A Family Favorite: Honey and Maple Sugar Baklava

My grown-up great-nephew and niece, Eli and Sophie, each wrote me separately recently asking for the honey-sweetened baklava recipe that we have used for the many Thanksgivings they came and visited with their parents when they were younger. This was a fun holiday cooking project that the three of us enjoyed. I am delighted to know they still want to make this dessert for their own Thanksgiving dinners.

I have included here a Martha Stewart recipe along with the ways that I have adapted it. Making homemade baklava is not nearly as hard as it may seem and the results are delicious.

Baklava with Lemon-Honey Syrup


  • 1 cup sugar (I use maple sugar)
  • 1/2 cup honey, preferably clover
  • 2 peeled strips of lemon zest (each 2 inches long), plus 2 teaspoons of fresh juice
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup (I use agave syrup)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks


  • 1/2 cup blanched almonds
  • 1/2 cup shelled pistachios
  • 1 cup walnut halves (I often only use walnuts instead of the nuts above, making it 2 cups of walnuts)
  • 1/3 cup sugar (I use maple sugar here)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 sticks (2 cups) of unsalted butter, melted (I often use butter-flavored non-stick spray which is faster and works well, though I know real butter would be much tastier.)
  • 1 pound phyllo dough, thawed
  • 30 whole cloves


  • Step 1 Syrup: In a small saucepan, stir together sugar, honey, 3/4 cup water, zest and juice, corn syrup, and cinnamon sticks. Heat over medium-high, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high, bring to a boil, and cook, without stirring, until syrup thickens slightly and registers 230 degrees on a candy thermometer. Let cool completely; discard zest and cinnamon sticks. (You should have about 1 1/2 cups.) Syrup can be made up to 1 day ahead and stored at room temperature.
  • Step 2 Filling: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a food processor, finely grind all nuts. Add sugar, cinnamon, and salt; pulse just to combine. Transfer to a bowl.
  • Step 3 Brush a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with butter. Trim phyllo sheets to just fit inside the baking dish (each about 8 1/2 by 12 1/2 inches). Lay phyllo flat on a work surface; cover it with a damp kitchen towel to prevent drying out. Place a sheet in the prepared dish; brush generously with melted butter. Repeat with 6 more phyllo sheets, brushing each with butter before laying down next. Spread 1 cup filling evenly over top, then top with 5 more phyllo sheets, buttering each layer. Spread 1 cup filling over top, followed by 5 more buttered phyllo sheets. Spread remaining filling over phyllo; finish with 7 buttered phyllo sheets.
  • Step 4 Using a long, sharp knife, cut lengthwise all the way through layers at 2-inch intervals. Make diagonal cuts across strips to form 2-inch diamonds, again cutting all the way through layers. Pierce each diamond with a whole clove.
  • Step 5 Using your fingers, lightly sprinkle the top of the pastry with cold water (to prevent curling). Bake, rotating dish once until baklava is deep golden brown, 45 to 50 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and recut through all lines. Pour syrup over top, saturating fully; let cool at least 4 hours before serving. Baklava can be covered with plastic wrap and stored at room temperature up to 1 week.

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