Crispy phyllo dough layered with toasted pecan nuts soaked in maple syrup, this Pecan Baklava is always a hit with old and young.
Do I ever have a treat for you today!
This version of delicious baklava is made with pecan nuts and maple syrup. And it's an absolutely decadent treat. I brought this baklava to an Easter dinner and everyone couldn't stop raving about it.
When I first had the idea to make a maple pecan version of baklava, I thought it was a genius unique idea. Traditional baklava is usually made with walnuts or pistachios (or a mix), sugar syrup and a little honey. But a quick google search revealed others had this awesome idea before me.
Buying Or Making Your Own Phyllo Dough
However, pretty much all the other maple pecan baklava recipes I saw used simple (sugar) syrup with some maple syrup for soaking the phyllo layers. I wanted to create a treat with no refined sugar, so there is only maple syrup used in my recipe. Sure, sugar syrup might be cheaper, but using all maple syrup ensures you get the full awesome maple flavor!
I used frozen phyllo dough, because this is real life. And my overly mobile 9-month-old keeps me extremely busy. But if you are more adventurous and have a little spare time on hand, you can make your phyllo sheets from scratch. Try this Greek recipe. And if you prefer whole food ingredients, you can even use stone ground white whole wheat flour.
Step-By-Step Instructions for Pecan Baklava
There are a lot of step-by-step pictures for this recipe, so lets get right into it.
Thaw the phyllo dough overnight in the fridge. My recipe is for a 8-inch square baking pan, so we'll need about ½ pound of dough. If you want to make a full 9x13 inch pan, use the full 1 pound package.
Pecans are an awesome nut. They are similar to walnuts, but you don't run the risk of having an occasional bitter piece, as with walnuts. And pecans get even more amazing when you toast them lightly. Just spread them on a baking sheet and toast for 10 minutes at 350 F to unleash their full aroma potential. Then, simply pulse the nuts with cinnamon and cloves in a food processor.
Brush the Dish and Each Layer of Phyllo
Set up your work surface with your phyllo dough trimmed to fit the baking dish. While not using, cover the phyllo with a damp towel. Melt the butter and brush the baking dish.
Place the first phyllo sheet in the bottom of the pan. Brush with a little melted butter and place the next sheet on top. Stack 10 sheets of phyllo for the bottom layer, brushing with melted butter in between. Spread ⅕ of the chopped nut mixture on top.
Add another phyllo sheet on top and brush with butter. Stack 5 sheets this time. Then spread out ⅕ of the nuts again. Repeat layering nuts and 5 sheets of phyllo until the nuts are used up. There will be 5 layers of nuts and 4 layers of 5-sheet phyllo.
Finishing the Phyllo Layers
Alright - we're almost done. Next, for the very top layer, stack again 10 sheets of phyllo on top of each other, while brushing each with melted butter. This is how the total phyllo layer count should look like: 10, 5, 5, 5, 5, 10 with nuts in between each. Hooray for math.
Brush the top with butter as well, then cut the baklava into four rows. Continue cutting diagonal lines to result in diamond-shaped pieces.
Bake the baklava at 325 F for 40 to 50 minutes. The top layer should be golden brown and crisp.
Pour Cool Syrup Onto Hot Baklava
While scouring many a baklava recipe I came across one awesome tip. For best soaking results, add hot syrup to cold baklava or cold syrup to hot baklava. Since the latter is fastest, I pour could (room temperature actually) maple syrup over the baklava right as it comes from the oven.
Another unique tip I read said to drain excess syrup after 2 hours of soaking. I really like how this trick results in perfectly soaked baklava pieces, that aren't overly sticky, drenched and dripping with syrup.
Just take out a little corner piece, prop up the pan on the opposite corner and spoon out any syrup that accumulates.
Decorate and Store Uncovered In a Dry Place
You can decorate the baklava pieces with a little more ground nuts or even a drizzle of melted chocolate.
Store the baklava uncovered in a dry place. This way it will retain it's crisp texture.
Maple Pecan Baklava
- 8 ounces frozen phyllo dough thawed in the fridge overnight
- 5-6 ounces butter melted
- 8 ounces pecans toasted @ 350 F for 10 mins
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- 1-⅓ cup maple syrup
- Preheat oven to 325 F. Grease a 8x8-inch baking dish with melted butter.
- Cut the thawed phyllo dough to fit your baking pan. While not using, cover dough with a damp kitchen towel.
- Pulse toasted pecans with cinnamon and cloves in the food processor to medium fine consistency.
- Place first layer of phyllo into your baking pan and brush with a thin layer of melted butter. Add another phyllo layer and repeat until you have 10 layers of phyllo.
- Spread ⅕ of the nut mixture over top. Add another phyllo sheet, brush with butter and layer more phyllo until you have stacked 5 sheets. Repeat 4 times.
- On the top layer stack again 10 sheets of phyllo. Your phyllo layers should look like this 10, 5, 5, 5, 5, 10 with ⅕ of the nut mixture in between each layer.
- Cut the baklava into 4 strips. Then cut diagonally to create diamond shapes.
- Bake baklava for 40-50 minutes. The top layer should be golden brown. Pour maple syrup (room temp or cold) over hot baklava. You will here the crackling sound of the phyllo soaking of the maple syrup.
- Let baklava cool. After 2 hours, take out a corner piece and drain off any excess syrup.
- You can decorate the pieces with ground nuts or even some melted chocolate.
Other Delicious Desserts
Check out these other desserts for more sweet treats!
Pecans are a great choice for baklava due to their sweet flavor and consistent quality.
Traditional baklava is often made with walnuts or pistachios, but pecans can be a delicious variation.
Greek baklava typically uses walnuts and honey, while Lebanese baklava may use a mix of nuts and is known for its use of rose or orange blossom water.
Turkish baklava typically uses pistachios and a lighter sugar syrup, while Greek baklava often uses walnuts and honey, resulting in distinct flavor differences.