Spiced Pumpkin Baklava with Walnuts and Honey

Desserts

Spiced Pumpkin Baklava // www.acozykitchen.com

Hello my cute, internet friends! Yesterday I got an email from a friend I went to college with telling me that she has a friend whose son is being teased a lot at school for liking to bake. And I thought, how odd! Don’t kids love cupcakes and sweet stuff?! What kind of world do we live in?! Monsters, I tell you.

It made me think about my own childhood…I’m pretty sure a lot of us were teased at one time or another, some more than others. One of my best friends was openly gay from the time he was 12, and growing up in the South, he had no friends at all. I remember when we became friends, in our first year of college, he told me I was his first friend. He was 18. I remember crying when he told me that.

Being teased can make you feel so isolated, so super awful and it can make your world feel like a terrible place to live in. We have such thin skin at that age–and even now I can still be pretty sensitive. I imagine, as a parent it puts you in a peculiar position, too, because what do you do? You can’t yell at a ten year old for being mean to your kid, though I’m not sure I’d be above this seeing as I’m a super CRAZY dog mother at the dog park.

Spiced Pumpkin Baklava with Walnuts and Honey

My friend asked me to chat with him, to answer any questions he has. What do I say? My first thought is to tell him that none of this matters. I only talk to a handful of people from high school. Their opinions about the weird, angsty poetry I wrote in my room mean nothing now! But, when you’re in it, and it’s your world, the opinion of your peers mean everything.

It does get better. You grow up and go to college and find friends who have the same interests as you. The world is so large, everyone is bound to find their place. I know I did.

Now, baklava…

Spiced Pumpkin Baklava with Walnuts and Honey

Spiced Pumpkin Baklava with Walnuts and Honey

I love a good baklava. This is an autumn version, layered with beautifully spice-laden pumpkin. It’s thickened with an egg and sweetened with brown sugar and sprinkled with soft walnuts. I tried this with pumpkin seeds but found them too tough, too hard and sort of chewy. You want a soft nut. (

Walnuts work great. I imagine pecans would be cool too.

The honey topping is perfect. Spiced. And salty. Honey and salt are perfect together, remember?

Spiced Pumpkin Baklava with Walnuts and Honey

Spiced Pumpkin Baklava with Walnuts and Honey

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Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup white granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons light or dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
  • Pinch ground cloves
  • Pinch ground cardamom
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 package phyllo dough, about 23 sheets, thawed
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped

Topping:

  • 2/3 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch ground cinnamon

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Equipment: I used a 9 x 12-inch baking dish. You can also use a quarter baking sheet. I've even used a 9-inch round cake pan and it turned out beautifully. You may have to trim your phyllo dough to fit the sheets. I had to do this with my casserole dish, so just a heads up on that.
  • In a medium bowl, mix together the pumpkin puree, sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, cloves, cardamom and egg.
  • Next, grab a clean kitchen towel and dampen it, being sure to wring out any excess water. Place it over the thawed phyllo dough as you assemble the baklava. (Phyllo dough tends to dry out very quickly and assembling the baklava takes a bit of time. The damp kitchen towel will help with this.)
  • Brush the first sheet of phyllo dough with melted butter and transfer it, buttered-side down, into the baking dish. Repeat this process for the next 7 layers. Top the 8th layer with a few teaspoons of pumpkin mixture, spreading it out evenly. Sprinkle the pumpkin with a small handful of chopped walnuts. (Eight bottom layers of phyllo will give you a sturdy piece of baklava, versus a flimsy one.)
  • Butter the next 5 sheets, placing them buttered-side down into the baking dish. Top the 5th layer of phyllo dough with a few teaspoons of pumpkin mixture and walnuts. Repeat this for the next two layers. You should end up with four layers of baklava. Using a sharp knife, slice the baklava into 1-inch diamonds or squares. Transfer to the oven to bake for 15-20 minutes, until the top is lightly golden brown and crisp.
  • While the baklava is baking, let's make the topping! In a small skillet, mix together the honey, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt. Heat until the sugar is dissolved. When the baklava comes out of the oven, drizzle the honey mixture on top. Allow it to sit for 1-3 hours so it has a chance to marinate!
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41 Comments

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  • Reply Erin @ The Spiffy Cookie September 17, 2014 at 6:55 pm

    Any chance this can be made in advance? Say the day before, refrigerate and bake the second day?

  • Reply Ashley November 25, 2013 at 8:14 pm

    I am going to the grocery store tomorrow (well if I am not completly snowed in! it is sleeting out as I speak!) and getting the things I need to make this for Thanksgiving in a few days, this sounds like a perfect new addition to our menu! I always try out a new dessert each year last year was Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie it was great but I am not much on pies but I LOVE Baklavah so I am excited to try this one! I also wonder how Caramel would work if substituted for the Honey, I guess it would make the phyllio dough too soggy…I am a caramel lover is why I say this , but I cannot wait to try this out for my families Thanksgiving this year and I am also eyeing a few other pies and recipes on your page as some lat min changes to what I am cooking! THANKS SO MUCH FOR THE IDEAS!!!! Lot’s of Love from a snowy corner in North Carolina !!!!

    • Reply Adrianna Adarme November 25, 2013 at 8:19 pm

      Oooo! That sounds so cozy. (I have a deep love for North Carolina – I spent my college years there!) I personally think caramel will be too heavy with the phyllo dough and make it a bit too heavy. I think honey is definitely the way to go with this baklava. Hope you like it! Have a happy Thanksgiving!

  • Reply Nina October 11, 2013 at 6:16 am

    This had a delicious flavor but I think I did something wrong– mine came out kind of soggy, except for the top layer for a little while. I might have needed to bake it more. The spiced honey syrup is SO good on it.

  • Reply Sophia October 6, 2013 at 7:42 am

    I love baklava and think this is such a genius twist on it! And I totally agree, even if it sounds odd, sometimes only a soft nut will do! One way to soften pepitas might be to cook them in a sugar or honey syrup – you could cut down on the sugar in the pumpkin filling, cook the pepitas in the honey syrup, maybe thinned slightly with water, and then use them in the filling once they have softened a bit?

  • Reply Jillian@TheHumbleGourmet September 30, 2013 at 10:54 am

    This looks incredible. I’ve never been the biggest baklava fan (I had a really terrible batch at an impressionable age, which scared me away), but I could definitely get into this pumpkin and nut version. Yum!

  • Reply Kasha the FarmGirl September 28, 2013 at 1:48 am

    I think I will try this with roasted kabocha squash. It’s my go to for pumpkin dishes.

    Thanks for sharing this!

    Sadly, kids need to find the courage to be themselves and live true to who they are despite the obstacles 🙁

  • Reply Abby September 27, 2013 at 4:21 pm

    Brilliant! I’ve never thought of baklava with anything but the traditional nutty filling. Adding the pumpkin sounds delightful. We just ate dinner… sooooo now I’d love you to mail me a slice.

  • Reply Christina September 27, 2013 at 4:17 pm

    Holy Baklava! Such a good idea. I’m always trying to coming up with new ways for pumpkin. This, I would have never thought of! 🙂

    Come check out the Cannoli Sandwiches I made over at Because of Madalene!
    http://www.becauseofmadalene.com/2013/09/gluten-free-cannoli-sandwich.html

    xo,
    Christina

  • Reply Javi Trulove @ T3treats September 27, 2013 at 4:08 pm

    Well i have to say that i’m a Boy and since like 12 or before i loved to bake, however Kids are cruels and means since always, they just find a weakest kind on the bunch and treat them like a punch bag. I used to be bullied too, but i also find my strength and was the Chemistry who is so similar than the bakery dont you think? Suddenly all guys who bullied me wanna to have my help on their Schoolwork and i took some advantage of that.

    BTW the Baklavas looks ADORABLE!!!! i never try baklavas before but i must say that the flavour combo must be Delicious

    • Reply Adrianna Adarme September 30, 2013 at 8:49 am

      Javi, sending love your way! Thanks for being here.

  • Reply Emily@ TotesDelishy September 27, 2013 at 3:21 pm

    The idea of your buddy not having a friend until he was 18 years old breaks my heart. I hope the changes in legislation supporting gay marriage helps to change the stigma we have about homosexuality and strict ideas of gender norms.
    I also hope that as those kids grow up they realize that having friends with different interests and backgrounds is the best way to have new experiences and in your little friends case the best way to get delicious snacks!
    Thanks for sharing these stories, and for keeping it real.

    • Reply Adrianna Adarme September 30, 2013 at 8:52 am

      Agreed. I really do hope it helps, though I think it’s going to take a bit of time, unfortunately.

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