I have had Greek food on the brain a lot lately, not least of all because one of our brand new venues at work is a heritage pub in Newtown downstairs and a Greek restaurant called The Animal upstairs. With all the menu revisions making me very very hungry, I was very much looking forward to going and checking it out.
Happily, the doors swung open about 2 weeks ago and things are going great guns. The decor is awesome and so is the food, although I have only sampled a very small portion of the menu so far. I am looking forward to going back with a big group of friends so with our stomachs combined we can try a whole lot more of the dishes – so stay tuned!
I have shared one recipe for baklava on this blog, a few years ago now, but I’ve always really loved the dessert and thought I’d make a slightly different version this time. Chocolate, cacao nibs, pistachios, walnuts, cinnamon, honey and crispy filo is a combination that I knew would be great so I set to work chopping, mixing, brushing and rolling these little baklava “fingers” – individual servings of sweet and sticky deliciousness.
There are so many ways that you could adapt this recipe. Add some orange zest to the filling or the honey syrup, try a different combination of nuts, use chopped dark chocolate instead of the cacao nibs, accompany the baklava, with fresh figs or pomegranate arils instead of the raspberries I have used, or serve with a slick of salted caramel sauce like they do at The Animal, or a scoop of ice cream while they’re still warm. Yum!
• 8 sheets filo pastry
• 125g butter, melted
• Persian fairy floss and raspberries, to serve
• 100g walnuts
• 100g pistachios
• 50g cacao nibs (or chopped dark chocolate)
• 1 tablespoon raw caster sugar
• 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 20g butter, softened
Honey Vanilla Syrup
• 90g honey
• 55g caster sugar
• 60ml water
• ½ vanilla bean or ½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste
Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F). Process walnuts, pistachios, cacao nibs, sugar and cocoa powder cinnamon and butter until nuts are coarsely ground. Layer four sheets of filo brushed with melted butter, spread over half of the nut mixture, cut pastry into four widthways, then roll each into a cigar shape.
Place on a baking tray lined with baking paper and brush with extra melted butter. Repeat with remaining pastry and nuts and bake until golden (15-25 minutes). Transfer to a heatproof shallow tray and set aside.
For honey syrup, combine ingredients in a saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Pour over baklava fingers, stand for 5 minutes, and serve warm with Persian fairy floss and raspberries.