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Orange-Spiced Baklava

What you need: 

Sauce of Bliss:
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup agave nectar
1/4 cup organic white sugar
2 whole cinnamon sticks
3 whole cardamom pods
3 whole cloves
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon minced orange zest
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/16 teaspoon sea salt (a dash, in other words!)

Filling:
1/2 cup (2 1/4 ounces) walnuts
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon organic sugar
1/8 teaspoon sea salt Phyllo:
1/2 pound phyllo dough, thawed
6-8 tablespoons non-hydrogenated margarine

What you do: 

1. Place all of the sauce ingredients in a small pan, stir well, and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer gently (uncovered) for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Set aside. Once cooled, remove the cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods, and cloves.
2. To prepare the filling, chop the walnuts in a food processor until very coarsely ground. Alternatively, you can place them in a sealed plastic bag and smoosh them with a rolling pin or mallet. Mix with the cinnamon, sugar, and salt and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Melt the margarine. Divide the phyllo into 2 portions.
3. Set 1 of the portions aside, covered with a lightly damp towel. Using a pastry brush, coat the bottom and sides of a 9x9" pan with some of the melted margarine. Place 1 sheet phyllo (from the uncovered stack) on the bottom of the pan and brush it lightly with margarine. If your phyllo doesn’t fit the size of the pan, simply cut it or overlap it a bit; you can even things out as you go.
4. Continue layering 1 piece phyllo at a time, brushing each piece lightly with margarine, until you have used up the first portion of the phyllo. Top evenly with the nut mixture. Uncover the second portion of the phyllo and use it up in the same manner as you did before. Keep placing single layers of phyllo on top of each other, brushing each lightly with margarine.
5. When you’ve used up the last of the phyllo, bring on the knife. You’re about to cut the phyllo into individual pieces, very carefully. Begin by cutting diagonal lines (with a 1 1/2" space in between each cut) across the whole pan. If it helps, you can hold onto the top layer of phyllo with your other hand as you make your cuts all the way through to the bottom of the pan. Next, make cuts (again with a 1 1/2" space in between) that are horizontal across the pan. Short story long, you want diamond-shaped baklava.
6. Next, pour about 1/2 the sauce evenly over the top of the phyllo. Bake for about 20-30 minutes, or until very nicely golden browned. Once the phyllo just starts to brown (after about 15 minutes), you will want to check it often, as it can burn easily. Remove from the oven. Pour the remaining sauce evenly over the top of the baklava. This may seem like a lot of sauce, but the longer the baklava sits, the less saucy and sweet it becomes.
Enjoy your gleeful feelings of accomplishment, and the insanely delicious eats. Most people would never guess how easy it is to prepare a luscious tray of baklava. Do you still not believe me? Then try this delectable recipe and prepare for a yummy surprise! I’ve purposely kept the orange flavor subtle, but you may increase the orange zest if you prefer a stronger orange kick.
Source of recipe: I wrote this for my first book, "Radiant Health, Inner Wealth." www.radianthealth-innerwealth.com

Preparation Time: 
20-ish minutes, Cooking time: 20-30 minutes
Cooking Time: 
20-30 minutes
Servings: 
1
Recipe Category: 

SO HOW'D IT GO?

Oh this has become a thanksgiving favorite. 

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This is a great recipe, easy to follow and reaps wonderful results loved by vegans and non-vegans alike!. I added 1 teaspoon of the orange zest and to finish it off after baking but before adding the final saucy syrup, I sprinkled a handful of roughly chopped walnuts sprinkled with cinnamon on top. Next time I make it I plan to make just a little bit more sauce, maybe a quarter to a half a cup more, to satiate my desire for the sticky saucy goodness. Yum!!

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