February 8, 2011

Bacon Baklava

I know I've recently bestowed the incredibly delicious bacon jam upon you all, and you probably thought that was quite enough bacon debauchery to last me a while, but it was most certainly not.  In the same vein as the bacon-pecan cookies, I've yet again managed to take an ordinary sweet and bacon it up right into the ranks of amazing.

But before we get into that, I have a little story for you. It's the story of a Boog, her dog bed, and a knife.

DISCLAIMER: No dogs were harmed in the preparation of this post.  
Something odd has been happening in our house lately.  I have come home now a total of 4 times to discover that the dogs are curled up with a sharp butcher knife.  They are not bloody, and are not engaged in an act of chewing on it, but are simply sleeping on their bed or on the couch with the knife nearby.  The first time it happened, I was quite alarmed.  I couldn't figure out why on earth Boog would have pulled a knife down from the counter (where it was drying after being cleaned). She also had a wooden spoon, which had been appropriately gnawed on and splintered, but since this knife is one solid piece of stainless steel, it wouldn't even have been fun to chew on.  Because she has pulled down this same knife two more times and another knife once, I know there's some sort of appeal.  They're always clean, so it can't be that she thinks she'll get a tasty nibble.  (Needless to say, I've learned that the knives need to be wiped dry and put in drawers before I leave the Boog alone in their proximity- so no need to call the SPCA on me yet.) After a bit of noodling on the subject, I have figured out why she wants knives.  
Notice the indents from the two dogs' bodies, surrounding the knife.
See, whenever Ellie has a toy she's chewing on or playing with, Freya will do whatever she has to to steal it away.  She employs highly sophisticated diversion tactics and emotional manipulation to make Ellie drop her toy so that Freya can snatch it up.  (This is frequently followed by a proper pout on Ellie's part, which prompts the gloating phase for Freya, during which she neither plays with the toy nor seems to care that she has it- her new plaything being Her Superiority At Obtaining Toys.)  As for the knives, Freya must think they're the toys that E and I love, and when we're not around, she finally has a chance to play with them!  Finding the whole "playing with" part to be difficult, she leaves the knife untouched on her bed... for me to come home to and freak out about.  It's a marvelous trick, really.  And I can just picture her sitting there, knife in paw, trying to gloat about "taking our toy" while Ellie smugly enjoys a real toy.  

Well, with that little mystery solved, let's move on to something else that, like discovering your dog's penchant for murder weapons, is really worth freaking out about: Bacon Baklava.  I'm actually not a fan of traditional baklava.  I don't like honey, or walnuts, and it's always way too sweet.  But this baklava is addicting.  It's just sweet enough and just bacon-y enough.  I have had this idea simmering in my head for years now, and I don't know why it took me so long to make it.  I can't wait to make it again- and you shouldn't wait either. Don't get scared by the phyllo, it's not that bad.  Do get motivated by the idea of chewy, crunchy, bacon- and maple-flavored bites that are the perfect breakfast, snack, or dessert.  And the prospect that if you bring this to the next party you attend, you will easily become the popular person in the room. 
Bacon Baklava
adapted from Closet Cooking's baklava recipe 
1.5 cups mixed pecans and walnuts (or any nuts you have on hand)
1 cup crumbled bacon (I think I used about a pound of bacon)
1/3 cup sugar
3/4 tbsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp garam masala
about 30 sheets of phyllo (about 1/2 of what comes in a box)
1 stick butter, melted
2/3 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
cinnamon stick
lemon and orange peel
3/4 cup maple syrup

Preheat oven to 350F.  Pulse the nuts, bacon, sugar, cinnamon, and garam masala in a food processor.  Brush an 8x8 or 9x9 pan with butter and lay down one sheet of phyllo.  Brush that sheet with phyllo and lay down another one.  Repeat until you have 8 sheets, then brush the top of the last sheet with butter.  Spread 1/3 of the filling over it, and lay down one sheet of phyllo.  Brush it with butter, then add a second sheet.  Brush with butter, then spread another 1/3 of the filling down.  Add a sheet of phyllo, brush with butter, add a second sheet, brush with butter.  Spread the final 1/3 of the filling, then top with 8 sheets of phyllo, buttering in between.  Cut into squares (using a very sharp knife- ask Boog for recommendations).  Bake for 20-30 minutes, until golden brown. 

While it's baking, make the syrup.  Combine water and sugar over high heat until dissolved, then add a cinnamon stick and a couple pieces of lemon and orange peel.   Boil for about 10 minutes, then turn down the heat and add the maple syrup.  Simmer for another couple of minutes.

When the baklava comes out of the oven, pour the syrup over the pan.  Let it soak up and cool for at least 1 hour. 

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