baklava recipe

Did you grow up with a recipe that didn’t seem to fit into your family heritage, or the culture or region you resided in? You love it of course because you grew up loving it, but it’s unclear how and why it was always available in your home. Baklava is one of those quizzical foods for me. The treat was always at holiday celebrations, birthdays, and occasionally would even show up in our lunch boxes.

Classic baklava is deep rooted in Greece, Turkey, and surrounding Mediterranean countries. A dessert once reserved for royalty and the wealthy; the high cost of nuts and honey limited the simple luxurious treat to only those who could afford it. Today, these sweet honey-glazed pleasures are available at most Mediterranean restaurants.

Baklava is made using large sheets of layered filo dough, either pistachios or walnuts, and sticky honey syrup. It’s baked until golden brown, then scored into squares and finally again into triangles while still hot. Simple and brilliant. In this recipe, I veered slightly from this traditional triangular baklava procedure and instead decided to create baklava cupcakes! Indian vanilla beans are the perfect bean to use in this recipe, as they are very sweet, bold, and creamy.

Baklava Cupcake Recipe

Yields approximately 18-20, depending on size of tart pans

Baklava Cupcake Ingredients

  • 1 16oz package phyllo dough; thawed according to package instructions
2 sticks melted salted butter

  • 4 cups finely chopped walnuts, pistachios, or cashews
  • 1 tsp ground Ceylon cinnamon
  • 1 Ugandan vanilla bean (split and scraped)
  • 1 cup granulated brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • ¾ cup water
½ cup honey

How to Make Baklava Cupcakes

Preheat oven to 350°

Place the filo dough onto a flat surface and cover with a moist (not wet) clean kitchen towel. Place the nuts, cinnamon, and vanilla bean into a food processor and pulse until a medium-coarse consistency. Set aside. Melt the butter in the microwave for about 60 seconds.

Combine the brown sugar, lemon juice, water, and honey into a small saucepan and place over medium heat. Whisk until the brown sugar has dissolved, and then remove from heat. Cool to room temperature.

Separate three sheets of filo dough and brush with the melted butter. Place two tablespoons of the nut mixture lengthwise down the center of the dough. Roll the dough from one end widthwise until it forms a log. Pull one end in and form a spiral with the dough / nut mixture. Place into a mini tart pan. Continue the process until you have used all the filo dough sheets. Brush each cupcake with melted butter and pour the syrup over each individual dessert, dividing it amongst them all. Place on a sheet tray and bake for 20-25 minutes at 350° until the pastry is golden brown.

Let cool and remove from tart pans. Enjoy!