Ζητω Η Ελλαδα!!! Χρονια πολλα Ελλαδα! Long live Greece and Happy Greek Independence Day to all the Greeks around the world! Today is a national holiday in Greece as it marks the start of the Greek war for Independence (March 25, 1821) from the Ottoman Empire (Turks). As a tribute to this important day in Greek history it is only natural I had to make one of if not the most famous Greek dessert around the world…baklava.
As with everything I bake I try to put my own creative spin on it and these mini baklava bites are no exception. I know my version of baklava will probably drive all the yiayia’s (Greek for grandmother) crazy because it does not resemble anything to the traditional baklava they are used to making. However, I feel that given a taste of these bites even my harshest critics would find it hard to resist admitting how great these came out.
Traditional baklava is a blend of toasted nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios, or walnuts depending on the baker) layered between buttery sheets of fillo then soaked in honey syrup. For my version, I decided to add a hint of chocolate because who doesn’t love chocolate. In order to incorporate the traditional flavor provided by ground hazelnuts, I used some leftover Greek Merenda spread, which is the Greek equivalent of Nutella, to provide a rich hazelnut chocolate flavor.
For such a small dessert these bites do not lack any of the flavor or richness found in traditional recipes. They are great to serve at large gatherings because one recipe makes 30 and their bite size cuts down on the messiness of cutting into and eating the original. I recommend trying this modern version of the classic Greek dessert! Kali Orexi!
Chocolate Baklava Bites
- ¾ cup Walnuts
- ¾ cup Almonds
- ½ cup Honey (preferably Greek)
- ¼ cup Water
- 1 Cinnamon Stick
- 3 tbsp. Sugar
- 2 tbsp. Unsalted Butter; melted
- 1 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
- ¼ tsp. Vanilla Extract
- 1/8 tsp. Salt
- ¼ cup Hazlenut-Chocolate Spread (such as Merenda or Nutella)
- 2 boxes Mini Fillo Shells; 15 shells each
- Preheat oven to 350°. Arrange walnuts & almonds on a baking sheet and toast in the oven until golden & fragrant, about 5 to 8 minutes. Allow nuts to cool slightly.
- Meanwhile, add the honey, water, and cinnamon stick to a small saucepan set over medium heat. Stir until honey dissolves. Continue to cook, without stirring, until a candy thermometer reaches 230°, approximately 10 minutes. Remove from heat and keep warm. Discard cinnamon stick.
- Add the slightly cooled nuts to the bowl of a food processor along with the sugar, butter, cinnamon, vanilla, and salt. Pulse to combine.
- Place hazelnut-chocolate spread in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high for 30 seconds or until melted. Place mini fillo shells into wells of 2 mini cupcake tins. Working quickly place 1 tsp. of melted hazelnut spread into the bottom of each fillo shell. Next, top each fillo shell with 1 tsp. of the nut mixture. Bake in oven until filling is hot and fillo is golden, about 10 minutes.
- Pour 1 tsp. of honey syrup into each fillo cup while warm. Allow syrup to soak in and then add another 1 tsp. to each cup. Refrigerate at least 5 hours but preferably overnight for flavors to develop.
PHOTOGRAPHY & STAGING: PETER MENDOROS
ALL REMAINING CONTENT © HONEYBEES PATISSERIE 2017
Now that the holidays are approaching the shopping fever is beginning. What also begins is the hunt for the perfect Holiday Cookies to serve at both Thanksgiving and Christmas. Now I am a bit of a conservative traditionalist and Thanksgiving always has to have that Pumpkin or Pecan Pie and Christmas always must have its Sugar Cookies cut into fun holiday shapes but I also like to always add one new element to the table. A little bit of a mix between old traditional favorites you look forward to every year and a new and exciting thing to try to spice up the look of the table and cause some fun discussions. So for the next few weeks I will be testing some cookies. I’ll be sure to throw in some other items, like a cake I have in find, however it will still be inspired by a famous Christmas cookie 😉
So I introduce to you the first cookie on the hunt for 2012’s Most Interesting Holiday Cookies… The Hazelnut Kahlua Chew. This cookie is loaded with all the goodies…. Nutella, Alcohol, Sugar. What better way to satisfy all your holiday cravings in one bite size on the go cookie. And not to mention Nutella is trending at the moment and with good reason. It’s rich blend of hazelnut and chocolate makes it a snap to add both amazingly compatible flavors to just about anything you can think of. Top that trendy pairing off with a dash of coffee flavored liquor that never goes out of style and you got yourself the perfect cookie addition that makes you psychologically believe you’re boozing up, a popular way to pass the stressful holiday season and caffeinating yourself for the long days ahead without having to stop at McD’s for a cup of Joe. This bite size confection is incredibly delicious, spectacularly simple, and way too easy to snatch along for the ride throughout all your holiday travels.
A few notes before I send you off to baking. Although I love the flavor the Kahlua adds to the cookies and wouldn’t recommend deleting its presence from the formula, I do understand people have their own preferences regarding alcohol. Either they do not like alcohol or do not like the thought of it in a cookie that kids may eat, despite the fact that all alcohol is burned off in baking. With those individuals in mind, you can substitute 1 tsp. of Instant Espresso powder for the Kahlua. That way, you still retain the coffee flavor and the benefits coffee flavors have on blooming and defining the flavors of chocolate already present. For those that may not be familiar with the Nutella craze, Nutella is a chocolate-hazelnut spread with a texture much like that of peanut butter. It is conveniently sold in most supermarkets in the peanut butter aisle. You will need one jar for this formula. The formula makes 3 ½ dozen cookies.
Hazelnut Kahlua Chews
- 3 cups All-Purpose Flour
- 2 tsp. Baking Powder
- ½ tsp. Salt
- 1 ¼ cups Nutella Spread
- 4 tbsp. Unsalted Butter, softened
- 1 1/3 cups Sugar
- 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
- 1 tsp. Kahlua or Coffee flavored liquor
- 2 Eggs
- 1/3 cup Milk
- 1 ½ cups Hazelnuts, toasted & chopped fine
- 1 cup Confectioners’ Sugar
- Adjust oven racks to the upper-middle and lower-middle positions. Heat oven to 375°. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl. Using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the Nutella, butter, and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the vanilla, Kahlua, and eggs and mix until incorporated. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture and milk, mixing until just combined. Fold in ½ cup hazelnuts and refrigerate the dough until firm, about 1 hour.
- Place the remaining hazelnuts in a bowl and the confectioners’ sugar in another bowl. Once dough has chilled, remove from the refrigerator and roll the dough into 1 inch balls. Working with one ball at a time, roll in the hazelnuts and then in the confectioners’ sugar. Place the balls 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake until the cookies are set and a little cracked on the surface, about 8 minutes, making sure to rotate the pans halfway through the cooking time. Cool 5 minutes on the warm pans and then transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining dough.
SPECIAL THANKS TO:
PETER MENDOROS – PHOTOGRAPHY
RECIPE ADAPTED FROM JENNIFER PARKS
ALL REMAINING CONTENT © HONEYBEE’S PATISSERIE 2012