Double Old-Fashioned Paklava
By Scott Bradshaw
For a person who doesn’t drink, I sure do use a lot of alcohol in my recipes. I usually get my husband Mark to give things a taste for me. I created this paklava recipe with him in mind, using his signature drink—the old-fashioned. Just a reminder, traditional baklava uses honey, while Armenian paklava uses simple syrup as its sweetener. This recipe got rave reviews from Armenians and old-fashioned drinkers alike! I finished the paklava square off with a full pipette of the drink so people can create their own level of flavor.
1 cup bourbon
¾ cup granulated sugar
½ orange, zested using a vegetable peeler
4 maraschino cherries
4 cups mixed nuts, lightly toasted and chopped
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ cup granulated sugar (optional)
16 ounces phyllo dough, thawed by package instructions
1 pound unsalted butter, clarified
1 scant teaspoon simple syrup
2 dashes Angostura bitters, plus more to taste
1 half dollar–size slice orange peel, including pith
2 ounces good-quality rye or bourbon
1 maraschino cherry
Make the Double Old-Fashioned Simple Syrup
- Add the bourbon, granulated sugar, orange zest, and cherries into a saucepan and cook until the sugar is completely melted.
- Muddle the cherries in the pan and continue to cook until the syrup is slightly thickened. Remove from the heat and let cool. Remove the orange peel but leave the cherries. Break the cherries up into small pieces if any large chunks remain.
Tip: I strongly suggest using a very good–quality maraschino cherry such as Luxardo or Filthy Black Cherries. Avoid the dayglow red ones.
Create the Nut Filling
- In a food processor, pulse the nuts until you get the size chunk you want. Some people like them finely ground and some people like them chunkier. Pour them into a bowl and add the cinnamon and sugar, if using. Mix to combine.
Assemble the Paklava
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Brush your pan with clarified butter and set aside.
- Unroll the phyllo dough on a work surface, and with a very sharp knife, cut all sheets to the size of pan you will be using. Cover any offcuts of phyllo dough with a damp cloth and set aside.
- Working quickly, brush a sheet of phyllo with clarified butter and place it in the buttered pan. Repeat until you have 10 sheets of buttered phyllo layered in the pan.
- Sprinkle 1/3 of the nut mixture evenly over the phyllo. Working quickly, butter and layer 5 more sheets of phyllo on top of the nut layer.
- Add another 1/3 of the nut mixture. Repeat with another layer of 5 buttered phyllo sheets and add the last 1/3 of nut mixture. Butter and layer any remaining layers of phyllo you have.
- Take the reserved phyllo that was trimmed off and butter it and place on top of the top layer in as ruffled and decorative manner as possible. Using a sharp knife, cut the phyllo into diamond or square portion-size pieces. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes, or until nicely browned. Remove from the oven and let cool.
- Soak with cooled simple syrup and let it sit overnight, covered.
Pro tip: Fill an electric butter sprayer to quickly and evenly spray your clarified butter onto the phyllo. Butter sprayers can be found online.
Mix the Old-Fashioned
- In a glass, combine the simple syrup and bitters. Fill the glass halfway with ice, then stir about a dozen times. Add enough ice to fill the glass.
- Squeeze the orange peel over the glass to extract the oils, add the peel to the glass, and then add the whiskey. Stir just until drink is cold and the alcoholic bite has softened, about a dozen times. Garnish with a cherry.
- When ready to serve the paklava, fill pipettes with the drink and stick them into the paklava slices.
Want more paklava flavors? Check out the November/December 2021 issue of ACD!