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Sweet Maui Onion Baklava
By Chef Christina Pirello

Ingredients

Filling

Extra Virgin Olive Oil
8 Maui Onions thinly sliced into half moon pieces
Sea Salt
2 tablespoons Brown Rice Syrup*
1 tablespoon Kuzu (Kudzu) dissolved in 3 tablespoons cold water.
Ginger Root (1 inch piece) grated juice extracted
1 tablespoon Kuzu dissolved in 3 tablespoons cold water

Pastry

2 cups Almonds blanched
1/2 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon (optional)
Pastry - 15 sheets Phyllo Dough thawed in the refrigerator laid flat on a dry surface and covered with a kitchen towel
1/2 cup Olive Oil (approximately)
*May be purchased at local health food and natural food stores.

Directions

To make the onion filling, heat about 3 tablespoons olive oil in a deep skillet. Sauté onions, with a generous sprinkle of salt, until limp, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue cooking onions, covered, for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching. Add rice syrup and ginger juice and cook, uncovered, until the mixture thickens slightly, about 10 minutes. Stir in dissolved kuzu until the mixture thickens and turns clear, about 3 minutes more. Set aside to cool.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly oil the bottom and sides of a 13 x 9-inch baking pan. Place blanched almonds in a food processor and grind into a fine meal. Add cinnamon and pulse just to combine.

Fold one sheet of phyllo in half crosswise and fit into prepared pan. Brush lightly with oil. Repeat folding and layering with 4 more sheets of phyllo, creating a multi-layered base. Sprinkle evenly with ½ cup almond mixture. Spread half the onion filling over almonds and sprinkle with another ½ cup almond mixture.

Fold, layer and oil 5 more phyllo sheets over filling (just like you did with the base). Sprinkle with ½ cup almond mixture and top with remaining onion filling. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup almond mixture.

Fold, layer and oil the remaining 5 sheets of phyllo over the second layer of filling, except in this layer, sprinkle a little of the remaining almond mixture between each folded sheet. Brush the top of the baklava lightly with oil. With a sharp knife, score the top sheets to mark servings--diamond shapes are most common for this dish traditionally, but any shape is okay. You will want to mark for 24 servings. Bake on the center oven rack for about 50 minutes, until the phyllo is golden brown and crispy. Remove from oven and cool in the pan on a wire cooling rack. Cut into marked servings and serve warm. Makes 24 servings.

Tip:

When you buy phyllo, it usually is in the freezer section. Before use, simply place the package in the refrigerator for about 6 hours to thaw. If you try to thaw frozen phyllo at room temperature, it will soften unevenly, resulting in unusable pastry.

You may purchase blanched almonds in specialty stores or you may blanch almonds by boiling them for 5 minutes, cooling to room temperature and slipping the brown, papery skins off the nuts.