Recipe: Mom’s Baklava


You can’t beat one of mom’s recipes, especially if that recipe has been handed down through generations. My mother’s baklava recipe, that she first learned while visiting relatives in former Yugoslavia, has become quite famous among family and friends and is always requested at dinner parties and celebrations. I have begun my own tradition with the recipe, making it for my husband on special occasions. He and his friends have claimed it is the best baklava they have ever tasted, and I have to agree.

If you’re looking for a treat to bake for your significant other this Valentine’s Day, why not take a break from the usual cookies or brownies and try this baklava recipe? There’s nothing like homemade baklava, and your sig other will appreciate all of the effort you’ve put into making something special for them.

{Mom’s Baklava}
1 pound frozen phyllo sheets
1 cup melted butter

for the filling:
2 cups finely chopped walnuts or pecans or a mix of the two
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8  teaspoon cloves

for the syrup:
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup honey
1 cup water
1 tablespoon lemon juice


1. Thaw phyllo pastry and separate the sheets according to package directions. Most packages will say to cover the phyllo with plastic wrap and a damp towel to keep the sheets from drying out.
2. Transfer half of pastry sheets one by one onto a greased cookie sheet or rimmed pan, brushing each sheet quickly and all over with melted butter (make sure to fully cover the edges with butter).
3. Combine nuts, 1/3 cup sugar, cloves, and cinnamon; sprinkle over buttered pastry (I made slightly more of the filling and did two layers).
4. Place remaining sheets on top, brushing each with melted butter.
5. Cut baklava pastry into squares or diamonds, but leave the bottom layers uncut. Bake at 350° until slightly  golden brown and crisp, about 30 minutes.
6. Meanwhile, in a saucepan, combine remaining 3/4 cup sugar, honey, 1 cup water, and lemon juice; bring to a boil. Boil baklava syrup for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until syrupy.
7. When both the syrup and baklava have cooled a bit, pour 1/2 of the syrup over the baklava. Let it soak in for about an hour. Then cut thru the uncut layers of dough, and pour the rest of the syrup over the baklava.
8. Let the baklava soak up the syrup about 5 hours or overnight before you serve them, either on plates or in cupcake holders.


{Phyllo dough work station}


{Brush butter over the edges and work lightly inward}


{Combine chopped nuts with sugar, cloves, and cinnamon}


{Once halfway through phyllo sheets, add filling mixture}


{Cut pastry halfway through before baking – it will make for easier and cleaner cuts later}


{Pour syrup over pastry after it’s finished baking}


Let me know if you try out the recipe! Do you have any favorite desserts to bake for loved ones and special occasions?


Recipe: Holiday Dark Chocolate Peppermint Cookies


With Christmas Eve just two days away, you’re probably thinking about what desserts to serve at your holiday party or how to be festive without going overboard. This time of year, personally, I enjoy baking anything from brownies and muffins to cookies and mini cupcakes. A staple in my household this time of year is a great dark chocolate peppermint cookie recipe from The original recipe is by Jackie Schmidt and features mini mint candies on top. I modified the recipe to include real peppermint candies. Here it is:


  • 3/4 cups butter
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 cups dark chocolate chips (semi-sweet or unsweetened, your choice)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 10-12 peppermint candies, crushed (you can add more if you’d like)


  1. In a saucepan over medium heat, cook the sugar, butter and water, stirring occasionally until melted. Remove from heat, stir in the dark chocolate chips until melted and set aside to cool for 10 minutes.
  2. Pour the chocolate mixture into a large bowl (or electric mixer bowl if you have one) and beat in the eggs one at a time. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt, stir into the chocolate mixture. Here’s the variation: add the crushed peppermint candies into the mixture. Mix well. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour or more.
  3. Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease cookies sheets. Roll cookie dough into walnut sized balls (they can be a little bigger) and place 2 inches apart on the greased cookie sheets.
  4. Bake for 8-10 minutes in the preheated oven. Be careful not to overbake. When the cookies come out, some of the peppermint candy may seep out the sides, but that’s okay! It’s supposed to do that. Makes around 3 dozen cookies.

While it’s a little bit of a process to make these, they sure are a popular item at my holiday parties.

What’s your favorite holiday dessert? Let me know in the comments below!

Wishing you all a very happy holiday.