This week I’ve been trying to be super frugal and use up excess ingredients left over from previous baking adventures. I shared my chocolate orange cupcakes to help you use up orange rind left over from the orange and kidney bean salad, I made the bejewelled orange syrup cake after buying too much trail mix, and now I’m combining both to bring you baby baklava gems.
These little gems are perfect for last-minute entertaining. You can make, cook and serve them in about half an hour AND they’re delicious. I like making them in tiny muffin tins because they’re just big enough for one bite, but they can be made in bigger muffin tins as well. They’re a bit of a twist on the normal tray style baklava too.
Mine isn’t a traditional baklava because my trail mix had chocolate and cranberries in it as well as nuts. Experiment – keep the quantities the same, but substitute in different nuts or dried fruits!
Just to add to the hard sell I’m doing, they’re also vegan-friendly! Until about six months ago I didn’t realise that some vegans don’t eat honey (go on, call me ignorant), so I’ve come up with an alternative to the usually honey-laden syrup.
- Juice of one orange
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 4 chunky strips of orange rind
- 4 cloves
Put your trail mix, walnuts and water into a food processor and blitz them on a high speed for about four minutes until they’re chopped. I like my baklava filling a little bit coarse, but if you want it a finer, keep them in for longer. I add the teaspoon of water because it ensures the nuts don’t fly around the food processor as much. Also, when you’re cooking the baklava, the water keeps your mix from drying out too much. Set your mixture to one side.
Lay out your first sheet of filo pastry on a clean surface and spray it lightly with oil. Place the second sheet of pastry over the oiled one and spray it with oil too. Repeat until you’ve used all six sheets of pastry.
Cut your pastry strips to size, pushing the filo squares into the cups as you go along. Try to push them down into the cup so that you get four points rising from the cup and decent cavity to fill with your nut mixture.
Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until the pastry is crisp.
While the pastry is cooking, juice one orange and put it in a pan with the water and sugar over a medium heat. Make sure you wash your orange skin before cutting the strips of rind, some fruits are sprayed with various chemicals and this can make them give off a bitter taste when boiled. Add in your washed rind and the cloves, stirring them in until the sugar is dissolved.
The mixture of the cloves and orange is delightful, your kitchen will smell delicious! Turn up the heat and bring it rapidly to a boil so that it starts to thicken. Stir the syrup constantly so that it doesn’t burn.
Whip the syrup off the heat, remove the rind and cloves and set it aside to cool for five minutes. In this time, scoop your trail mix into the awaiting filo cups. Now spoon the warm syrup over the baklava gems. If you’ve got the time and patience, you can also brush the edges of the filo with extra syrup.
They’ll be sticky and glossy and fragrant – I cannot fault these beauties.