Pistachio Baklava

The first time I had Baklava was at a little Moroccan restaurant and I was blown away at the unique and diverse blend of tastes and textures that little honey soaked square held! Crisp and chewy, soft, yet crunchy, sweet honey, and salty nuts... every bite was pure heaven! The restaurant sold it by 1 inch squares for $3 a piece and we bought it several times, but in the interest of our budget I decided to try to make it at home. Rather than using a pastry brush to coat each layer with melted butter, I filled my Pampered Chef spray bottle with the butter and just sprayed it on! It worked like a charm and only took a second per layer! Who knew that making baklava at home was was this simple! It didn't take too long, and cost under $10 to make 42 delicious squares! I know what my family will be getting this year for Christmas! :)

 Pistachio Baklava
Makes about 42 squares

1 (16 ounce) package phyllo dough
1 pound chopped pistachios (shelled)
1 cup butter
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 cups water
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup honey 
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F Butter the bottoms and sides of a 9x13 inch pan.
2. Chop nuts and toss with cinnamon. Set aside.
3. Unroll phyllo dough. Cut whole stack in half to fit pan and cover with a dampened cloth to keep from drying out as you work.

4. Place two sheets of dough in pan, butter thoroughly. Repeat until you have 8 sheets layered, stopping to butter after every two sheets.
5. Sprinkle 2 - 3 tablespoons of nut mixture on top. Top with two to four more sheets of dough, then butter, then nuts, layering as you go. The top layer should be about 6 - 8 sheets deep of just dough and butter. Garnish with a small sprinkle of nuts on top for decoration.
6. Using a sharp knife, cut into diamond or square shapes almost all the way to the bottom of the pan. Then bake for about 50 minutes until baklava is golden and crisp.
7. Make the honey sauce while baklava is baking. Boil sugar and water until sugar is melted, then add vanilla and honey. Simmer for about 20 minutes and then cool the syrup until baklava is done baking.
8. Remove baklava from oven and immediately spoon sauce over it evenly. Let cool and serve in cupcake papers!
(This freezes well and leftovers should be left uncovered on the counter until eaten, it gets soggy if it is wrapped up too tightly.)

(Adapted from Allrecipes.com)

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