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Baklava (sugarfree!)

June 4, 2009

baklava sf

I always enjoy a good challenge, so when my mom requested that I make a sugarfree desert to take to a picnic, I was excited!  For some reason, my mind went straight to baklava.  While this might not be the most user friendly of picnic deserts, it sounded great, and I thought it would be pretty easy to make sugar free.  Since I was making this for my mom who is just allergic to sugar–not diabetic, she just can’t have sugar–I was still able to use some honey, but I think you could play around with the recipe to eliminate the honey entirely.

When I asked my mom which artificial sweeteners she could use (i.e. could I use agave nectar?) she had no clue.  I know that if I were allergic to sugar, I would immediately start looking for replacements.  So we tried out agave nectar on this one which made the syrup especially easy to make–important after a long weekend!  So now my mom has something she can use instead of honey!

These were pretty good.  They were by far one of the first (if not the first) desserts to disappear from the desert table.  Everyone seemed to enjoy it, never even noticing the sugar-free” aspect!  A little messy, but isn’t that what napkins are for?  


baklava sf 2

Sugar-free Baklava


12 oz. finely chopped pecans (or other nuts)
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cloves
¼ tsp salt


1 c honey
1 c agave nectar
juice of 1 lemon
¼ tsp almond extract

Phyllo dough
Butter, melted, about 1 sick

Combine all of the Filling ingredients.  Center a rack in the oven, preheat the oven to 350F, then prep your workspace, including laying out the phyllo dough inbetween wax paper or plastic wrap in between damp towels, melted butter with a brush, a greased 9×12 pan, and the filling.

Place one sheet of phyllo dough in the pan.  Brush with butter, and repeat about 8 times.  If you lose count, it isn’t the end of the world (I know I did), but about 8 times is good.  Sprinkle half of the filling across the phyllo dough.  Again, make 8 of the phyllo dough and butter layers on top of the filling, then sprinkle with the other half of filling.  Finally, make approximately 8 more phyllo dough/butter layers.

Using a sharp knife, cut the shapes of the final baklava you want (triangles are good) in the top phyllo dough layer.  This makes it possible to get good, crisp cuts after cooked and brittle! 

Spritz or lightly sprinkle with cold water–I think this keeps it flat during the baking process so it doesn’t curl up around the cuts you just made.  Bake for 20 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 300F for about 15 minutes or until the baklava is golden brown.

Meanwhile, combine all of the syrup ingredients and whisk vigorously to combine.

When you pull the baklava out of the oven, give it just a few minutes to cool slightly (about 5 mins) then pour the syrup over.  A great use of the 5 minute wait is to cut the baklava through to separate the pieces.  

Wait several hours for everything to settle.  I find this is best made the night before so it can just settle overnight.  Make sure to cover it after it reaches room temp!


baklava sf 3

2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 7, 2009 9:04 pm

    Your mom is lucky to have you there baking with her in mind – how’d you like the agave nectar? I’ve never used it, but I’ve been told it’s pretty good.

  2. Charli permalink*
    June 8, 2009 8:21 pm

    Caitlin–The agave nectar worked out really well…no icky after taste. And for this recipe, it was actually way easier than making a simple syrup from sugar! This was my first attempt with agave nectar though, so I haven’t made cookies or cakes with it. I don’t know that it will become a regular use item except when I’m cooking for my mom or someone diabetic, though because it’s still fructose, and isn’t exactly very healthy!

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