Volcanic Baklava

This yummy dessert is truly a sensual experience. That is because if it is made right, when you eat it, the sweet goo liberally coating all aspects of the baklava will be oozing down your fingers, over your wrists and across your arms. This will require much licking to remove the sticky substance, which will then soon be all over your face as well. I can recommend this as a lovers dessert, but not a treat for the kiddies, who will undoubtedly mix the goo with copious quantities of dirt.

The Pastry


  • 4 cups chopped pistachio nuts
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 lb or 500 g phyllo leaves
    (Though this is terribly redundant, since "phyllo" means "leaves" in Greek)
  • 2 cups unsalted butter well melted.
    (Salted butter or margarine are not acceptable. Mind you, I've never seen unsalted margarine. But if you wish to use margarine, try that new olive oil margarine, because most margarine's other than olive are not made of stable oils and will have higher cholestrol than butter when heated.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • dash of ground cloves


In a large bowl combine nuts, sugar, cloves, cinnamon.

Preheat oven to 350F/170C.

Melt the butter over low heat. Layer 3 sheets of the phyllo dough brushed with butter in a 12 X 8 X 1 inch or 30 X 20 X 2-1/2 centimeter baking pan. Trim dough to fit.
(What these recipes never include is a recommendation for what sort of material the pan ought to be made of, which greatly affects the time it takes to bake. A clay pan may require the addition of as much as 15 minutes to the cooking time, glass may also add minutes, and aluminium may require the shaving off of a few minutes. You know what? Take a book with you into the kitchen while baking and peek into the oven on a regular basis and adjust.)

Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the pistachio mix over the phyllo dough.

Layer 3 more sheets of dough brushed with butter and sprinkle with 2 more tablespoons of pistachio mix. Continue to layer dough and nut mix until pan is 3/4 full.

With a sharp knife, score phyllo dough to form diamonds (diamonds are a girl's best friend!). Pour remaining butter over the dough.

Bake 45-60 minutes on middle shelf of oven. When pastry appears golden brown it is sufficiently baked.

The Syrup:


  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1-1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 Tablespoons rose water or citrus blossom water
    (My mother hates rose water because she feels likes she's eating perfume, so it is nice to have an alternative. One of these days I'd like to try other scented waters like lime or maybe even chocolate liquer and see what that does to the flavour.)
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice


In a saucepan boil 2 cups sugar and 1-1/2 cups water until the syrup will thickly coat the back of a wooden spoon.

Add 1/2 cup honey and boil.

Cook over medium heat 20-25 minutes until thick & syrupy.

Add 2 Tablespoons of rose water or citrus blossom water and 1 Tablespoon of lemon juice.

Skim foam off syrup and allow to cool.
(When I was little mother called this "scum". We used to love eating it. Though, it sounded rather pathetic telling our neighbours that our mother fed us scum.)

Allow pastry to cool only 5 minutes then pour syrup over it and allow it to soak in for 2 hours.
(Holey-moley! Do you think we could all manage to wait that long? How many of you eat cookie dough before it is cooked? Since hot syrup is rather dangerous, if you try eating it before the two hours are up, make sure you have a glass of milk or water nearby.)

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Copyright 1998 Katherine Phelps