I lovingly refer to these as deconstructed baklava blocks. Phyllo is the backbone of many Turkish desserts, and I have fond memories of it. When I was four years old, I would watch in wonder as my mom, my aunts, and my grandma stretched fresh phyllo on the table top and then layered them to make crispy, sweet baklava. Pistachio was always my favorite! Like raising a child, stretching fresh phyllo into its paper-thin wonder really does take a village (or at least a large family). I thank Buddha for goodquality store-bought phyllo every time I pull it out of the freezer.
Phyllo is so wonderfully crisp, and when baked with butter and glazed with the honey syrup, it’s addictive! I find this preparation much easier than the traditional baklava, as the squares are more manageable, and they can get really golden brown and crispy. You can use them to give texture to your parfaits, layer as a mille-feuille or napoleon, or even place a lovely stack on a cheese platter. Whatever you do, enjoy them, and imagine that a wide-eyed, four-year-old Yigit is watching you make them
- Yield: 10 Squares
- ½ Orange Grated zest
- 100 g (½ cup) granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling
- 2 g (2½ tsp) ground Ceylon cinnamon
- 1 g (¼ tsp) ground green cardamom
- 6 sheets phyllo dough
- 100 g (2⁄3 cup) unsalted butter, melted
- 40 g (¼ cup) light honey
- Preheat the oven to 325°F (165°C). Line the bottom of a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Clean a 24-by-18-in (60-by-45-cm) cutting board or set up a separate, parchment paper–lined baking sheet. Combine the orange zest with the 100 g ½ cup sugar in a small bowl; with clean hands, rub the orange zest into the sugar to release the essential oils. Add the cinnamon and cardamom to the sugar and mix to combine.
- Lay 2 sheets of phyllo dough onto the work surface, use a pastry brush to apply a thin layer of the melted butter, and then sprinkle liberally with a layer of the scented sugar. Lay another 2 sheets of phyllo dough on top of the first layer and press lightly. Add more melted butter and then scented sugar, the final 2 sheets of phyllo, and a final layer of butter and scented sugar. You should have used all the butter and scented sugar by now.
- Cover the layered phyllo completely with damp paper towels, to prevent the fragile dough from drying out and cracking, and place it in the refrigerator for 10 minutes, or until the butter returns to a solid state.
- When the butter is cooled to solid, remove the phyllo layers from the refrigerator and remove the paper towels. Use a pizza cutter or a very sharp knife to cut the layers into 2-in (5-cm) squares. Place the squares onto the prepared baking sheet and cover them with another piece of parchment paper. Weigh the top parchment paper down with another baking sheet. Alternatively, you can lay the phyllo squares on a silicone baking sheet and lay another sheet of silicone directly on top to weigh them down.This will ensure that the phyllo squares will puff just enough to be flaky and crispy while still maintaining a crisp, linear look.
- Bake for 10 minutes. The squares should begin to lightly brown, especially along the edges. Remove the top baking sheet and rotate the bottom baking sheet 180 degrees, then bake for another 10 to 12 minutes, until the squares caramelize evenly through the center and become crispy, flaky, and golden. Remove from the oven; let cool at room temperature.
- While the squares are baking, heat the honey in the microwave for 20 seconds or until liquid and easy to spread. Alternatively, place it in a small saucepan and heat over low heat for 1 minute. When the squares are finished in the oven, brush them very lightly with the warm honey and sprinkle with granulated sugar immediately.
- The squares are best served fresh. If needed, you can store them in an airtight container for up to 3 days in a cool, dry place, but if you do this, I recommend waiting to glaze them with the honey until just before serving so that they don’t get soggy. Refresh them in the oven before brushing them with the honey.