Yid.Dish: Individual Baklava

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Individual Baklava
(About 24 pastries)
Baklava, which means “sweet-of-a-thousand-layers,” is a traditional Purim treat throughout the Middle East as well as enjoyed throughout the year. This version consists of individual pastries.

Syrup:
2 cups sugar
1 cup water
2 (3-inch) cinnamon sticks or 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Filling:
4 cups (about 1 pound) finely chopped almonds, walnuts, or pistachios or any combination
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 pound phyllo dough, cut in half crosswise
About 1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, melted

1. To make the syrup: Stir the sugar and water over medium-low heat until the sugar dissolves. Stop stirring, increase the heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil. Add the cinnamon and, if desired, lemon juice and simmer until slightly thickened, about 15 minutes. Let cool and refrigerate for at least 8 hours.
2. To make the filling: Combine all of the filling ingredients.
3. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a large baking sheet.
4. To assemble: Place 1 phyllo sheet on a flat surface and brush with butter or margarine. Place 2 tablespoons filling near a short end, fold the long sides over the filling, and starting from the filling end, roll up jelly roll style. (The pastries can be frozen for up to 3 months. Do not thaw; increase the baking time by about 10 minutes.)
5. Place the pastries, seam side down, on the prepared baking sheet about 2 inches apart and brush with butter or margarine. Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes.
6. Drizzle the cooled syrup slowly over the hot pastry. Cover and store at room temperature or in the freezer.

VARIATION:
Date, Chocolate, and Nut Baklava: Reduce the nuts to 2 cups and the sugar to 2 tablespoons and add 6 ounces (about 1 cup) coarsely chop dates and 6 ounces coarsely chop semisweet chocolate.

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