Different Kinds of Baklava to Eat
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Most of us know what traditional Greek baklava is. Typically, it’s made of walnuts or another type of nut, depending on what part of Greece it originates from, and involves filo dough, sugar, spices such as cinnamon, and a delicious honey infused syrup. Although most recipes are fairly similar, each family tends to have their own special recipe. But did you know that there are plenty of creative, nontraditional baklava options that you can find throughout Greece? Here’s a summary of what you might find depending on what region of Greece you’re in:
Technically speaking, you can make baklava with any type of ground nut that you have on hand. However, in the United States, walnuts are the most common. For instance, in some parts of Greece, almonds are a lot more common than walnuts, which means that baklava made in these regions tends to use almonds.
Many individual regions in Greece seem to have their own special versions of baklava. There is a dessert that can be found on the island of Crete called Gastrin that has its roots in Ancient Greece. This recipe is very similar to baklava except it uses a combination of nuts such as hazelnuts, walnuts, and almonds as well seeds such as poppy seeds and sesame seeds. There is a version of baklava that originates in Thrace, which is the part of Greece that is near the Bulgarian and Turkish borders and is served at Christmastime.
In recent years, chocolate baklava has become increasingly more common, especially in Greece. There are two basic ways that it can be made. For those who prepare the filo themselves, one technique is to add unsweetened cocoa powder and a little sugar to the filo recipe before rolling it out. If packaged filo is used, you can make chocolate baklava by adding semisweet chocolate chips or chocolate shavings to the filling and prepare the baklava as usual.
Even in Greece, the method for preparing the syrup can differ. At its most basic, a simple syrup made with equal parts of sugar and water can be used. In Greece, however, honey is most often used as the main sweetener since it is so widely available. Additives such as lemon juice, orange juice, and spices such as cinnamon and cloves can also be used. There are also variations with the syrup that exist that include extra items such as pomegranate juice and even rosewater.
Besides the fact that you can change up the ingredients, it is also possible to alter the shape of the baklava, as well. One of the easiest ways to prepare it is in a large pan where you can assemble it much like an Italian lasagna where sheets of filo or laid flat and sprinkled with the filling. You can also form the baklava into package shapes, triangles, or even roll them into tight ropes.
Knowing what these baklava variations are can come in handy not just in Greece, but also in your own kitchens.
Categorized in: Greek Cooking
This post was written by Greek Boston