’s important that you spoon cool syrup over warm baklava.  If both the baklava and syrup are hot, you may end up with a soggy treat.


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