Spiced Pumpkin Baklava with Walnuts and Honey

in Desserts

Spiced Pumpkin Baklava // www.acozykitchen.com

Hello my cute, internet friends! Yesterday I got an email from a friend I went to college with telling me that she has a friend whose son is being teased a lot at school for liking to bake. And I thought, how odd! Don’t kids love cupcakes and sweet stuff?! What kind of world do we live in?! Monsters, I tell you.

It made me think about my own childhood…I’m pretty sure a lot of us were teased at one time or another, some more than others. One of my best friends was openly gay from the time he was 12, and growing up in the South, he had no friends at all. I remember when we became friends, in our first year of college, he told me I was his first friend. He was 18. I remember crying when he told me that.

Being teased can make you feel so isolated, so super awful and it can make your world feel like a terrible place to live in. We have such thin skin at that age–and even now I can still be pretty sensitive. I imagine, as a parent it puts you in a peculiar position, too, because what do you do? You can’t yell at a ten year old for being mean to your kid, though I’m not sure I’d be above this seeing as I’m a super CRAZY dog mother at the dog park.

Spiced Pumpkin Baklava with Walnuts and Honey

My friend asked me to chat with him, to answer any questions he has. What do I say? My first thought is to tell him that none of this matters. I only talk to a handful of people from high school. Their opinions about the weird, angsty poetry I wrote in my room mean nothing now! But, when you’re in it, and it’s your world, the opinion of your peers mean everything.

It does get better. You grow up and go to college and find friends who have the same interests as you. The world is so large, everyone is bound to find their place. I know I did.

Now, baklava…

Spiced Pumpkin Baklava with Walnuts and Honey

Spiced Pumpkin Baklava with Walnuts and Honey

I love a good baklava. This is an autumn version, layered with beautifully spice-laden pumpkin. It’s thickened with an egg and sweetened with brown sugar and sprinkled with soft walnuts. I tried this with pumpkin seeds but found them too tough, too hard and sort of chewy. You want a soft nut. (

Walnuts work great. I imagine pecans would be cool too.

The honey topping is perfect. Spiced. And salty. Honey and salt are perfect together, remember?

Spiced Pumpkin Baklava with Walnuts and Honey

Spiced Pumpkin Baklava with Walnuts

Print this recipe!

1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
1/4 cup white granulated sugar
2 tablespoons light or dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch ground cloves
Pinch ground cardamom
1 large egg
1 package phyllo dough, about 23 sheets, thawed
1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 cup walnuts, chopped

Topping:
2/3 cup honey
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
Pinch ground cinnamon

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Equipment: I used a 9 x 12-inch baking dish. You can also use a quarter baking sheet. I’ve even used a 9-inch round cake pan and it turned out beautifully. You may have to trim your phyllo dough to fit the sheets. I had to do this with my casserole dish, so just a heads up on that.

2. In a medium bowl, mix together the pumpkin puree, sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, cloves, cardamom and egg.

3. Next, grab a clean kitchen towel and dampen it, being sure to wring out any excess water. Place it over the thawed phyllo dough as you assemble the baklava. (Phyllo dough tends to dry out very quickly and assembling the baklava takes a bit of time. The damp kitchen towel will help with this.)

4. Brush the first sheet of phyllo dough with melted butter and transfer it, buttered-side down, into the baking dish. Repeat this process for the next 7 layers. Top the 8th layer with a few teaspoons of pumpkin mixture, spreading it out evenly. Sprinkle the pumpkin with a small handful of chopped walnuts. (Eight bottom layers of phyllo will give you a sturdy piece of baklava, versus a flimsy one.)

5. Butter the next 5 sheets, placing them buttered-side down into the baking dish. Top the 5th layer of phyllo dough with a few teaspoons of pumpkin mixture and walnuts. Repeat this for the next two layers. You should end up with four layers of baklava. Using a sharp knife, slice the baklava into 1-inch diamonds or squares. Transfer to the oven to bake for 15-20 minutes, until the top is lightly golden brown and crisp.

6. While the baklava is baking, let’s make the topping! In a small skillet, mix together the honey, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt. Heat until the sugar is dissolved. When the baklava comes out of the oven, drizzle the honey mixture on top. Allow it to sit for 1-3 hours so it has a chance to marinate!

{ 39 comments… read them below or add one }

Belinda @themoonblushbaker September 27, 2013 at 1:49 am

That is so sad that teasing is still gender based! I think there is a dynamic in society that cooking and baking is just for girls, That really makes me mad! I even took my university course to learn more about gender in society.
I really believe you should support your kids in what they love no matter if it considered girly or boyish. Who knows this little boy could be are next Thomas Keller?
Love the Baklava, I am so bad at working with filo… But Yours looks fall perfect!

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Adrianna Adarme September 30, 2013 at 8:45 am

Agreed. A lot of men are chefs. Cooking is definitely not “girly.”

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Cheryl September 27, 2013 at 4:07 am

Pumpkin baklava is genius! I can’t wait to try it.

Please remind your new baking friend that it really does get better. Way better than high school. :) So many really great chefs are men. It’s not like Bobby Flay started cooking when he was 30. Tell him to hang in there – he has more support than he knows.

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Adrianna Adarme September 30, 2013 at 8:45 am

I’ll tell him!

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Serena September 27, 2013 at 4:14 am

I have never made baklava before, because of how intimidating it sounds, but I think I will have to try this!!

It breaks my heart to think of a little boy being teased for liking to bake…. and makes me worry about my little man. He’s only 1 1/2, but he thinks that helping Mama in the kitchen is awesome (especially as I let him ‘help’ me more). It’s scary to think that, in 10 years, the kids on the playground may be teasing him for that.

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Adrianna Adarme September 30, 2013 at 8:46 am

It’s actually much easier than it looks. The layering just takes a bit.

I’d say keep him in the kitchen. Being able to cook and feed yourself is so important.

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Ali @ Inspiralized September 27, 2013 at 5:21 am

I really think you should post up some of your angsty poetry…. :) Love this, baklava is why I always gain weight during the holidays, I can’t resist it’s pastriness…

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Adrianna Adarme September 30, 2013 at 8:46 am

HAHA! Oh gracious no. Maybe. I dunno. When I go home for the holidays I’ll grab it out of the attic to see how terrible it actually is ;)

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Tieghan September 27, 2013 at 5:32 am

That just plain sucks! kids can be SO incredibly mean. It’s just so unfair!

I love this baklava! I have always wanted to make a baklava, but still never have. Pumpkin spice sounds like a good one to try out and I love the topping!

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Adrianna Adarme September 30, 2013 at 8:47 am

Tieghan, you’re a gem!

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Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar September 27, 2013 at 5:34 am

Oh man!! This is freaking awesome!

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Erin @ The Spiffy Cookie September 27, 2013 at 8:56 am

Absolutely love this!

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ashley - baker by nature September 27, 2013 at 11:04 am

Kids can be such mean little dummies. It makes them less cute. Also, omg… this is the awesomest baklava the world has ever seen.

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Laura September 27, 2013 at 11:39 am

Wow this recipe is great! I absolutely love pumpkin and baklava but never thought to put them together! Deeeeeeeelicious :)

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Alejandra September 27, 2013 at 11:50 am

Oh, no you didn’t. Holy moly!

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Billy September 27, 2013 at 11:58 am

high school sucks hard. looking back I wish I was the fierce bitch that I am today, I could have cared less and told everyone to suck it.

PS I WANT LIKE 20 PANS OF THIS.

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Adrianna Adarme September 30, 2013 at 8:47 am

I wasn’t a bitch in high school either. Too scary. I was just quiet and reserved and would take it. If only I could go back…

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marie September 27, 2013 at 12:03 pm

I think the best response you can give anyone who gives you grief about what you like to do is just, “So?” It’s disarming and forces the other person to justify their criticism. Even if they come back with “only girls bake” or whatever, you’ve already put them on the defensive and shown you don’t care about what they just said. The less you react, the less they’ll keep bothering you. You know who else liked to bake? Peeta in The Hunger Games. And he was hot.

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Adrianna Adarme September 30, 2013 at 8:48 am

Haha Peeta! He’s a baker!

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Pru September 27, 2013 at 12:33 pm

I admit..I almost didn’t click on the title so that I could read more of your recipe. I don’t know…for some reason pumpkin baklava just didn’t appeal to me, mainly because I’m just not in a pumpkin mood today.

Then I read your post.

Then I read the recipe.

I’m glad I did.

Now I’m in a pumpkin mood.

An angry mom wanting to protect this young boy from bullying and tell him that everything will be alright, to hold his head high, and to keep baking because if it makes him happy, then just do it, and someday he just might be famous, and own his own Patisserie, and I want to make pumpkin baklava when I get home kind of mood.

Thank you for a lovely post, and have a lovely weekend. <3

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Adrianna Adarme September 30, 2013 at 8:48 am

Thank you, Pru!

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loryn September 27, 2013 at 1:01 pm

you’re a great friend and a great person. im a high school teacher and I watch these horrible dynamics and hierarchies unfolding before me every day. I think you’re right to tell him that it gets better. it might also be good to tell him you remember it happening to you, and to your friend. the worst part about being bullied is feeling like you’re alone in it. uggg. poor guy. there’s also this very young make baking blogger on the scene these days…anyone remember his name? maybe he’d be a good resource, too.

soft nut. hahahahahahahaha.

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Adrianna Adarme September 30, 2013 at 8:54 am

That’s true. Kamran from Sophisticated Gourmet! I’ll direct him to that blog. If I was a teacher, I’m not even sure how I’d deal with it. I read this whole article in the NYTimes about how some schools are teaching “emotional intelligence,” which I think is amazing. My school made us take an emotional intelligence class where everyone talked about their feelings. It was really helpful.

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loryn September 30, 2013 at 9:00 am

Yes, Kamran! I’m part of an initiative at my school for social/emotional learning and am attending a four part conference starting this Friday. i’ll def be in touch if I come across any info or scenarios that might be relevant/helpful to you and your friend.
xo

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Adrianna Adarme September 30, 2013 at 9:05 am

Yes, please do! xoxo

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Christine September 27, 2013 at 2:32 pm

Jr. high and high schoolers can be so mean. I taught my nephew to knit when he was 13, he loved it. Sadly, his “friends” made fun of him and he quit. So sad. This baklava is amazing. I never would have thought of attempting this but you made it seem so easy!

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Emily@ TotesDelishy September 27, 2013 at 3:21 pm

The idea of your buddy not having a friend until he was 18 years old breaks my heart. I hope the changes in legislation supporting gay marriage helps to change the stigma we have about homosexuality and strict ideas of gender norms.
I also hope that as those kids grow up they realize that having friends with different interests and backgrounds is the best way to have new experiences and in your little friends case the best way to get delicious snacks!
Thanks for sharing these stories, and for keeping it real.

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Adrianna Adarme September 30, 2013 at 8:52 am

Agreed. I really do hope it helps, though I think it’s going to take a bit of time, unfortunately.

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Javi Trulove @ T3treats September 27, 2013 at 4:08 pm

Well i have to say that i’m a Boy and since like 12 or before i loved to bake, however Kids are cruels and means since always, they just find a weakest kind on the bunch and treat them like a punch bag. I used to be bullied too, but i also find my strength and was the Chemistry who is so similar than the bakery dont you think? Suddenly all guys who bullied me wanna to have my help on their Schoolwork and i took some advantage of that.

BTW the Baklavas looks ADORABLE!!!! i never try baklavas before but i must say that the flavour combo must be Delicious

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Adrianna Adarme September 30, 2013 at 8:49 am

Javi, sending love your way! Thanks for being here.

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Christina September 27, 2013 at 4:17 pm

Holy Baklava! Such a good idea. I’m always trying to coming up with new ways for pumpkin. This, I would have never thought of! :)

Come check out the Cannoli Sandwiches I made over at Because of Madalene!
http://www.becauseofmadalene.com/2013/09/gluten-free-cannoli-sandwich.html

xo,
Christina

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Abby September 27, 2013 at 4:21 pm

Brilliant! I’ve never thought of baklava with anything but the traditional nutty filling. Adding the pumpkin sounds delightful. We just ate dinner… sooooo now I’d love you to mail me a slice.

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Kasha the FarmGirl September 28, 2013 at 1:48 am

I think I will try this with roasted kabocha squash. It’s my go to for pumpkin dishes.

Thanks for sharing this!

Sadly, kids need to find the courage to be themselves and live true to who they are despite the obstacles :(

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Jillian@TheHumbleGourmet September 30, 2013 at 10:54 am

This looks incredible. I’ve never been the biggest baklava fan (I had a really terrible batch at an impressionable age, which scared me away), but I could definitely get into this pumpkin and nut version. Yum!

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Sophia October 6, 2013 at 7:42 am

I love baklava and think this is such a genius twist on it! And I totally agree, even if it sounds odd, sometimes only a soft nut will do! One way to soften pepitas might be to cook them in a sugar or honey syrup – you could cut down on the sugar in the pumpkin filling, cook the pepitas in the honey syrup, maybe thinned slightly with water, and then use them in the filling once they have softened a bit?

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Nina October 11, 2013 at 6:16 am

This had a delicious flavor but I think I did something wrong– mine came out kind of soggy, except for the top layer for a little while. I might have needed to bake it more. The spiced honey syrup is SO good on it.

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Ashley November 25, 2013 at 8:14 pm

I am going to the grocery store tomorrow (well if I am not completly snowed in! it is sleeting out as I speak!) and getting the things I need to make this for Thanksgiving in a few days, this sounds like a perfect new addition to our menu! I always try out a new dessert each year last year was Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie it was great but I am not much on pies but I LOVE Baklavah so I am excited to try this one! I also wonder how Caramel would work if substituted for the Honey, I guess it would make the phyllio dough too soggy…I am a caramel lover is why I say this , but I cannot wait to try this out for my families Thanksgiving this year and I am also eyeing a few other pies and recipes on your page as some lat min changes to what I am cooking! THANKS SO MUCH FOR THE IDEAS!!!! Lot’s of Love from a snowy corner in North Carolina !!!!

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Adrianna Adarme November 25, 2013 at 8:19 pm

Oooo! That sounds so cozy. (I have a deep love for North Carolina – I spent my college years there!) I personally think caramel will be too heavy with the phyllo dough and make it a bit too heavy. I think honey is definitely the way to go with this baklava. Hope you like it! Have a happy Thanksgiving!

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Erin @ The Spiffy Cookie September 17, 2014 at 6:55 pm

Any chance this can be made in advance? Say the day before, refrigerate and bake the second day?

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