Monday, June 27, 2011

Daring Bakers': Chocolate Baklava

Erica of Erica's Edibles was our host for the Daring Baker's June challenge.  Erica challenged us to be truly DARING by making homemade phyllo dough and then to use that homemade dough to make Baklava.

For this challenge I enlisted the help of my mother and one of her best friends :).  I wouldn't have been able to complete this without them, so they deserve a BIG THANK YOU!  They also deserve credit for coming up with the Chocolate Baklava idea, so another round of thanks for that!

Even though making the homemade phyllo was extremely tedious, it was definitely worth the effort.  This baklava was the best any of us had ever tasted!  Better than what we've tasted from Greece and Turkey.  Each bite, perfectly sweet and sticky, had the most amazing flavor not just from the Nutella, but from the toasted hazelnuts and syrup as well.  I bet you can't have just one! 

Chocolate Baklava

Phyllo Dough
adapted from Kaffeehaus – “Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague” by Rick Rodgers

*To have enough to fill my 9” x 9” baking dish with 16 layers of phyllo I doubled this recipe. 
*Single recipe will fill a 8” x 5” baking dish. 
*Dough can be made ahead of time and frozen.  Just remove from freezer and allow to thaw and continue making your baklava


1 1/3 cups flour 
1/8 tsp salt 
1/2 cup less 1 Tbsp water, plus more if needed 
2 Tbsp vegetable oil, plus additional for coating the dough 
1/2 tsp cider vinegar, (could substitute white wine vinegar or red wine vinegar, but could affect the taste)


In the bowl of your stand mixer combine flour and salt.  Mix with paddle attachment.  Combine water, oil and vinegar in a small bowl.  Add water mixture with mixer on low speed, mix until you get a soft dough, if it appears dry add a little more water.

Change to the dough hook and let knead approximately 10 minutes.  You will end up with beautiful smooth dough.  If you are kneading by hand, knead approx. 20 minutes.
Remove the dough from mixer and continue to knead for 2 more minutes.  Pick up the dough and throw it down hard on the counter a few times during the kneading process.

Shape the dough into a ball and lightly cover with oil.  Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and let rest 30 minutes to 2 hours, longer is best
Rolling your Phyllo

** Remove all rings and jewelry so it does not snag the dough**

Use whatever means you have to get the dough as thin as you can. I have included a video at the end of this section on how to roll out your phyllo dough, using a wooden dowel, which worked perfectly for me.  You may also use a pasta machine if you have one, or a normal rolling pin, or a ceramic slab roller as my mother attempted to use at first...really whatever works best for you.  We actually ended up using a wooden dowl, a muslin cloth, and lot and lots of flour.

Unwrap your dough and cut off a chunk slightly larger then a golf ball.  While you are rolling be sure to keep the other dough covered so it doesn’t dry out.  Also be sure to flour your hands, rolling pin and counter.  As you roll you will need to keep adding, don’t worry, you can’t over-flour.

Roll out the dough a bit to flatten it out.  Wrap the dough around your rolling pin/dowel.  Roll back and forth quickly with the dough remaining on the dowel (see video below for a visual, its much easier then it sounds).  Remove; notice how much bigger it is!  Rotate and repeat until it is as thin as you can get it.  Don’t worry if you get rips in the dough, as long as you have one perfect one for the top you will never notice.

When you get it as thin as you can with the rolling pin, carefully pick it up with well floured hands and stretch it on the backs of your hands as you would a pizza dough, just helps make it that much thinner.  Roll out your dough until it is transparent.

Set aside on a well-floured surface.  Repeat the process until your dough is used up. Between each sheet again flower well.  You will not need to cover your dough with a wet cloth, as you do with boxed dough, it is moist enough that it will not try out.

For the syrup (make the syrup while the baklava is in the oven)
adapted from Alton Brown, The Food Network
(I had a lot leftover, so next time I may just halve the recipe)


1 1/4 cups honey 
1 1/4 cups water 
1 1/4 cups sugar 
1 cinnamon stick 
1 piece lemon peel
a pinch of ground clove


Combine all ingredients in a medium pot over medium high heat.  Stir occasionally until sugar has dissolved.  Boil for 10 minutes, stir occasionally.  Once boiled for 10 minutes remove from heat and strain cinnamon stick and lemon, allow to cool (or if you are short on time, put the syrup in a ice bath).

When you combine the baklava and syrup, one of them needs to be hot. I found it to be better when the baklava is hot and the syrup has cooled.

For the filling
adapted from


1 cup hazelnut chocolate spread (such as Nutella)
1/2 cup roasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup roasted pistachios, coarsely chopped (plus more for garnish)
1/3 cup blanched roasted almonds, coarsely chopped
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt
Cooking spray
1/2 cup butter, melted


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the Nutella in a microwave-safe bowl; microwave on High for 30 seconds or until melted.  Combine the hazelnuts, pistachios, almonds, cinnamon, and salt in a small bowl.  

Lightly coat a 9 x 9 baking dish with the cooking spray.  Working with 1 phyllo sheet at a time, place 1 sheet in the bottom of the pan and brush lightly with the melted butter.  Repeat this with 3 more sheets of phyllo and butter.  Drizzle about 1/3 of the melted Nutella over the phyllo layer.  Next sprinkle about 1/3 of the nut mixture.  Repeat this entire procedure (4 layers of phyllo a butter, one layer of Nutella, one layer of the nut mixture) two more times.  For the top, layer 4 more sheets of phyllo and butter and then press down gently into the pan.

With a sharp knife cut your baklava into desired shapes and number of pieces.  If you can’t cut all the way through, don’t worry, cut the top layer and later on you will be able to cut all the way through.  A 9 x 9 pan cuts nicely into 30 pieces (cut lengthwise and crosswise).  Now brush with a generous layer of melted butter and make sure to cover the entire area.

Bake for 30 minutes or until phyllo is golden.  Remove from the oven.  Now cut all the way through if you weren’t able to cut all the way before.  Place back in the oven for another 30 minutes.  Remove from the oven and pour the cooled (it may still be a bit warm) syrup evenly over the top, taking care to cover all surfaces when pouring.  I had way too much syrup, so I poured the syrup until it reached the top layer of phyllo.  It will look like it is a lot of syrup, but over night it will soak into the baklava creating a wonderful texture. 

Allow the baklava to cool to room temperature.  Now cover and store at room temperature overnight and in the morning the syrup will be totally absorbed.  Serve at room temperature.
Tips on storing:  It is recommended that you store your baklava at room temperature in an airtight container.  Stored at room temperature your baklava will last for up to 2 weeks.  You will notice as the days pass it will get a little juicier and chewier.  You may choose to store it in the fridge; this will make it a little harder and chewy, but does increase the shelf life.  You can also freeze your baklava and then just set it out at room temperature to thaw.


  1. Nice - I also used chocolate and hazelnuts, as did Jana from Cherry Tea Cakes. Must be a DC thing. I had a friend help me and think this would have been much more challenging without help. Yours flaked beautifully.

  2. Chocolate and hazelnuts, a tasty combo. Couldn't take my eyes off your baklava, looks super delicious.

  3. Mmmmmm, almost a nutella baklava, sounds great!

  4. Oh yes, definitely can't have just one, especially involving Nutella! You did an amzing and delicious version of baklava, I'm drooling!

  5. Lovely flavour combination. I wish I could taste yours as I'm not sure I cn summon up the energy t make this from scratch myself! ;-)

  6. Yum! And I know because I used that same filling recipe from allrecipes! Isn't it funny that we can be on opposite sides of the country (if you are still in DC I'm in Washington State) and still have access to the same recipe. Nice job on the challenge!

  7. Your chocolate baklava sounds amazing and looks even better! I can imagine myself eating a huge lot of these beautiful baklava pieces of yours :) Great job on this challenge!