Apricot Almond Baklava

		There is baklava, and then there is Baklava; this
		is the latter.

		An original creation by The Snotty Chef in the grand
		Byzantine style.  To think, The Imam fainted over
		mere eggplant (yes, that is a culinary reference).
		I wonder what the effects of *this* would have been.
		Of *course* it has too many ingredients!
		It is Byzantine!  It is a dessert only for a dear
		heart.  Make it exactly so.


	1     cup raisins, golden
	1/2   cup Marsala or Sherry

	3     cup dried apricots, diced medium
	1     cup brandy

	1     cup almonds, slivered, toasted, (chopped-crushed)
	1     cup cashews, toasted, (chopped-crushed)
	1     cup pecans, toasted, (chopped-crushed)
	2     cup mixture of any of the above nuts

	2     TBS lemon juice

	2      @  eggs, jumbo, (3 eggs if large) well beaten with a fork
	4     TBS butter, sweet, softened
	1/2   cup finely powdered sugar
	4     TBS heavy cream
	2     tsp lemon zest, grated

	For brushing the phyllo sheets
	3/4   cup butter, sweet, melted

	1     lbs phyllo dough, allow to thaw for 4-6 hours at room
		  room temperature

	1     TBS butter, sweet
	2     tsp lemon zest, grated

	1     tsp cardamom, ground
	1/2   tsp cinnamon, ground
	1/2   tsp allspice, ground

	3/4   cup sugar (palm/castor sugar or similar will work to advantage)

	Mixed together:
	1     cup liquid (the softening spirits from above, filled in,
			  if necessary, with apple cider, pomegranate
			  juice or water)
	1     tsp molasses

	3/4   cup honey (sourwood or orange blossom)
	2     TBS lemon juice
	1     tsp tangerine essential oil
	          (or a bit more of grated tangerine zest)
	1/2   tsp almond extract
	2     tsp vanilla extract


	1. Set the raisins to soak in the Marsala for several hours.

	2. Dice the apricots and set them to poach in the brandy in
	   a tightly covered pot over a very gentle heat.  No boiling,
	   and hardly any steam, for 30 minutes.  A double boiler
	   or Bain Marie will work nicely.

	3. While the fruits are developing, toast and crush/chop the
	   nuts. Reserve together in a bowl.

	4. Whisking in large bowl or using your handy dandy electric mixer
	   cream together the egg, butter and sugar combination, then
	   slowly incorporate the cream.  Stir in the lemon zest, and

	5. Drain and press lightly, the apricots and the raisins,
	   reserving their liquors together.

	6. Place apricots, raisins, and the nuts in a mixing bowl and
	   and toss well with The two TBS of lemon juice. Mix in the
	   the egg, butter, cream sauce.  This is the substance of the
	   baklava filling.

	   Begin OVEN PREHEAT set at 375 F.
	   Make sure middle rack is available, and place a pan of hot
	   water on the rack below middle.

	7. Butter a 9 x 14 x 2 baking pan, and lay down the first sheet
	   of phyllo dough.  Brush with the melted butter and repeat to
	   four sheets.  No, you may NOT use soy oil!  Nor may you use
	   margarine, olive oil - or anything but sweet butter.

	8. Make a thin layer of the fruit and nut mixture over the last
	   buttered sheet, dropping spoonsful well distributed, and finally
	   mashing down with the back of the spoon to smooth out the
	   distribution.  Buttering each, lay in two more phyllo sheets,
	   and again repeat dropping spoonsful of the fruit nut mixture
	   for another layer.  Continue adding alternating layers of
	   phyllo and thin layers of mixture.

	   Gently press down on the last phyllo sheet with your hands
	   to help compress and even out the mixture below before buttering.
	   Gently: the phyllo is delicate.

	   Do work swiftly, and keep your cache of phyllo sheets covered
	   with a damp towel: it is very thin, a bit delicate and tends
	   to dry out quickly losing its pliability and gaining a tendancy
	   to tear or break.

	9. When you run out of mixture, lay the remaining, buttered sheets
	   of phyllo on the top, and butter the very top sheet.

       10. Using a sharp serrated knife and an almost vibrating motion,
	   cut the built up pastry into diamond pieces by cutting at
	   45 degrees to the pan sides.  Cutting after baking will make
	   a splendid mess.

       11. Place on the middle rack in the oven and turn the temperature
	   dowm to 300 degrees F, and bake for 2.0 - 2.5 hours over the
	   pan of water.

       12. While the baking progresses, make the syrup:

	   Melt the TBS of sweet butter in a sauce pan over a medium high
	   heat, throwing in the lemon zest.  Stir and cook.  At the first
	   sight of brown anything, add the cardamom, cinnamon and allspice.

	   Stir and cook for 15 seconds, then add the sugar, stir and cook
	   for 30 seconds.

       13. Add the 1 cup of liquid, and the molasses - stir, heat, disolve
	   and bring to a boil.

       14. Remove syrup from heat.  If you like, strain the lemon zest
	   from it.  When near room temperature, stir in the honey,
	   extracts, essential oil, [tangerine zest] and lemon juice.

	   Cover and reserve.
       15. When the baked pastry is nicely browned, remove it from the oven.
	   Place on a rack to cool, and immediately, drizzle the syrup over
	   it, and allow to cool.  Serve slightly warm, or cool, cover and
	   chill in the refrigerator for another day.  Allow what you serve
	   to come to room temperature before serving if you have it

	   It would go well with an intense middle eastern coffee or

	   If you are feeling wonderfully decadant, serve with a dollop
	   of sweetened whipped cream on the side.


	1. The standard baklava filling is simply crushed nuts, often
	   classically just walnuts.  There should always be lots of
	   butter, and a sweet spiced syrup.  The single ubiquitous
	   spice in standard baklava is cinnamon, but often cloves are
	   also used.

	   This has a lighter taste, made tangy by apricot, lemon and
	   cardamom, and is uncharacteristically bound lightly by what
	   comes close to crême anglaise, or to the filling for the
	   pastry galaktobouriko.  This baklava is every bit as rich and
	   sweet as any conventional baklava, but lifts itself from a
	   certain wintery lugubriousness of those into a more sunny
	   and summery disposition.  It is still rich and sweet, so
	   a small portion goes a long way.

	2. Some recipes will withstand all sorts of changes in proportions,
	   and substitutions of ingredients; this is not one of them.
	   Though changes can be made, and there are enough alternatives
	   built in, choices and changes should be carefully considered.

	   In particular, resist any temptation to include orangy things,
	   that will diminish the result considerably.  Leave it as is;
	   this dessert neither needs nor allows outside interference.
	   Save the orange for your Italian Ricotta Cheesecake (Hmmmm).

	3. On the spices:
	   If all the spices are fresh and of full potency, these
	   particular proportions should leave the combined flavor
	   in such a balance that no one of the three should be
	   tasted.  The result should be a single taste that is
	   not simply the sum of its distinguishable parts.

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Created: July 27, 2007
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