Last year I was all lilac crazy. Once I had figured out how to harvest my lilacs creating sugars and syrups, I went on a lilac baking binge, creating recipes like Lilac Ginger Ale, Lilac French Macarons, Lilac Blueberry Scones and Chocolate Truffles.
I harvested the sweetest smelling ones to make sugar, simple syrup and infused gin with lilacs. I also and spread some out on an extra large paper-lined baking sheet to dry.
Recently I was thinking how I hadn't made baklava in years and was looking for a good flavor idea as an excuse to bring on the filo dough.
The last version I posted on this here blog was an agave rose version with macadamia and pistachio nuts. That was delicious but it was time to create another variety.
I fetched some filo dough in the local supermarket and luckily, I always have tons of raw nuts on hand. The folks over Kerrygold made sure some of their delicious butter was tucked into our Pie Party Potluck swag bag. I was saving it for something special and here it was perfect.
For the nut ingredient, baklava usually calls for walnuts. I still wasn't ready to bow to tradition so instead, I substituted mellow, sweet cashews to complement the delicate, fragrant flavor of the lilac syrup.
This baklava turned out better than I expected. I brought a small tray of it along to a brunch that afternoon and got a yum consensus. Relieved the finished pastry didn't taste like perfume, this recipe is now officially on the list for a garden party I am throwing in a couple of weeks for the local community.
Lilac Cashew Baklava
- 1+3/4 cups lilac simple syrup (recipe follows)
- 12 Sheets phyllo dough
- 1 stick of melted butter
- 2 cups ground raw cashew nuts
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Grease a 9X13 inch pan.
- Throw the cashews into a food processor. Take care not to grind them completely into powder. You want bits and pieces.
- Trim your phyllo dough to your pan size. Take 6 sheets, wrap in plastic and put aside.
- Lay one sheet of phyllo down and using a pastry brush, coat the entire piece with butter. Lay the next one down until you have used up all 6 sheets, ending with the butter on top.
- Spread out the ground cashew nuts on the top sheet of phyllo, unwrap the rest of the dough and lay the 7th sheet on top.
- Slather the 7th sheet with butter and repeat until all sheets are used up.
- Then cut the layered sheets into any shape you wish, squares, rectangles. I made traditional triangles.
- Bake for about 25 minutes or until the phyllo is golden brown on top.
- When it's just out of the oven, pour the warm lilac simple syrup mixture over the top and let cool completely before serving.
For the Lilac simple syrup:
- 2 cups lilac blossoms, rinsed and plucked.
- 2 cups white granulated sugar
- 1 cup water
- Place clean lilac blossoms in a heat-proof glass bowl.
- In a saucepan, bring sugar and water to a simmer stirring occasionally.
- When the sugar and water have been thoroughly combined, pour the hot liquid over the lilac blossoms and let stand for about 2 hours before straining out the blossoms.
- Store in a tightly capped glass bottle or jar.