a better traditional & aromatic «baklava» with walnutsa better traditional & aromatic «baklava» with walnutsa better traditional & aromatic «baklava» with walnutsa better traditional & aromatic «baklava» with walnutsa better traditional & aromatic «baklava» with walnutsa better traditional & aromatic «baklava» with walnutsa better traditional & aromatic «baklava» with walnutsa better traditional & aromatic «baklava» with walnutsa better traditional & aromatic «baklava» with walnutsa better traditional & aromatic «baklava» with walnutsa better traditional & aromatic «baklava» with walnutsa better traditional & aromatic «baklava» with walnutsa better traditional & aromatic «baklava» with walnuts

Making a traditional walnut BAKLAVA even better is easier than you think because it’s all about the choice of the complementary flavors that will be added to accentuate and simultaneously brighten up this very sweet, buttery and crunchy holiday dessert !

It’s true that I do have a preference for hand-held or individual format desserts which is why I often prepare rolled baklava cigars instead of these sliceable baklava squares but perhaps the holiday season with its fancier table and place settings and cutlery requires a dessert that can be daintily set upon a plate and enjoyed with a fork and knife.

Even though the overall taste of this baklava resembles my rolled baklava cigars (see recipe here), I chose to use only walnuts this time, as Greek tradition dictates, but I kept the added aromatics mixture I prefer, to lift and brighten up the overall flavor of this very sweet and buttery dessert.

It's true that the assembly may seem complicated for a novice, since it’s a layered dessert, but it’s all about the baked filo sheets meeting the spiced walnut filling and everything, once baked and still hot, meeting the cooled aromatic soaking syrup and becoming what it is.

A little helpful note, adding those 2 layers of filo in between the filling layers or even shredding the middle filo layers and adding it to the filling to create only one filling layer, will help to keep the baklava more solid and stable as you slice into it while enjoying it, instead of the layers slip-sliding everywhere.

Another detail, the weight of the amount of syrup needed to soak the baked baklava should be equal to the weight of the baked baklava and if you want the baklava to have an even shinier and glazed surface, then drizzle some extra honey on top after soaking it, when it’s still hot.

I was wondering, when you’re preparing your festive feasts, even if the traditional recipe is reinterpreted or modified to better correspond to our times, are you often transported by memories of your (or your friends’) parents and/or grandparents who took the time to prepare these dishes ?

Holiday cooking often resembles a culinary voyage back in time and the understanding of its importance and impact, then and now.

Happy Holidays and see you all next year, wishing you PEACE, LOVE, HEALTH, SUCCESS and above all, MODERATION, to make it all possible … :)

a better traditional & aromatic «baklava» with walnuts


16 pieces x 80 grams each


filo pastry :

  • 250 grams (10-12 sheets) filo pastry, thin version
  • 200 grams (¾ cup + 1 ½ tbsp) butter, melted
  • 1 gram (¼ tsp) fine sea salt

filling :

  • 250 grams (2 ½ cups) walnut kernels
  • 25 grams (3 tbsp) dried breadcrumbs
  • 4 grams (2 tsp) cinnamon powder
  • 1,0 gram (½ tsp) clove powder
  • 0,5 gram (¼ tsp) nutmeg powder
  • 0,5 gram (¼ tsp) allspice powder

soaking syrup :

  • 300 grams (1 ½ cups) sugar
  • 250 grams (1 cup) citrus juice (1 large orange, 1 lemon, 1 lime)
  • 150 grams (¼ cup + 3 tbsp) honey (thyme preferably) 
  • 25 grams citrus peels, from ½ orange, ½ lemon and ½ lime
  • 2,5 grams (1 pod) vanilla, sliced in half lengthwise and scraped
  • 5 grams (1 whole) cinnamon stick, broken into smaller pieces
  • 0,5 gram (5-6 whole) cloves
  • 0,5 gram (1 thin sliver) nutmeg
  • 0,5 gram (2-3 whole) allspice peppercorns
  • optional : 5 grams (2 fresh) lemon geranium leaves or dried orange blossoms (or replace with ½ tbsp geranium floral water or ½ tbsp orange blossom water)

garnish : 

  • 25-50 grams (1-2 tbsp) clear honey (thyme preferably)
  • 2,5 grams (1 tsp) fresh, long citrus zests (orange, lemon, lime)


  • begin with the citrus fruits and use a peeler to remove approximately half of the outer skin (without the bitter white pith) of each and reserve for the syrup, then use a zester to prepare long thin slivers of zest and reserve these zests for the final garnish and finally extract the juice from the fruit and set aside for the syrup
  • use a food processor to coarsely chop the walnuts (do it in 3 times to avoid grinding the walnuts into a powder) and then mix with the breadcrumbs and the powdered spices and set the filling mixture aside
  • melt the butter, add the salt and lay out the 10-12 filo sheets, one on top of each other to avoid drying them out
  • brush your baking dish with melted butter (my enameled dish measure 23 cm x 23 cm x 5 cm high)
  • drizzle (do not brush) the first sheet with melted butter and lay it inside the dish, draping the extra filo up on the sides but with a longer overhang on one of the four sides and then repeat with 3 more sheets, drizzling each again, one by one and by leaving a longer overhang on each of the next 3 sides (all 4 filo sheet overhangs will be folded in before the end) 
  • *note : if using 10 sheets, use 4 for the bottom, 2 for the middle and 4 for the top; if using 12 sheets, use 5 for the bottom, 2 for the middle and 5 for the top …
  • spread out one-third of the filling inside the baking dish and cover with a butter-drizzled sheet of filo that you folded to fit perfectly inside the pan, then add the next one third of the filling and cover with another sheet of butter-drizzled filo and finally add the last third of the filling and fold over the 4 filo sheet overhangs of the bottom sheets, one by one or side by side
  • *note : if you don’t have enough intact filo sheets for the middle, you can also shred any extra sheets you have, and mix them in with all the filling mixture and just prepare one layer of filling mixture instead of 3 separate layers with 1 sheet of filo in between, this solidifies the inner structure of the baklava, just like the separate layers …
  • cut the remaining filo sheets to slightly large then the baking dish (25 cm x 25 cm in this case) and drizzle the 1st top sheet with melted butter
  • lay it on top and tuck in the sides with a pastry brush and repeat 3 or 4 times with the rest of the filo sheets until all the butter-drizzled sheets are used up, then use a sharp knife to slice into the top layers, until the 1st layer of filling and not all the way to the bottom (I do 16 pieces or 4 slices x 4 slices) and then brush the remaining melted butter on top and pour into the slice edges
  • place in the refrigerator for 30-60 minutes and preheat the oven to 150°C
  • prepare the syrup by combining the citrus juices, peels, all whole spices and flavorings and sugar in a small casserole and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a medium or low and let simmer for 10 minutes until slightly thicker and aromatic, then add the honey, stir well and then turn off and let cool down, then strain and reserve at room temperature 
  • bake the chilled baklava in the oven for 2 hours maximum, until very golden and crispy
  • *note : if making a larger baklava, then bake for 2 ½ hours …
  • remove the oven-hot baklava from the oven, immediately pour the cooled syrup on top, little by little, so it can be absorbed, recuperate the extra syrup on the sides with a spoon or baster and pour on top again, then drizzle a little honey on top, sprinkle one pinch of the long citrus slivers in the middle of each piece and let sit at room temperature until the syrup is fully absorbed (several hours) 
  • store at room temperature (not in the refrigerator), loosely covered with a sheet of plastic film on top, for up to several weeks …