Brighten The Rich Sweetness Of Baklava With Orange Blossom Water And Zest

close up of baklava pieces
close up of baklava pieces - Alexander Roberts/Tasting Table

Dozens of baklava recipes exist around the world. And while ingredients might change from place to place, the main recognizable elements of this Middle Eastern dessert offer thin sheets of phyllo dough layered with nuts and sweeteners like honey or sugar. Whether walnuts, pistachios, or hazelnuts are used to make this tempting treat, however, a hint of citrus can help some of the more flavorful notes sing. As Tasting Table recipe developer Alexander Roberts shared in her pIstachio and orange baklava recipe, zest from an orange and a spoonful of orange blossom water is all that is needed to create a fresh take on this classic favorite. "We'll add some cinnamon for a warm spice note, and use both orange zest and orange blossom water to brighten the sweetness of the baklava," Roberts writes.

Orange juice, sugar, water, honey, and orange blossom water make a beautiful warm syrup that can be drizzled on top of warm baklava. The best part of inviting orange flavors into a baklava recipe is that the inclusion happens after the initial baklava has baked, so if you forget about the zesty upgrade, you have time to add it later. Those who want to double down on the taste of the lively fruit can let the orange-infused syrup after the first pour before drizzling another round for a more pronounced burst of citrus. The light tang of the orange and orange blossom can level out any overpowering sweetness and provide the perfect complement for buttery bites of crunchy pistachios and flaky pastry dough.

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A Spoonful Is All You Need To Upgrade Recipes

plate of baklava pieces
plate of baklava pieces - Alexander Roberts/Tasting Table

Though it can be difficult to find orange blossom or orange flower water in regular markets, you can check specialty stores or look online. You can also make your own orange blossom or orange flower water at home to use in not only your baklava recipes but also other desserts and dishes calling for a bit of pep. You'll need to plan in advance, however, as orange flower petals must be steeped for many weeks before the water is ready to use.

After grinding washed blossoms in a mortar and pestle, let the petals sit for a few hours before adding them to distilled water. Ideally, this water-filled glass container will be kept in the sun. Periodically check your citrus concoction by smelling the brew and straining it when you're pleased with the results.

You'll only need one teaspoon to add to the syrup you make to pour over your baklava, so you can store the rest in the refrigerator to add to other recipes. You may find yourself sneaking splashes of the citrusy flavor enhancer into morning pancakes, chicken dishes, or even a classic old fashioned cocktail -- and, of course, don't forget an extra sprinkling or orange zest to finish off your recipes with a bright and pleasing garnish.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.