These bite-sized baklava rolls are made from scrunched layers of phyllo, a three-nut mixture, cinnamon, spice and everything nice. They’re so good; it’s difficult to stop at just one! Plus…recipe VIDEO included!
I have a love/hate relationship with these things.
Gosh! I love them so much; I could eat them all day.
And gosh I hate them so much, because I do eat them all day!
They’re one of those things that “once you pop, you can’t stop.” SO ADDICTIVELY GOOD!
Crunchy, nutty, flaky, syrupy, and wafting with my all time favorite spice…Cinnamon. How can I resist?
And it doesn’t help either that they’re bite-sized. So one bite leads to the other leads to another…and it’s only downhill from there.
Consider this a fair warning dear friends…proceed at your own risk.
These baklava rolls prove that good things come in small packages.
One tiny bite of these pack so much flavor and so much happiness enough to let your taste buds sing.
Known as Saragli in Greece, these little nuggets of joy are made from crunchy sheets of phyllo, the most amazing nut combo, cinnamon and spiced sweet syrup. Basically, everything you love about baklava, rolled up like cigars, scrunched like fabric and shrunk to the size of a thimble. They’re delicious, they’re pretty and they make for the most elegant dessert in the most special of events.
They’re also something I only thought I could get from a Turkish or Greek bakery.
Something that requires extensive training and years of experience…because don’t they look sophisticated?
But ha! Turns out the only thing standing between us (regular mortals) and these deceptively simple sweets, with a pastry shop-style appeal, is a stick.
But I like to think of it as a magic wand…
Similar to these baklava bracelets, all you do is roll phyllo around a stick, scrunch, impress.
When I serve these, people are always blown away by the shirred fabric look of the baklava rolls, thinking I scrunched each piece individually. Little do they know how simple the process actually is. See?
For this lovely, lovely recipe you’re gonna be needing:
- A stick that is slightly longer than the length of your phyllo. Since I’m already popping tons of these every few weeks, I felt it was worth getting a nice one made by a carpenter. He made it 50cm long and 5mm in thickness and it couldn’t be more perfect. However, you don’t need to get out of your way to custom-make one; a cake dowel or 2 chopsticks taped to each other will work just as well.
- Phyllo dough. Use the best quality phyllo you can find. It is important that the sheets have as little tears as possible and are soft to begin with so they don’t crack as you work with them.
- An assortment of nuts. A combination of pistachios, walnuts, and almonds work really well together. Feel free to use your favorite nuts; pecans and hazelnuts would work great here! We’re going to pulverize these guys together with some cinnamon.
- Cinnamon: Love this warm, cozy spice so much, and it’s so amazingly wonderful here.
- Melted Ghee, or clarified butter: I prefer to use ghee, because I’m too lazy to clarify butter; but you’ll find instructions on how to clarify butter in the recipe below. Straight up butter tends to unevenly bake baklavas, since the milk solids have a low smoking point, which can burn in the oven. By clarifying it, we’re getting rid of those milk solids and keeping the pure butter fat, which never burns.
- Spiced Sugar Syrup: This one is packed with warm, cozy flavors from the cinnamon and cloves. A tiny bit of glucose is added to it to prevent crystallization,; which in return increases the baklava’s shelf life. It’s optional though, so no worries if you don’t have it.
We start by slicing the phyllo sheet stack in half to make thinner sheets. Then we layer 2 sheets on top of each other, brushing each sheet with a layer of ghee (or clarified butter).
We then sprinkle 2 teaspoons of the cinnamon spiced ground nut mixture all over the surface, and start rolling around the
magic wand stick.
Once it’s all rolled up, place each hand on both ends of the rolled phyllo, carefully push both ends towards the center to scrunch like an accordion.
Slide the scrunched phyllo roll out of the dowel and transfer to a greased baking pan. Cut each row into forths.
See those shaggy ends? You’ll wanna slice through them too, so you could end up with neat, straight baklava pieces. Those excess ruffly bites will become your kitchen snack later…and you know what?! They’re actually my favorite part. So extra crunchy!
If you have any ghee (clarified butter) leftover, brush that on top of the rolls. Don’t let a drop go to waste. What can I say…baklava loves fat. Then into the oven it goes…
As soon as it comes out, while still piping hot…pour on that super flavorful syrup!
Will you look at that?
Don’t eat one just yet! Give it some time to soak in the syrup and relax in the sugary bath.
After that…go nuts with the pistachios!
They make everything so much prettier. And tastier.
Just so dangerously good.
- 250g (1¼ cup) granulated sugar
- 150g (2/3 cup) water
- 28g (1½ tablespoons) glucose syrup (optional, but recommended)
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 4 cloves, whole
- Small squeeze of lemon juice
- 200g (almost 1 cup) melted ghee (or clarified butter* instructions below)
- 50g (about ½ cup) walnuts
- 50g (about ½ cup) almonds, blanched
- 50g (about ½ cup) pistachios
- ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 (500g/1 lb) package phyllo dough (please see notes below for brand recommendation)
- Ground pistachio, for garnish (optional)
- In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, water, glucose syrup (if using), cinnamon stick, cloves and lemon juice, and bring to a full boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally to ensure that the sugar dissolves. Once boiled, take off heat.
- Transfer to a measuring cup with a spout or gravy boat and set aside to cool completely before using. (Cooled syrup can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 4 days; bring back to room temperature before using)
- Adjust oven rack to lower middle position and preheat oven to 150C/300F.
- In a food processor, grind the walnuts, almonds, pistachios and cinnamon together until very finely chopped but not powdery; being sure there are no large pieces as they will rip through the phyllo sheets.
- Unwrap and unfold the phyllo on a large cutting board and smooth out with hands to flatten. Using a sharp knife, cut the phyllo stack in half, to form smaller rectangular sheets that are half the size of the original phyllo sheet. Cover phyllo with plastic wrap, then top with a damp kitchen towel to prevent from drying out.
- Lay one rectangle of phyllo with the longer side facing you; keeping the rest covered. Brush phyllo with a light coating of ghee, then top with a second sheet; brush with ghee as well.
- Sprinkle a little over 2 teaspoons of the nut mixture over the entire surface of the phyllo. Place a long rod or stick like a dowel, at the edge nearest to you. Loosely roll the rectangle of phyllo around the rod; making sure its not too tight or you'll have difficulty getting it out of the rod.
- Placing each hand on both ends of the rolled phyllo, carefully push both ends towards the center to scrunch. Slide the scrunched phyllo roll out of the dowel and transfer to a greased 13X9 inch baking pan. Repeat with remaining phyllo rectangles, arranging the rolls so that they're touching side by side.
- Using a sharp knife, cut the rows of rolls in half vertically, then cut each half in half, so that each roll is now cut into 4 pieces. If desired, straighten out the shaggy ends of the rolls by cutting through the very ends. Do not remove them and keep them intact; they will later make the nicest kitchen snack.
- Brush the remaining ghee all over the rolls. Bake until crisp and deep golden brown in color; about 70 to 90 minutes.
- When ready, remove from the oven and immediately pour the cool syrup over the hot baklava rolls. Allow them to soak up the syrup for least 30 minutes. then sprinkle with ground pistachio and serve. Leftovers can be stored, covered tightly with foil for about 1 week.
* To clarify butter, melt 250g butter slowly over medium low heat until the milk solids have separated from the butterfat. and collected on the bottom of the saucepan. Remove the pan from heat, let the butter settle for 10 minutes, then carefully skim the foam from the surface with a spoon. Slowly pour the clear butterfat into a bowl, leaving all the milk solids behind in the saucepan. You should end up with about 200g clarified butter.
* My preferred phyllo brand to use in this recipe is Al Sonbola. It is the best choice of what I have available in Egypt. Make sure to use the best quality phyllo brand available to you, that has little to no tears. Inferior brands will crack and break as you rolls them.
Recipe adapted with slight changes from Akis Petretzikis