Sticky Vegan Bourbon Baklava

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It’s probably a bit obvious calling this baklava recipe ‘sticky’ – I mean, isn’t that the nature of it? Not to mention exactly why these seriously indulgent sweets have been pretty much top of my treat list since forever. There’s something about that nutty, syrupy, pastry combo that is just so moreish, I honestly can’t get enough of them (unfortunately for my thighs, ahem).

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Now, there are two ways to tackle the adding of the syrup. One requires chilled syrup to be poured over the hot pastry and the other option is to pour hot syrup over the cooled pastry – my favoured method because I think dealing with sticky syrup would result in a nightmarish tangled web of sugary goo. No thanks.

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Okay, so  fess up time means I must also disclose I did not make the pastry myself. Call me a cheat if you will but I am all too happy to use shop bought pastry on an occasion such as this… the occasion being we had some guests coming over for a mini Christmas soiree and I needed to find ways to ensure the evening went without a hitch and I remained stress free and completely calm – and shop bought pastry definitely helps.

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Luckily most supermarkets now stock vegan friendly filo (sometimes spelled phyllo), which means this baklava could not be easier. See, I really am here to help – now go forth and get sticky!

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ingredients

15 sheets defrosted filo pastry

1 cup hazelnuts

1 cup walnuts

1 tbsp sugar

1 tsp allspice

fresh grinding of nutmeg

1 cup vegan butter substitute (or coconut oil if you’re feeling healthy)

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for the syrup

1 1/2 cups unrefined granulated sugar

3/4 cup sweet freedom/agave or other vegan sweetener of your choosing

1/4 cup pomegranate juice (or orange/cranberry)

1 tsp gingerbread syrup (optional but nice!)

1 tsp natural orange flavouring/essence (or orange water)

1/2 cinnamon stick

3 cloves

1 lemon rind

juice of 1/2 lemon

3 measures of Bourbon

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method

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pre-heat the oven to 160 degrees celsius/320 fahrenheit

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remove the pastry sheets from the oven and cover with a clean tea towel to prevent it from drying out

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blitz the nuts in a processor along with a tbsp of sugar and 1/2 tsp allspice. set aside

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melt a cup of vegan butter and brush onto the bottom of a rectangular baking dish, and between each layer of  filo pastry, of which you should have five before you disperse the first layer of nut mixture remembering to reserve about a tablespoon for the topping. Repeat the process and top with the final five sheets, ensuring to brush the the last sheet with plenty of melted butter

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cut the pastry now – you can slice it diagonally or into squares, whichever you prefer – and then bake in oven for 50-60 minutes (depending on your oven) until golden. remove and allow to cool

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when the pastry is completely cool, put all the syrup ingredients into a saucepan and bring to the boil before simmering for 10-15minutes until the sugar completely dissolves and the syrup reduces. at the very end, add the bourbon and simmer briefly before taking off the heat and pouring generously over the pastry, making sure it gets between all the cracks. sprinkle on the remaining crushed nut mixture and allspice powder. leave it to completely cool before attempting to remove the pieces from the dish using a small spatula – or in my case a butter knife… worked a treat!

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