Baklava Bars with Pistachio and Orange Blossom

After watching the Great British Baking Show episode where contestants had to make phyllo from scratch, I promised myself that I would never, under any circumstances, make phyllo dough. However, it’s easy to buy it premade in the freezer section of most grocery stores – hallelujah. Get yourself a box of frozen phyllo, thaw it to room temperature, and get baking these baklava bars!

Baklava Bars vs. Traditional Baklava

Baklava is made with different flavors, sugars, and nuts depending on the country of origin. Greek baklava is often made with walnuts, while Turkish baklava uses pistachios, walnuts, and almonds. Middle Eastern baklava typically includes orange blossom water and rosewater, and may include spices like cardamom. These baklava bars take flavors from traditional Middle Eastern baklava styles, but the format is different than the standard nut-phyllo-nut-phyllo layering. First, these bars have a base layer of phyllo instead of the layering phyllo with ground nuts and sugars. Next, we’ll top the phyllo layer with a layer of pistachio frangipane and then a layer of thick, chewy, nutty caramel on top of that.

I actually have very fond memories of making baklava as a preteen. My next door neighbor was Iranian and wanted to pass on his family recipe for baklava. His son had no interest in baking, but I was just discovering that the kitchen was my happiest place and was thrilled to learn his family’s recipe. The recipe he taught me was Persian-style, made with walnuts and sugar syrup. Layering the phyllo with melted butter was such a lovely, meditative process. I love that this recipe for baklava bars starts with the same step!

A Note on Orange Blossom Water

The caramel layer in these baklava bars is flavored with orange blossom water, which makes it extra-special. If you’ve never worked with orange blossom water, I recommend it a lot. Orange blossom water is made by boiling flowers from bitter orange trees in water, and the final product is incredibly light and floral, but somehow also citrusy and juicy. You only need a tiny bit, but after you try it once, you’ll find yourself adding it all kinds of desserts. I especially love it in creamy things like ice cream and mousses! I keep a bottle of Cortas Orange Blossom Water in my pantry at all times – a bottle will last you 2 lifetimes but it’s worth the storage space.

a stack of baklava bars
baklava bars, top view
baklava bars, stacked

The inspiration

  • The Great British Baking Show
  • These bars by Teresa Floyd of Now Forager

The Quick Look

ComponentsSource/Adapted From
1Phyllo CrustLanibakes
2Pistachio FrangipaneLanibakes
3Honey Nut CaramelNow Forager

Baklava Bars

These baklava bars are a dream, made with crisp, buttery phyllo crust layered with chewy, nutty caramel flavored with orange blossom and rose.
Servings 16 bars

Ingredients

Phyllo Crust

  • 1 roll premade phyllo dough thawed to room temperature
  • 200 grams browned butter warm and still liquid (you could also use regular melted butter, but the flavor of brown butter can’t be beat! It also keeps things extra crisp since all of the water in butter has been cooked off in the browning process)

Pistachio Frangipane

  • 38 grams butter softened
  • 38 grams sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 38 grams pistachios toasted and ground to a flour (I use a coffee grinder for this!)

Honey Nut Caramel

  • 170 grams unsalted butter
  • 40 grams sugar
  • 227 grams brown sugar
  • 85 grams honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 45 grams heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange blossom water
  • 100 grams pistachios raw
  • 75 grams walnuts raw
  • 200 grams sliced almonds raw
  • 1 tablespoon rose petals

Instructions

Phyllo Crust

  • Line the bottom and sides of a 9×9 pan with parchment paper. I recommend making a parchment sling. Don’t skip this step or you’ll never be able to get the bars out of the pan!
  • Brush the bottom and sides of the pan with brown butter.
  • Lay down one sheet of phyllo in the pan, pressing it into the bottom and up the sides of the pan so that it sticks in the butter. The phyllo sheet will only be wide enough to extend up the pan on 2 sides.
  • Brush the phyllo sheet with brown butter, making sure to brush up the sides.
  • Top with another sheet of phyllo, rotating it 90 degrees from the first sheet so that it goes up the other 2 sides of the pan.
  • Brush the second sheet with brown butter, brushing up the sides.
  • Repeat with the remaining phyllo dough, brushing each sheet with butter and rotating each sheet 90 degrees so that all 4 sides of the pan get equal coverage.

Pistachio Frangipane

  • In a small bowl, combine 38 grams of butter and 38 grams of sugar with a spatula until smooth and creamy.
  • Add 2 egg yolks and stir until smooth. Add 38 grams of pistachio flour and mix until well combined.
  • Add all the frangipane to the phyllo crust and spread into a flat layer using an offset spatula or the back of a spoon.
  • Set aside while you make the caramel

Honey Nut Caramel

  • Preheat your oven to 350F
  • Melt 170 grams of butter over low heat.
  • Add 40 grams of sugar, 227 grams brown sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 85 grams of honey. Whisk to combine.
  • Increase the heat to medium and bring mixture to a boil, whisking constantly.
  • Heat the caramel until it reaches 240F on a candy thermometer.
  • Immediately remove from heat and whisk in 45 grams of heavy cream and 1/2 teaspoon orange blossom water.
  • Add 100 grams of pistachios, 75 grams walnuts, 200 grams sliced almonds and 1 tablespoon dried rose petals to the caramel and stir with a spatula until the nuts are completely coated in caramel.
  • Pour caramel on top of frangipane layer in phyllo crust.
  • Bake the baklava bars for 27 minutes at 350F. The caramel will look bubbly and not completely set.
  • Remove from oven and let cool at room temperature for 30 minutes. Then refrigerate for at least 4 hours until fully cool.
  • Once cool, use the parchment paper to slide the sheet of bars out of the pan and onto a cutting board. Using a sharp knife, slice the bars into 16 squares.

Notes

These bars are best eaten cold! These will keep in the refrigerator, well sealed, for 2 weeks.
baklava bars



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