Michael’s mom has a dinner of a dessert!
FOR THE SYRUP:
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup water
1 cup honey
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 thick orange peel
FOR THE FILLING:
1 cup pistachios
1 cup walnut (halves and pieces)
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 pound butter, melted
1 pound phyllo dough (1 package, #2 thickness)
Preheat oven to 350º F.
For the Syrup: To a medium saucepan over medium heat, whisk together sugar, water, honey and lemon juice and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce the heat to low, add the orange peel and continue to boil without stirring for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat to cool while you assemble the baklava. The syrup will thicken as it cools.
For the Filling: To the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade attachment, add the pistachios, walnuts, graham cracker crumbs, salt and cinnamon, and pulse until coarsely chopped. Remove the mixture to a medium bowl and set aside.
To Assemble: As you work, cover the unused phyllo sheets with a damp kitchen towel. Brush a 9×13-inch pan with some of the melted butter. Unroll the whole package of phyllo and cut it in half to fit the pan or trim to fit flat. Lay 1 sheet of phyllo in the bottom of the pan. Brush with butter, covering the entire surface, then lay another sheet of phyllo on top. Continue to repeat this process until you have 10 layers. Add half of the nut mixture, spreading evenly over the buttered surface then gently press in with your hands. Begin layering phyllo and melted butter until you have 4 layers, with butter brushed on top of your 4th layer. Add the remaining nut mixture then layer 10 more sheets of dough on top, brushing with butter in between layers. Brush the top with melted butter then score the phyllo dough, cutting about 1/4-inch deep, into diamonds. This will make the baklava easier to cut later! (Cut 4 strips lengthwise, then diagonal cuts for a diamond shape).
Bake for 1 hour, or until puffed and golden brown on top. Remove the baklava from the oven and slowly ladle 1 1/2 cups of the cooled syrup over the top, allowing it to absorb in between pours. Allow baklava to sit until syrup is completely absorbed, about 15-20 minutes. Separate into bars and serve.
Tip: Assemble baklava ahead of time and freeze until ready to bake!