To me, a standard baklava is made with phyllo pastry and is filled with honey and nuts. It is typically cut in triangles and is easily found in many Greek or Middle Eastern restaurants or grocery stores.
However, there isn’t just one type of baklava. There is a beautiful one that resembles a bird’s nest. Looking at it, the nest is visually quite detailed. I felt a bit like Godzilla when I ate this dessert – attacking the poor eggs. Of course, it isn’t really a bird’s nest!
It has thin strands of shedded phyllo pastry to bear resemblance to the twigs of a nest in a circular, bowl-like structure. It also has whole almonds to look like ovoid-shaped bird eggs and the pistachios are in there just for good measure. Like many Middle Eastern desserts, you can get your fill with one huge portion or eat one (or several) small versions. The little ones only have enough space for the pistachios or an almond, so take your pick!
It’s sticky to touch because of the sweet, liquidy sugar water. I believe there are variations of this, but the standard is made of sugar, water and possibly lemon or orange blossom water. The base of the nest is made by drenching the phyllo strands with this sweet concoction and then spinning it around one’s finger to recreate the image of a bird’s nest. The thin strands resemble thin noodles, perhaps a vermicelli? Once the nests are built, more syrup is added on top before it is baked golden-brown and crispy. Following is the chopped pistachio nuts/almonds.
The alternative version avoids dealing with the thin strands and uses full sheets of phyllo pastry instead. The method for this is rolling it on a small rod and then scrunching it together before removing it and making a circular, nest shape with it. You can see a video of this on YouTube.
Overall, this dessert is sweet but wasn’t ridiculously sweet. It was pretty filling, given that I ate a big one. I’ll know for next time to eat just one or two small ones. Despite being drenched in sugar water repeatedly during the cooking process, the phyllo remained crispy. Based on the video above, it is recommended that you drink tea with it. I can see that working. Enjoy! 🙂