Baklava is my favorite treat.

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Pastry:

3 cups toasted, finely chopped walnuts

2 cups toasted finely chopped almonds

2/3 cup sugar

2 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. cardamom

1/4 tsp. ground cloves

2 lbs. Phyllo dough, thawed in refrigerator

1 1/2 cups butter, melted

Syrup:

2 cups sugar

2 cups honey

2 cups water

One 6 inch strip lemon peel

1 vanilla bean, halved

1 cinnamon stick

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 9×13 inch metal pan.

In a small bowl mix the chopped nuts, sugar and spices. Set aside.

On a clean surface, open the phyllo dough, cut the dough the size of the pan, saving the scrapes. Cover dough with damp towel while assembling.  Layer 8 sheets of phyllo with butter lightly brushed between each layer. Place the pile of layered buttered sheets inside the prepared pan. Sprinkle 1 cup of the nut mixture evenly over the top. Repeat with the 8 buttered layers, using scraps to form and piece together layers and then 1 cup nuts until nuts are completely used. For the top layer of phyllo using nice sheets, layer 35 buttered sheets on flat surface and place on top. With a sharp knife , cut through the top layers of phyllo into 20 square pieces.

Bake for 1-1 1/2 hours until layers are crisp throughout and top is golden.

While baklava is baking, prepare the syrup. Combine all the syrup ingredients in a large pot. Bring to a boil; reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes or until the syrup is like the thick consistency of maple syrup. Remove from heat to cool slightly.

Once the baklava is baked, remove from oven and ladle on the syrup over the top of hot baklava. It will look as if it’s swimming in syrup. Set the syrup covered baklava aside. Allow to set until the syrup is absorbed into all the layers of the phyllo. Cut into squares, following the cuts you made before baking.

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