For 24 pieces
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour
2 cups white sugar
2 cups water
1 cup honey
1 cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1–½ pounds chopped almonds
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
1–½ cups unsalted butter, melted
1 (16 ounce) package frozen phyllo pastry, thawed
For the syrup:
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
½ cup honey
1 cinnamon stick
Lemon juice or lemon peel (removed prior to pouring)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the 2 cups of sugar, the water, honey, cinnamon stick, lemon, and vanilla. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 15 minutes, skimming off any foam that forms. Remove from heat and set side.
3. In a small bowl, combine the chopped almonds, 2 tablespoons sugar, ground cinnamon and cloves; set aside.
4. Brush butter on bottom of a 9 x 13-inch pan. Each sheet of phyllo dough is twice as big as the pan, so cut each in half, making 2 sheets. Place a sheet of phyllo on the bottom of pan, and brush with melted butter. Repeat process for a total of 8 sheets, buttering each. Sprinkle about ¼ to ⅓ cup of the nut mixture evenly over the phyllo, and cover with 4 more sheets, buttering each. Continue sprinkling nuts after every 4 sheets of phyllo, until all but 8 half-sheets (4 full sheets) remain unused.
5. Use remaining 8 half-sheets for the top layer, buttering each sheet of phyllo. Before buttering the last sheet, tuck in any loose edges. Press down layers with palms of your hands. Pour remaining butter over the top. With a large knife, cut 5 strips lengthwise about ½ inch deep, then cut diagonally to form diamond shapes.
6. Bake in preheated oven for 50 to 60 minutes, or until golden brown.
7. While the baklava bakes, make the syrup: boil the water and sugar until the sugar is melted. Add the honey, cinnamon stick, and lemon peel. Simmer for about 20 minutes, then remove from heat and set aside. Remove the cinnamon stick and lemon peel prior to pouring over baklava.
8. Remove baklava from oven, and immediately pour syrup over baklava. Allow to cool thoroughly. Cut diamonds to go all the way through, and serve.