I do like a challenge!
I was asked if I could come up with a less syrupy version of baklava and as I had some filo pastry left, I decided to give it a go.
I’m pretty pleased with the result: crispy, nutty and slightly sticky Baklava at only 110 calories a slice!
I had some agave syrup that I bought for us to try – it is low GI, so better for you as a sweetener than sugar, and while it is processed, it is not synthetic. It is also sweeter than sugar so you need less of it. You could use honey or maple syrup or sugar syrup if you prefer, but as you wouldneed to use more for the same sweetness, the end result would be higher in calories. I didn’t add any sweetness to the pastry itself.
For nuts, I chose to use ground hazelnuts, though I think that walnuts or (unsalted) pistachios, or any other nuts would work just as well.
I wanted to use rosewater in the syrup, but didn’t have any, so I used orange flower water instead. I think the flowery note makes it more middle-eastern, but if you can’t get either then probably not the end of the world! Maybe use a little lemon juice instead.
I used a slivers of lemon zest in the syrup, but orange zest would also be nice.
I had a few sheets of filo pastry left, 4 I think, plus a part sheet. So I cut them all to a smaller size, about 20 x 30cm, which I folded over to make my baklava 20 x 15 approx and used the trimmings to make up the layers as well. When baked, I cut this into 8 portion sized pieces – I got a little distracted just before putting it in the oven and didn’t cut it into shapes before baking it. Didn’t seem to matter really, I just had to be a little careful with cutting it after I had poured the syrup over.
I wouldn’t make a whole trayful unless we had a lot of guests. As it is, if you are prone to being indulgent with sweet things, it might be better to make just half the quantity!
So this recipe makes enough for 8 servings, coming in at around 110 calories each. It was an absolute winner with vanilla ice cream, as it was not as sticky as a traditional baklava. Now we have another 6 pieces to eat 🙂
- 4 sheets filo pastry
- 50g ground hazelnuts
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 20g unsalted butter
- 25g / 1 tblsp agave syrup
- 1/2 tblsp orange flower water
- 3 tblsp water
- 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
- lemon zest, finely sliced
- Heat oven to 160c.
- Melt the butter in a small pan.
- Cut your filo pastry into pieces about 20 x 30cm (8 x 12 inches).
- Keep the filo that you aren't using wrapped up in cling film or under a damp cloth.
- Take one piece and lay it on the baking sheet, doubled over, so that it is 20 x 15.
- Brush a little melted butter between the layers and on top (it doesn't need to cover everywhere, just a few light brush strokes).
- Repeat with another piece of filo, so that you have 4 layers, lightly buttered.
- Spread half the hazelnuts evenly over the pastry and sprinkle with a little cinnamon.
- Put another 3 or 4 layers of pastry on, using up any odd pieces, (keeping at least one good looking slice aside) and brushing a little butter on each layer, and on top.
- Add another layer of hazelnuts and cinnamon, saving about a half a spoonful of hazelnuts for the top.
- Finish with a final 3 or 4 layers filo, lightly buttered and ending with a nice smooth piece on top.
- Sprinkle with the remaining hazelnuts.
- It's traditional to cut the baklava at this point, into rectangles or triangles, making 8 portions from this quantity.
- Bake in the oven for about 50 minutes, turning midway if your oven tend to cook unevenly, until golden brown.
- About 10 minutes before the end of cooking, mix your syrup ingredients together in a small saucepan and heat gently.
- Remove the baklava from the oven and pour the syrup over.
- Serve warm or at room temperature.
- Depending on the size of your filo sheets, you may be able to do more or less layers, but you can use any odd pieces in the middle layers, as long as you start and finish with whole ones.
- Serve with coffee, or a small glass of sweet wine, such as Muscat de Beaumes de Venise or Monbazillac. Really very good with a scoop of vanilla ice cream (add 50 calories).
Apologies for any discrepancies between my calorie estimates and those of my recipe cards. I don’t have control over how it calculates the ingredients and it may be using different products than the ones I have entered and used in MyFitnessPal. If it is critical to you, work with the higher figure!