I Couldn’t Resist Adding My Homemade Ricotta to the Filling.
I used the end of my current batch of my homemade ricotta to make baklava. I also had some leftover toasted pistachio oil that I used for my Roasted Carrots with Sour Cherry Yogurt and Toasted Pistachio Oil and decided to use it here, too. But it isn’t absolutely necessary. This would still be delicious if you simply scattered finely chopped pistachios over the bottom layer of pastry and then added the layer of ricotta.
I don’t have a lot of experience making baklava, but I do know what I love about it. And what I don’t. I love all those crisp buttery layers of phyllo, but I don’t love it when it’s swimming in syrup, particularly when the syrup is made with honey. I find that to be cloyingly sweet. I’m also not fond of it when it only consists of nuts and pastry. I think it needs a note of brightness. And I felt some creaminess would be very welcome. So, I went with what I love and came up with this.
I used almost an entire box of phyllo – 540 grams. I only had a couple sheets left over. My baking tray is 11” x 15” x 1”. In order to completely cover the bottom of the tray I had to use 4 sheets of phyllo, staggering them around the tray as I went. So, I ended up using 16 sheets for the entire bottom layer and 16 sheets for the top layer. As I mentioned, I had some leftover toasted pistachio oil. I separated the oil from the solids and used the oil to brush on some of the bottom layers of pastry and then scattered the solids on the pastry before spreading on the ricotta. You could simply use butter instead of the oil and still have a great result. As you can see here, the bottom layers have a darker color because of the dark color of the pistachio oil.
I added the zest of two Meyer lemons to the ricotta and used the juice, along with some dried lavender in the syrup. This gave the finished baklava a lovely floral and bright finish. Some additional chopped pistachios and a few dried lavender buds were all that was needed to top it off. I loved how the ricotta filling more or less melted into the layer of nuts, creating a creamy, but slightly chewy filling. This is a baklava I will make again and again. I don’t think I could have been more happy with the results.