Showing posts with label pistachios. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pistachios. Show all posts

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Many Layers of Baklava #recipe @LucyBurdette

LUCY BURDETTE: Our daughter and son-in-law visited Turkey this fall and look at what they brought back to us: samples of one of my favorite desserts, baklava. Isn't that the best gift ever? Those tasty nuggets inspired me to try making it--again.

Quite a few years ago, I was asked to help our son's elementary school class make baklava. (They must have been studying food from various countries around the world.) Though I've always been a fan of this pastry, I had never had the nerve to try making it myself. Believe me, if a group of schoolkids could make it, anyone can:). The only problem we had was discovering occasional brush bristles in the finished pastry--this I blame on poor quality pastry brushes and intense paint strokes...


1 pound package of phyllo dough, thawed overnight, then brought to room temperature

1 pound walnuts or mixture of pistachios and walnuts (I used 1/3 salted pistachios and 2/3 walnuts)

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

3 sticks unsalted butter, melted

12 ounces honey

Chop the walnuts and pistachios finely in a food processor and then add the sugar and cinnamon and pulse to combine these.  Set this aside.

Remove the phyllo dough from the package and unroll it on a clean counter. Butter a 13 x 9" baking dish and layer in 8 of the phyllo sheets, one at a time, buttering each sheet with a pastry brush dipped in the melted butter.

As you work, cover the remaining sheets of phyllo with a damp towel so they don't dry out. (Don't sweat any little tears--they won't show up in the end.)
Pour 1 cup of the nut mixture over the eight layers of phyllo and spread this evenly to the edges. Continue to layer eight more sheets of dough, painting each with melted butter. 

Spread another cup of the nut mixture over the top. Repeat the layers and the nut mixture until all the nuts are used, ending with phyllo. 

With a sharp knife, cut the baklava into diamond shapes. Bake at 325° for 45 minutes or until golden. 

Remove the dish from the oven and drizzle honey over the dough until it does not absorb any further. To the left is the honeyed pastry before it has soaked in. (I used a full one pound jar of local honey.) Then sprinkle with some ground up pistachios if you like that look. (I did.)

Let cool and sit for six hours or overnight, then serve at room temperature, well wrapped. Oh the agony of waiting! But it's worth it. My guests told me this was the best baklava they had ever eaten. My hub and I had to agree. 

These little squares could make a splendid addition to a Christmas cookie platter!

Question:  How is a good mystery like a piece of baklava? 

Answer: Many layers!

 DEATH WITH ALL THE TRIMMINGS is here in time for Christmas stockings! 

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Friday, March 12, 2010

Cleo Coyle's Shamrock Pistachio Muffins (with Ricotta)

Here in New York City the St. Patrick’s Day parade is one of the biggest of the year.

Hot coffee is a must for me and my husband on those cold March mornings when we line up with our fellow New Yorkers to watch the parade.

Portable food is also a good idea, especially when it’s green. So this year I created a special St. Patrick’s Day Shamrock Pistachio Muffin using ricotta cheese.

Why ricotta? Because even though everyone is Irish on March 17, I’m Italian every other day of the year, and this sweet, soft Italian cheese is a fantastic ingredient for making a tender, delicious muffin.
BTW - Below are a few of my photos and my YouTube video (just uploaded this weekend) from 2008's St. Patrick’s Day parade here in NYC. The parade is one of my favorites in the city. Both the New York Fire and Police Departments march in large numbers, and the spectators are often dressed as colorfully as the marchers.

Click the arrow in the window above to see the video
that I uploaded to YouTube this weekend...

As for today’s recipe…this is a wonderful muffin for a coffee break or breakfast. They're moist and tender, even a day or two after baking, and the ricotta cheese gives them substance without making them dry or heavy, so they're satisfying as well as delicious. (Try them warm, right out of the oven, split open and slathered with butter or cream cheese!)
If this muffin were a book, I would title it A Tale of Two Pistachios. The finely ground pistachios give the batter its pale green color. These finely ground nuts also distribute the pistachio flavor through the batter (like an almond or chestnut flour), so there’s no need to add any artificial pistachio flavoring. At the same time, the roughly chopped pistachios give your mouth a contrasting experience, providing bursts of crunchy nut flavor like a good pistachio ice cream. I hope you enjoy the recipe and (of course)...
Have a Happy St. Patrick's Day! ~ Cleo

Cleo Coyle’s Shamrock Pistachio Muffins
(with Ricotta)

To get this recipe in a PDF document that you can print or share with friends and family, click here.

Makes 12 muffins

10 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1-1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup milk (whole or reduced fat)1 cup ricotta (whole milk or part-skim)1/4 teaspoon salt
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour (very important - measure after sifting)1 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup whole pistachios (measure after removing shells)
1 teaspoon green food coloring (optional for shamrock shade)

Step 1 – Prepare pistachios:

Remove the shells by hand and measure out 1 cup of whole pistachios. (I use natural, dry roasted California pistachios, available in most grocery stores.) Roughly chop 1/2 cup of them (just place in plastic bag and bang away with a meat hammer or another fun smashing device). The final ½ cup of whole pistachios must be ground finely using a food processor or blade grinder. *See my tips at the end of this recipe for getting the best results on this.
Step 2 – Make batter: Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Blend in the eggs, vanilla, milk, ricotta, and salt. Add sifted flour, baking powder, and the finely ground and roughly chopped pistachios from Step 1. Blend all ingredients only enough to make a smooth batter.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Do not over-mix at this stage or you will develop gluten in your batter and toughen your muffins. Be especially careful with adding the food coloring. Resist the urge to continue adding food coloring and playing with the dough’s shade. Every time you work that batter, you are toughening it up. Add it once and let it go!
Optional: To make your muffins “wear the green” for St. Patrick’s Day, add 1 teaspoon of green food coloring when adding the final ingredients to your batter. This will turn the batter an emerald green shamrock shade.

(See photo below) The batter on the left was made a shamrock shade with green food coloring. The batter on the right is au naturel.

Step 3 – Prepare muffin pan and fill cups: Preheat oven to 375° F. Line muffin cups with paper holders. Fill each muffin cup to the very top with batter. This will give you a nice, rounded muffin top. You can bake the muffins naked or add a sprinkling of some roughly chopped pistachios.
Step 4 - Bake and cool: Bake the muffins about 25 minutes. Muffins are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (with no batter on it). Allow pan to cool for a few minutes and transfer the muffins to a cooling rack. Do not allow muffins to stay in the hot pan or the bottoms may steam and become tough.
(See photo below) I topped this batch of muffins with a sprinkling of roughly chopped pistachios, but these muffins are just as good with plain tops. If you want to try something deliciously decadent, finish the baked and cooled pistachio muffins with cream cheese frosting...oooohhhh, baby!

*TIPS ON GRINDING NUTS: When a recipe asks you to finely grind nuts, you are creating a “nut flour,” which can give a lovely flavor to any dough or batter. But be careful not to ruin that wonderful flavor by over grinding. Make sure to pulse the grinder or food processor, running it in short bursts. And be sure to stop the grinder as soon as the nuts are pulverized. Why do this? Grinding without pause will create a high RPM on the blades and the friction will overheat the nuts and burn them, imparting a scorched taste to your finished product. If you over-grind, you’re facing the same issue. So pulse, baby, pulse. Do not over grind, and...

Eat with joy!

~ Cleo Coyle
author of the Coffeehouse Mysteries

To get more of my recipes or to find out about the books in my nationally bestselling Coffeehouse Mystery series, visit me at my official website:

Comments welcome!
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