She’s gotten to me. Martha and her 1,000 Days of Halloween. First, with the severed finger invitations. Then the paper mice and the jack-o’-lanterns and the wreath covered in glittery bats. Yes, she wore me down, like water over a rock. But I don’t own a glue gun, and if I served a petit four ghost or cider with a bobbing apple head to Jeff, he’d have me committed. So, I started looking for a more adult Halloween treat.
Because people who survive puberty deserve something better than a pack of Skittles®. More refined than anything with a face drawn on it. They deserve Orange Chocolate Baklava.
Imagine your favorite baklava components – phyllo dough, nuts and honey – combined with bittersweet chocolate and infused with orange syrup. So. Much. Flavor. The syrup soaks into the baklava as it cools, so before you take that first bite, tuck a napkin or a plate under your chin. Sticky-sweet. Crunchy. Chewy. Chocolatey. And it lasts FIVE DAYS. Or so I’m told.
Orange Chocolate Baklava
Adapted from John Scharffenger and Robert Steinberg’s “Essence of Chocolate”
- 1 small orange
- 3/4 cup water
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons honey
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 cup lightly toasted, unblanched whole almonds (about 5 ounces)
- 1 cup lightly toasted walnuts (about 4 ounces)
- 6 ounces 70% bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 4 ounces pitted dates (about 6 to 8), coarsely chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3/ 4 cup clarified butter, melted
- 9 sheets phyllo dough (about half of a 1-pound box), thawed
- For the Syrup: Using a vegetable peeler, remove the zest from the orange in strips. Juice the orange. In a medium saucepan, combine the zest, 3 tablespoons of the juice, the water, honey, both sugars and the cinnamon stick, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Reduce the heat, and simmer the syrup for 45 minutes. Skim any foam that rises to the surface. Remove the pan from the heat, and discard the zest and cinnamon stick.
- For the Filling: In a food processor, pulse the almonds and walnuts until sandy. Add the chocolate, and pulse until finely chopped. Add the dates, and pulse until the dates and chocolate are about the same size. Place in a small bowl, toss with the salt and cinnamon, and set aside.
- Position a rack in the middle of the oven, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Near your work surface, set out the nut mixture, melted butter, a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking pan, and a pastry brush. Unroll the sheets of phyllo, and cover with a slightly damp towel to keep the layers from cracking.
- Place 1 sheet of phyllo, with a long side facing you, on the work surface. Brush with a light coating of butter, and sprinkle the entire surface with a heaping 1/3 cup of the nut mixture. Repeat two more times to form three layers of phyllo, butter, and nuts. Carefully fold up the bottom edge and then roll up into a log. Trim the rough edges, cut the log in half, and place the two halves side by side at one end of the pan.
- Repeat with the remaining sheets and filling, making 2 more logs. Place these logs side by side across the pan, at a right angle to the first two logs. With a sharp paring knife, score the logs at 2-inch intervals. Bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack. Remove any excess butter, and discard.
- Reheat the syrup over medium heat. As soon as the logs are cool enough to handle, cut through the scored lines, then pour the warm syrup over the baklava. Spoon the syrup that settles on the bottom of the pan onto the baklava until almost all of the syrup has soaked in. Let cool. Cover with plastic wrap or store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.