Ceci ce n’est pas un baklava. Or not quite. Baklava cookies or baklava biscuits is closer to the mark. Jody liked wafers, so that’s where we’ll land. Baklava Wafers with Raspberries, Lemon Curd and Greek Yogurt. This is an easily assembled dessert of the things you’re most likely to have on hand* – except for the baklava biscuits, er, wafers. Until a recent trip to Thessaloniki and Istanbul I would never have considered myself a baklavite. If a parallelogram of baklava and a double espresso found themselves within mutual reach, perhaps a few times a year, I didn’t object, but neither did I seek them out. All has changed, alas, since Istanbul, where the baklava is indeed something to write home about. And bring home, in the form of an obstinate spare tire I seem to have had no trouble smuggling through customs. Did anyone ever eat half a portion of baklava? A quarter? I think not, but these baklava wafers are a lighter indulgence. You can gussie them up into the full-boat dessert shown here, or you can just eat a couple as an afternoon snack with your espresso. Either way, this recipe will leave you with plenty of wafers even after the dinner guests have departed.
So many choices…
Having once had a traumatic experience trying to transport LaDurée macarons from from Paris to Boston, it never crossed my mind to think about bringing Turkish baklava back to New England. Not so my companions, who committed themselves to a kilo of the stuff each. Interestingly, when we asked a Turkish proprietor which of the 12 versions available in his shop travelled best fragility played no role in his thinking. Instead he wanted to know how long we thought it might take us to eat it. Baklava, it seems, comes in versions designed to last between a week and month, depending on how syrupy it is. Breakage mattered little, in his view, if the pieces remained moist. As for me, while I slog around Jamaica Pond listening to a Margaret Atwood novel about the dystopian future, trying to vanquish my dystopian baklava bulge, I’m glad not to have brought any back. Some relationships are best savored in hindsight. Baklava and I, we’ll always have Istanbul. Enjoy. Ken
*The sunshiney cheer of lemon curd almost always gleams from one shelf or another in our fridge. Lemon curd, tart lemon curd, is one of my top five trapped-on-a-
dessert-desert-island foods – it’s versatile, it’s delicious, and as fate would have it, I own a Thermomix, which makes whipping up a batch a dangerously spontaneous act. On the other hand, making lemon curd on top of the stove, as in this recipe, requires no culinary craft at all, except sufficient dexterity to drag a spoon around a pot in circles and a commitment to to paying attention. My point: if you don’t have a jar of lemon curd in your fridge, then your life is impoverished, even if you don’t know it, and you need to rectify that. NOW.
Baklava Wafers with Raspberries, Lemon Curd and Greek Yogurt,
Makes 12 ounces
- ¾ cup sugar
- 1 pinch Kosher salt
- 4 large eggs, beaten, at room temperature
- Grated zest 2 lemons
- Juice of 3 lemons
- 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes
- Combine the sugar, salt eggs, lemon zest and juice in a non-reactive saucepan and beat well. Add the butter and cook over low heat, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, until the sugar dissolves and the mixture thickens into curd, about 10 minutes. Be sure to keep scraping the bottom of the pan during the time this takes you; you don’t want the eggs to scramble before the curd forms. If you’re the nervous type, make the curd in a heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water (the bottom of the bowl shouldn’t touch the water). The curd will just take a little longer to thicken.
- Pour the curd into a bowl and press of piece of plastic wrap against the surface so a skin doesn’t form. If you want the curd to be super smooth, push it through a strainer before cooling. Refrigerate until cool, at least 1½ hours.
Makes 48 wafers
You will only need 12 wafers for the dessert (plus extra if you want to serve more on the side) . Make the full recipe and give some wafers away, or make half a recipe and refreeze leftover phyllo.
Note: You need 4 sheet pans for this recipe: 2 sheet pans for the baklava and 2 for covers while baking. If you decide to reuse the covering sheet pan from the first batch for the second batch (they bake sequentially, not at the same time), be sure to cool it first.
- 4 ounces unsalted butter
- 1 cup finely chopped toasted walnuts
- ½ cup sugar
- Finely chopped zest of 2 lemons
- 10 sheets phyllo dough, (about 1 package)
- 3 tablespoons honey
- Melt the butter in a small saucepan.
- Combine the walnuts, sugar and lemon zest in a bowl and toss.
- Line one of two 18″ X 13″ sheet pans with parchment paper.
- Remove the phyllo from the package and cover with a damp tea towel to keep from drying out.
- Lay a sheet of phyllo over one of the parchment papers.
- Brush with butter and then sprinkle with the nut mixture.
- Repeat 2 more times, then top with 2 more sheets of phyllo, brushing each with butter (but not adding nuts). Trim the overhanging edges of dough from the pan. Using a knife or a pizza cutter, cut the phyllo into 24 rectangular wafers.
- Top with a second sheet pan, making sure the under surface of the top pan comes in contact with the top sheet of phyllo. This will help keep the wafers intact by preventing the dough from puffing up too much. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove the top sheet pan, then reverse the baklava pan so the edge closest to the rear of the oven now faces the front. Bake until golden and crisp, an additional 10 minutes or so.
- Brush with honey.
- Repeat the entire process in another sheet pan to make a second batch of baklava.
- Once cool, store in an airtight container.
For 6 servings
- 2 cups Greek yogurt
- 1 pint raspberries
- 12 ounces lemon curd
- 12 Baklava wafers, plus extra for serving on the side (optional)
- Set a wafer on each of 6 plates. Top with a spoonful of yogurt and lemon curd. Sprinkle with raspberries. Top with a second wafer.
- Serve extra wafers on the side.
If I have a choice between a 4-hour bike ride and dessert, I choose the bike ride. So when it comes to an ending for a meal, I want big flavor, deliciousness and efficiency. This dessert is all of that.
I love baklava, but I always want the dough to be crisper, the flavor of the nuts more prominent, and the thing not to be so damn sweet. These little wafers are more phyllo than filling, use walnuts rather than the usual pistachios, and have way less honey than regular baklava. The recipe makes 3 to 4 times more than you need for the 6 or 8 people you are having for dinner, but you’ll need the extras – they’re addictive and go well with everything from coffee in the morning to grappa in the evening.
British supermarkets sell lemon curd in jars, catering to the English belief that one should should always have some lemon curd on hand. As a young girl in England I thought this was magical. As an adult, I think it’s a bit embarrassing. Why would you buy a jar of factory-made lemon curd when it’s so easy to make a superior version at home? My recipe is quick and dirty – dump everything into a pot, set it on the stove and stir. Real pastry chefs would take the trouble to strain the lemon zest out of the finished curd to produce a silkier texture. Not me. I prefer this coarser version, with its coconut-like strands of zest.