It's December, the month when I make trays of divine baklava.
Baklava is a nut-filled multi-layered pastry that is believed to have originated in Turkey. My cursory search for the etymological origins of the word baklava resulted in varied and debated answers. One suggestion is that the word baklava is derived from the Farsi for "many leaves," while Wikipedia documents that Paul Buell argues the word comes from the Mongolian root for "tie up, wrap up, pile up."
Tie up, Wrap up, Pile up sounds eerily similar to Bell Biv DeVoe's verse in their hit Do Me!, Smack it up, flip it, rub it down. . " Hmmm, Bell Biv DeVaklava anyone?
You won't believe me until you taste it, but my baklava leaves a sweet lacquer on the inside of your mouth that you can continue to tongue hours after eating. While the flavor gives a coat to your throat, the baklava won't clog your arteries with a waxen fat because I use extra virgin olive oil in lieu of butter. This oil variation, which is healthier and easier than using traditional butter, is found in Gil Marks' The World of Jewish Desserts cookbook: "Instead of brushing each layer of phyllo with butter, cut the unbaked baklava into diamonds all the way through, drizzle with 1 cup vegetable oil (I use extra virgin olive oil), and let stand for 10 minutes before baking."
Photos from my endeavors:
Coarsely chopped almonds with a bit of cardamom and cinnamon, but no sugar, comprise the first of two layers of nuts.
While you drizzle the olive oil, pout your mouth as if it's full of plump, ripe olives that will be juiced by the mastication of your large or tiny teeth.
The oil seeps into the creases of the cut sheets of dough the same way that any liquid will find a fold, whether in skin or soil. The oil drenched pan of baklava is baked at 350 degrees for approximately 35 minutes.
After removing from the heat of the oven, a honey syrup is poured over the baklava. As the cool syrup hits the hot pastry, a buzz of bees sizzles from the pan and mellifluous unlearned words hive your mind.
This picture makes my mouth dew. The transparent pastry with glistening beads of spiced syrup are fodder for poetry and stories that wouldn't be appropriate to post here, but will likely include the words skin, spit, seep, bud, soak, and of course the every-sexy crunch.
Enjoy the sweet nuts of the Season, and tell us your favorite Holiday treat!