Syrup,honey, nuts, and layers of paper-thin phyllo dough combine to make this delicious Middle Eastern dessert.
Perhaps the most famous dessert in Greece and Turkey. Baklava is a sweet pastry dessert made with phyllo dough, filled with pistachios or chopped walnuts, and finally sweetened with honey or syrup.
There are about as many different stories as to the origins of this dessert as there are countries that make it--with each one claiming full responsibility for its creation, of course. Some sources claim that what we now know as baklava was invented by the Assyrians in the eighth century before Christ, then passed on by the spread of trade through the Middle East to the Greeks, who substituted thin sheets of phyllo ("leaf") dough for the thicker, more-breadlike mass originally used. Other sources claim that the origins of both pastry and dough can be found in medieval Turkey-- "...If this is so, baklava actually pre-dated filo, and the paper-thin pastry we know today was probably an innovation of the Ottoman sultan's kitchens at Topkapi palace in Istanbul." Frogmore House
No matter where they may be from, all types of baklava share three main ingredients: phyllo leaves, a mixture of nuts, and sugar. The rest, though... let's just say that there's room for variation. Quite a bit of it, in fact. Some cultures bake their baklava in flat sheets, with layer after layer of delicate phyllo sandwiched by walnuts, almonds, or pistachios. These sheets are usually cut into either diamond or triangle-shaped wedges when served. Others favor rolling the dough into pinwheels and circular slices. A common dispute is whether or not honey belongs in the syrup that is drizzled over the finished sweet. Personally, I have trouble imagining the dish without it.