Greek Easter Favorite: Chocolate Walnut Baklava

Spring is in the air and Easter is right around the corner. Growing up, I celebrated Greek Easter, one of the biggest holidays of the year! We gathered as a family, dyed the traditional red Easter eggs, and of course there was no shortage of delicious food during our celebrations. I’d like to share one of my favorites – Chocolate Walnut Baklava!

This version is a bit different than a traditional baklava. I’ve added chocolate and chosen orange over lemon to better compliment the flavors. I assure you, this sweet and sticky treat is only improved with the chocolate! As I prepare for my upcoming Easter cooking classes, and celebrations at home, I continue to trust the fine selection of ingredients at Healthy Living. You’ll find the already prepared, frozen phyllo dough to be both delicious and easy to work with, and I implore you to choose their whole spices and wonderful selection of rich honey from our region. From your Chef friend in Vermont, Happy Easter, Happy Passover, Happy Spring!

Chocolate Walnut Baklava

24 servings

1 pound walnuts
12 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon freshly ground cinnamon
1 pound phyllo dough
Two sticks of melted butter or 3/4 cup olive oil
1 ½ cups honey
Zest of one orange
¼ cup water or orange juice
24 whole cloves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Add the nuts, chocolate, and cinnamon to the food processor and pulse until the chocolate and nuts are finely chopped and the same size.

Unwrap the phyllo and cut in half. Cover with a slightly damp towel. Generously butter a 9-by-13-inch metal baking pan. Butter and stack 8 sheets of phyllo. Ease the stack into the pan. Sprinkle about 2 cups of the filling over the phyllo. Butter and stack 4 more phyllo sheets and place over the filling. Sprinkle on another 2 cups of the filling. Top with 4 more buttered phyllo sheets and 2 cups of filling. Butter and stack 8 more phyllo sheets and place over the filling. Brush top layer of phyllo generously with butter. Using a ruler and a sharp knife, cut the baklava (through the top and bottom) into twelve 3-inch squares. Cut each square in half to make triangles. Pierce a clove into each piece.

Bake the baklava for 25 minutes on center rack of the oven. Then lower the oven temperature to 300 degrees F and bake for 35 to 45 minutes longer, until golden and cooked through.

While the baklava is baking add honey, orange zest, and water into a small saucepan. Heat on low for 2 minutes only (Heating honey over 110 degrees will cause the beneficial nutrients to disappear). Stir the honey mixture until well mixed. Remove baklava from oven. Immediately ladle the honey syrup over the hot baklava and let stand until completely cool, at least 4 hours and preferably overnight.

By Healthy Living Taste Maker Courtney Contos, of Chef Contos Kitchen and Store
65 Falls Rd., Shelburne, VT 05482
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