I usually leave the baking of this recipe to my sister-in-law since: (1) she is really good at it and (2) this is way too labor-intensive for me. But I had a free Sunday afternoon and what's a girl to do?
This sticky and divine dessert pairs perfectly with coffee (or tea!) and makes a great gift.
1 package phyllo dough
4 cups chopped walnuts
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 stick butter, melted
2 cups honey
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
3 tsp. vanilla extract
Remove phyllo dough from package and place in the freidge for 24 hours to thaw. Remove from fridge 1 hour before using.
When working with phyllo dough, only remove the sheets you immediately need, keeping the other sheets covered in plastic wrap, then a damp cloth.
Toss together the chopped walnuts and cinnamon. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Thororughly butter a rectangular baking pan. Make sure the sheets of phyllo will generally fit the pan.
Butter the top sheet of phyllo with melted butter, then grab it and the unbuttered sheet below it. Set the two sheets in the pan, buttered sheet face down. Press lightly into the pan. Repeat this twice more, so that you have six sheets of phyllo in the pan, three of the sheets buttered.
Sprinkle on enough walnuts to make a single layer. Butter two sheets of phyllo and place them on top of the walnuts. Add more walnuts, then two more buttered phyllo sheets. Repeat this a couple more times, or until you are out of walnuts. Top with 4 more buttered phyllo sheets, ending with a buttered top. Cut a diagonal diamond pattern in the baklava using a very sharp knife.
Bake for 45 minutes, or until the baklava is golden brown.
While the baklava is baking, combine 1 stick of the butter, honey, water, sugar and vanilla in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low.
When you remove the baklava from the oven, drizzle half the saucepan evenly over the top. Allow it to sit and absorb for a minute, the drizzle on a little more until you think it's thoroughly moistened.
Allow the baklava to cool, uncovered for several hour.