Spiced Wine Baklava Pie
If your grandmother makes baklava you probably don't want to read this recipe. Just kidding but, this is not traditional baklava. First, there are pecans not walnuts. Then, lots of orange zest and to top it all off a spiced wine syrup (with not that much honey). But what this baklava lacks in traditional flavors it makes up for in presentation and deliciousness.
Pecans, orange zest, and sugar are layered between crispy phyllo layers all soaked in a spiced wine syrup. The wine syrup adds a great flavor and color to the baklava and letting the whole spices and orange peel steep in the wine makes for a subtle warmth. Use a red wine that you like to drink for the syrup. Try to use something on the dryer side rather than a sweeter red. I used a Malbec for my syrup but a Cabernet Sauvignon would work great as well.
This Baklava is so sweet and decadent you only need a small slice. I like to top it off with some fresh whipped cream, a little more orange zest and fresh nutmeg. You can make the pie ahead of time (up to 3 days) and let the syrup continue to infuse in the phyllo layers. Just keep it covered on the counter at room temp. You can also make the syrup ahead of time as well.
Spiced Wine Baklava Pie
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar; divided
2 tablespoons wildflower honey
1 cup red wine
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise pod
4 whole cloves
1 cardamom pod
the peel of 1 orange
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups pecan halves
1 teaspoon orange zest
20 sheets phyllo pastry sheets (1/2 a package)
3/4 cups unsalted butter (1 and 1/2 sticks); melted
*Whipped cream, fresh nutmeg, and more orange zest for garnish
In a small sauce pan over medium high heat, combine 1 cup sugar, honey, wine, cinnamon stick, star anise, cloves, cardamom, and orange peel. Bring to a boil and then reduce and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat to cool while you prepare the phyllo.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Add pecans, remaining 1/2 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon of orange zest to a small food processor. Process until the nuts are chopped finely and set aside.
Stack the phyllo sheets together and using the bottom of a 9 inch springform pan as a guide cut out circles with a sharp knife leaving as much space for additional half circles as possible. Once you have cut the circles, cut half circles in the remaining dough sheets to be layered together. You should have 20 whole circles and 20 half circles to make a total of 30 layers. Make sure to keep you phyllo covered with a damp kitchen towel after you make your cuts to keep it from drying out.
Butter the bottom of the springform pan, add one phyllo circle, butter add a second circle, butter add a third circle. butter add two half circles (to make the 4th whole) and butter again place the fifth phyllo circle in the pan and topped with a fifth of your pecan filling. Keeping the phyllo covered while you work. Repeat the process 4 more times. Top with the remain circles and brush the top with the remaining butter. Slicing only through the top layers cut the desired design into the pie. I used a star design but anything goes here really.
Place your prepared pie on a lipped baking sheet (some of that butter will find its way out of the pan) in the oven for 35-40 minute until golden brown. Remove from oven and spoon over syrup in 3 additions. Let cool before slicing. I didn't have the patiences to do that so you can see in the photos some syrup did not soak into my pie before I sliced it. It still tastes delicious but for a little less mess wait for it to completely cool.
Slice in small slices and topped with fresh whipped cream, a little more orange zest and a bit of fresh nutmeg.