Ever since I made baklava for the first time in May, the leftover pieces have been haunting me. I stashed them in the freezer outside, tucked away in the garage, neighboring the trashcans. It should deter me. It doesn’t.
At least once a day, I think about those buttery, flakey layers, sandwiching a gooey, chewy, sweet nut and fruit filling. I fantasize about that sugary soaked bottom layer. A lot.
I shouldn’t have made it. I would have kept about my business, going through life having only tasted that freezer stuff, wondering what the heck all the fuss was about. Once you taste the real stuff, the homemade stuff with ALL THAT BUTTER, there’s no going back. Most of your waking thoughts are filled with baklava.
The pain. The ache.
The compromise, and I should wash my mouth out with soap for even uttering that word, is to find a way to use the flavors, perhaps even some of the textures, and make something more reasonable, redeeming, and healthy, even. Where’s that soap?
These are reminiscent of a Larabar, a gooey, chewy fruit and nut bar filled with pistachios, dates, apricots, lemon zest, cardamon and rosewater. It mimics that heavenly baklava filling but becomes a treat you won’t feel guilty about having as a quick breakfast stand-in or snack. It even packs well in lunch boxes.
There’s no butter or flaky filo layers in these, which may seem like sacrilege that I even call these treats baklava bars, but it keeps me from venturing out into the garage and standing in front of the opened freezer once a day, whispering to those stray plastic-wrapped pieces of the real stuff. And it keeps my husband from wondering why the gas and electric bill is so damned high.
So, in short, these are the win-win.
Baklava Fruit and Nut Bars
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons shelled pistachios, unsalted (roasted or raw)
1 cup dried apricots, roughly chopped
1/2 cup dates, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 teaspoons rosewater
1/4 teaspoon cardamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
Place all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until the mixture is ground and sticking together. Press the mixture into an 8 x 8 pan lined with foil or plastic wrap. Chill at least 1 hour to set.
When ready to serve, pull the mixture out of the pan using the foil/plastic wrap handles. Cut into desired shapes and serve or store in the refrigerator.
Yields 9 – 12 barsPin It