The end of a long quest for the ultimate baklava recipe that is authentic in taste but also low-fat. The secret is the butter-flavored cooking spray.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
To make the syrup:
Put sugar, honey, water, lemon juice, cinnamon sticks, and cardamom in large sauce pan and stir over low heat until the sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes.
Stop stirring, increase the heat to medium, and cook until the mixture is slightly syrupy, about 8 minutes.
Discard the cinnamon sticks. Let cool.
To make the filling:
Combine nuts, cinnamon and cardamom.
To blanch nuts: Pour boiling water over nuts, wait for 1 minuted, then press nuts out of their skins.
To unsalt salted pistachios: Rinse repeatedly with water, then roast in oven or on stove.
Grease a 13-by-9-inch baking pan. Place a sheet of phyllo in the prepared pan and lightly brush with butter. Repeat with 7 more sheets.
Spread with 1/3 of the filling. Top with 8 more sheets, brushing each with butter.
Spread with another 1/3 of the filling. Top with 8 more sheets.
Spread with the remaining nut mixture and end with a top layer of 8 sheets, continuing to brush each with butter.
Trim any overhanging edges. Using a sharp knife, cut 5 equal lengthwise strips through the pastry. Make 3 cuts across to form rectangular shapes. Alternatively, make 1 1/2-inch-wide diagonal cuts across the strips to form diamond shapes.
Just before baking, lightly sprinkle the top of the pastry with cold water. This inhibits the pastry from curling.
Bake for 30 minutes.
Cut through the scored lines. Drizzle the cooled syrup slowly over the hot baklava and let cool for at least 4 hours.
Cover and store at room temperature for up to 1 week. If the baklava dries out while being stored, drizzle with a little additional hot syrup.
I typically make a mix of different nuts but always include pistachios and almonds.
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