Baklava might be my all time favorite dessert. I know that may sound crazy…. many people would probably name a soufflé or a decadent chocolate cake as their favorite dessert… not me. While I also love those luscious desserts, baklava has been a favorite of mine since childhood. I've shared a more traditional baklava on this blog before. This chocolate hazelnut creation is a bit more decadent - like the flavors of Nutella twisted into the amazing flaky layers of phyllo dough. Oh. So. Good.
Chocolate Hazelnut Baklava
1 pound hazelnuts
12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (or about 2 cups chocolate chips)
2 2/3 cups sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 pound phyllo dough, thawed
2 sticks butter, melted
2 cups water
1 1/2 cups honey
Remove the skins of the hazelnuts by heating your oven to 350 degrees, spread the hazelnuts on a rimmed baking sheet, and place the sheet in the oven. Toast the hazelnuts for about 10 to 15 minutes, or until the skins blister. Allow the nuts to cool. The skins will rub off quite easily. You can use a clean kitchen towel to rub the skins off.
Place the hazelnuts in a food processor and coarsely chop. Add the chocolate chips, 2/3 cup of the sugar, and the cinnamon to the food processor and pulse the chocolate and hazelnuts together until they are finely chopped. You might need to do this in two batched depending on the size of your food processor.
Unroll your phyllo dough (be sure to thaw it for at least 30 minutes before trying to work with it so that it doesn't break). Brush a 9 by 13 inch baking pan very generously with melted butter. Layer 8 sheets of phyllo into the bottom of the pan, brushing each layer of dough generously with butter before adding the next layer. If any edges come up the sides of the pan, use a pizza cutter or sharp knife to trim them.
Sprinkle 1/3 of the filling over the phyllo. Layer 4 more phyllo sheets over the filling, brushing with butter between each sheet. Sprinkle on another 1/3 of the filling. Layer another 4 sheets with butter. Top with the last third of the hazelnut chocolate mixture. Butter and layer 3 more phyllo sheets.
Brush the top generously with the remaining butter. Using a sharp knife, cut the baklava (all the way through to the bottom) into approximately 3-inch squares. Cut each square in half diagonally to make triangles.
Bake the baklava at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 300 degrees and bake for another 50 minutes or until golden.
While the baklava is baking, you can make the honey syrup. In a medium saucepan, heat the water, honey, and 2 cups of sugar. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Watch the syrup carefully as it's simmering… I almost always boil the mixture over onto my stove - making a huge mess…
When you remove the baklava from the oven, immediately pour the syrup over the baklava. Let stand until completely cool (at least 4 hours, but overnight is better).
You either need to lift the baklava pieces directly to individual serving plates, or place on small pieces of parchment paper or cupcake lines to catch the extra syrup.
slightly adapted from Ana Sortun on foodandwine.com