Posts Tagged ‘nuts’

¼ Cup Baklava Cups

February 17, 2012 2 comments

I’ve been craving Mediterranean food so that’s what we’re having for dinner tonight. I’m making oven-baked falafel, rice pilaf, hummus, tahini sauce, and tzatziki with all the salad fixings (olives, cucumbers, tomatoes, feta, lettuce, onions, pickles, and pepperoncini peppers).  I wanted to make Baklava but I didn’t plan far enough in advance. So, I decided to create a quick and easy baklava-like pastry using frozen mini fillo shells. I named it ¼ Cup Baklava Cups because you use a ¼ cup of all the basic ingredients (honey, water, sugar, walnuts, almonds, and pistachios). To make it a little healthier, you could omit the extra sugar in the filling and the butter.  To me, the ¼ teaspoon of rose flower water is essential to the recipe.  Rose flower water is not the easiest ingredient to find in Huntsville, AL, but it is lovely.  It reminds me of my time living in Cyprus back in my 20s.  There, they baked cookies, baklava, and cakes flavored with rose flower water – they were delightful.

Probably the best place to look for rose flower water is in a Middle Eastern grocery, Mediterranean food market,, or a specialty food store. If you can’t find it, then orange blossom water could be substituted.  Again, not the easiest ingredient to find.   You can check the same stores.  I think our local The Fresh Market (TFM) has orange blossom water.  However, if you can’t find either ingredient, then vanilla will work.  I found the mini fillo cups at Publix.  It took three stores before I found them (Star Market and TFM did not have them). This recipe is really easy if you have a food processor:  you make a honey simple syrup, make a nut filling, fill the shells, bake, and then chill.  If you don’t have a food processor, it’ll just take a little more time to chop the nuts. 

¼ Cup Baklava Cups


¼ cup honey

¼ cup water

¼ cup sugar

1 tablespoon butter

½ a teaspoon of freshly grated Meyer lemon peel (or orange peel, optional)

1 teaspoon Meyer lemon juice (or orange juice, optional)

¼ teaspoon rose extract (orange blossom water or vanilla would also work)

⅛ teaspoon cinnamon

pinch of cloves



¼ cup walnuts

¼ cup almonds

¼ cup pistachios

1 tablespoon melted butter

2 tablespoons sugar

⅛ teaspoon cinnamon

pinch of cloves


Fillo Shells:

1 package 15 mini fillo shells (I used Athens®)

Preheat oven to 350º F. 

Syrup: Combine the syrup ingredients and simmer for about 10 minutes on medium heat, stirring occasionally.  You will end up with a nice, fragrant syrup.

Filling: Combine the nuts in a food processor and pulse 10 times.  Add the butter, sugar, cinnamon, and cloves.  Pulse another 10-12 times.    If you don’t have a food processor, just chop the nuts and add the other ingredients. You will end up with a nice crumbly mixture. 

Assembly: To keep the cookie sheet neat, I filled the shells in the plastic liner from the container.  Then, I transferred them to the parchment-lined cookie sheet.  Fill the shells with the nut filling (about a teaspoon in each shell). Carefully spoon a half teaspoon of syrup over the pastries.  Transfer the pastries to the parchment-lined cookie sheet.

Bake for about 10 minutes.  Remove from the oven.  Spoon the rest of the syrup over the warm pastries (about a teaspoon over each).  I saved the plastic tray and the original box for storing the pastries in the refrigerator.  Transfer the pastries back to the plastic tray and carefully return the tray to the box. I did this so they would stay neat and not take up too much room in the refrigerator (also, it keeps them from getting smooshed). Chill for at least 4 hours in the refrigerator.  Remove from the refrigerator about 20 minutes before serving.


I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for Ice Cream!

September 15, 2011 2 comments

Confession: I LOVE ice cream…I always have. When I was a kid, didn’t really care much for the cake, but I was all about the ice cream. As an adult, I still feel the same. A few years ago, a friend hosted a birthday dinner for me. For dessert, we had four different kinds of ice cream (no cake).  It was awesome.  My favorite ice cream that night was Dove Butter Pecan with Chocolate Ganache. I don’t think they make that flavor anymore, so I’ve attempted to re-create it. This is close; it even has an added salty element.

To help with my cooking endeavors, Matt bought us a Cuisinart ice cream freezer. Ever since, I’ve been experimenting with different frozen desserts. So far, I’ve made sorbet, frozen yogurt, and ice cream.  The best, by far, has been this salted pecan butterscotch ice cream.  Hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

Salted Pecan Butterscotch Ice Cream:
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
¾ cup dark brown sugar (lightly packed)
½ teaspoon salt
1¼ cup heavy cream
1½ cup whole milk (I substituted 1 cup half and half with a ½ cup water)
6 egg yolks*
½ teaspoon vanilla (generous ½ teaspoon)

Pour 1 cup of the cream into a 1 quart Pyrex measuring container or a medium bowl. Set a chinoise or sieve over the top (I prefer the Pyrex measuring container because it has a spout and makes it easier to pour the base it into the ice cream freezer). Prepare an ice bath in a larger bowl (I use my large KitchenAid mixing bowl or the sink).  Melt the butter in a medium saucepan.  Add the dark brown sugar and the salt and whisk until smooth.  Whisk in remaining ¼ cup heavy cream and the milk.  Warm over medium heat, stirring constantly.  Meanwhile whisk the egg yolks in a small bowl.

When the milk and sugar mixture is hot, pour a small amount into the egg yolks while whisking the yolks constantly.  Pour the tempered egg mixture back into the pan and whisk together.  Heat until the mixture thickens into a custard-like consistency (it should coat the back of a wooden spoon).

Pour through the sieve into the bowl with the remaining cream.  Add the vanilla and whisk together.  Cool by placing the bowl into the ice bath or cold water, being careful not to let any water get into the mixture.  Cover with plastic wrap, touching the surface, to prevent a skin from forming.  Refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight.

Churn the ice cream according to your machine’s instructions.  During the last few minutes of churning, add the buttered pecans.

*Note: If you don’t want to deal with the leftover egg whites, you can use three whole eggs. It does not produce the same rich and creamy ice cream, but it is still delicious.

Salted Butter Pecans:
1½ tablespoons unsalted butter
1½ cup pecan halves
¼ teaspoon sea salt (Kosher or Maldon flake are also good)

Preheat the oven to 300ºF. Melt the butter in a medium frying pan. When melted remove from the heat and toss in the pecans, stirring so they are coated. Sprinkle the salt over the top and stir again. Spread the pecans in a single layer on a baking sheet bake for 10-12 minutes, stirring once in the middle. Cool pecan before chopping them into pieces. I usually keep a few “pretty” ones for garnish.

Magic Dark Chocolate Shell:
4 oz of dark chocolate, roughly chopped+
1 tablespoon coconut oil

Place chocolate and coconut oil in a Mason jar or other heat-proof bowl.  You can heat it two ways:  1) In a double-boiler over water on medium high heat, stirring frequently until melted or 2) Use a microwave.  Heat it 20 seconds at a time, stirring in between, until fully melted.

Store in air-tight container in the refrigerator. Heat in microwave for 20 seconds before use or re-heat it in a double-boiler.

+Note: I used Trader Joe’s bittersweet.  You can use milk or semisweet chocolate, whatever you prefer.

For something different, you can use roasted salted mixed nuts (macadamia, pecan, and/or almonds are delicious), with toasted coconut and chocolate flakes.