In Albanian culture, “bakllava” is one of the most popular pastries around the holidays, especially during Christmas and Easter. And for good reason! My mother’s recipe is enjoyed and cherished, but she makes her own phyllo and it is an extensive process. I may share that with you guys one day! My pistachio & walnut baklava recipe is inspired and super easy.
Everyone has their own way of making baklava and there are so many variations. But the more common style baklava is spiced with cinnamon and/or nutmeg and usually drenched in a honey syrup. Albanian style baklava is simple. No spices and no honey. The nuts keep their delicious flavor without any enhancements or aromatics and it all gets soaked in a homemade vanilla syrup. The syrup gets absorbed while the baklava is cooling and gives it the perfect texture.
Albanian baklava is typically more wet and much softer, this one is right in the middle, not too crispy and not too soft. I was always taught to cool the syrup before pouring it over the baklava, this results in a better texture. SOOOO GOOD!
Growing up, my mother always made hers with walnuts only. In my recipe, I like to use a pistachio and walnut blend. You could, of course use any nuts you’d like. Almonds and hazelnuts work great too.
Phyllo dough is inexpensive and usually found in the freezer section of your supermarket. All of them come in different shapes and the amount of sheets vary. However many sheets you have in your package, just divide them evenly in half. Use the first half for your bottom layer and the 2nd half for your top. With nuts in the middle of course. It’s very simple!
How to make pistachio & walnut baklava
- Butter your dish and lay your first fitted phyllo sheet down. Butter each layer as you place them down.
- Once your first half is down, add your ground nut mixture and spread them evenly.
- Continue laying the rest of your phyllo sheets to top.
- There should be a bottom layer of phyllo sheets, a middle layer of nuts and a top layer of phyllo sheets
- Cut the pastry into your desired shape. Bake for 45-50 minutes until golden brown. Once it’s out the oven, pour the cooled syrup all over the pieces and allow the baklava to come to room temperature before enjoying.
This baklava is not super crispy, nor is it mushy. It’s the perfect texture and so delicious. But I will warn you, it is VERY addicting.
Pistachio & Walnut Baklava
- 9×13 Sheet Pan
- Pastry brush
- Food Processor
- 1.5 qt Saucepan
- Sharp knife
- Mixing Bowls
- 1 16 oz package of phyllo dough
- 1 stick unsalted butter melted
- 1 cup shelled pistachios
- 1 cup shelled walnuts
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 cups water
- 1 tsp vanilla extract optional
- Preheat the oven to 350°
- In a food processor, blend the nuts along with the salt until finely chopped with some bigger pieces throughout. Pour them into a bowl and set aside.
- Divide your phyllo sheets in 2 even piles. Trim the edges to fit your pan. Brush your pan with the melted butter and place down 1 sheet of phyllo to fit. Repeat this step until you've layered your first pile, buttering each layer. Sprinkle the nuts evenly and then follow with your remaining sheets. Every package is sized and amounted differently. I like to do even layers on the bottom and top, and nuts in the middle. Cut the baklava into your desired shape. Diamond shape is the most classic. Top with the remaining butter and bake in the oven for 45-50 minutes or until golden brown.
- Meanwhile, add the sugar and water along with the vanilla to your saucepan. Cook on low heat, stirring occasionally. The sugar will dissolve and the syrup with slightly thicken. This will take about 30 minutes. Allow the syrup to come to room temperature before pouring over the baklava. This can also be made in advance (see notes). Once the baklava is out of the oven, gently pour the cooled syrup evenly over all of the pieces. Enjoy at room temperature. Top with nuts (optional).
- This recipe can easily be made vegan by simply replacing the butter with a vegan substitute. Most phyllo dough is vegan and very easy to find.
- Each package of baklava is different. I’ve used some with 22 sheets, 18 sheets and 30 sheets. I like to do even layers on the top and bottle and add the nuts in the middle.
- You could really use any nuts you’d like. Walnuts alone is also delicious. I’ve used hazelnuts as well. Pistachio and walnuts is my favorite combination.
- The syrup may seem like it’s too much once it’s poured, but it will all get absorbed and thicken while cooling at room temperature.
- You can make the syrup a day in advance and leave it in the fridge before using. When the baklava is hot and the syrup is cold, this results in a crispier texture.