Meera Sudha’s recipe for Vegan Christmas Baklava | Vegetarian food and drink

aAs much as I love cooking for people, me adore Watching Poirot re-run and play rounds of Who Am I? On the birthday of Christ. That means get well ahead of the cooking, and things like this baklava are a no-brainer: It has all the fun and flavor of Christmas, but nothing like that. They’re made using pre-made mince, marzipan and phyllo sheets, so “making” them is actually more of an assembly task. And just like me, he can sit quite happily for a week or so with no problem.

Christmas baklava

This recipe can easily be doubled. You will need a food processor for the nuts, and a 25cm x 25cm deep baking tray (you can use a larger tray, but it won’t fit the filo as snugly). Make sure that the minced meat and marzipan are suitable for vegetarians.

to equip 10 minutes
cook 1 hour 20 minutes, plus refrigeration
Make about 35 pcs

for a drink
100 grams of soft sugar
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
1 tablespoon of brandy

To prepare the baklava
125 grams of peeled walnutsFinely
125 grams of peeled pistachiofinely ground (set aside 20g for finishing)
1¼ teaspoon of spices
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
Zest of 1 lemon
100 grams of marzipan
190 grams of minced meat
100 grams of unsalted vegetable butter
1 x 270g filo pastry packet (eg, 7 leaves)

First prepare the syrup, which must be cold before you pass it over the baklava so you don’t end up with a soggy bottom. Put the sugar, 100ml water and the lemon juice in a small saucepan, bring to a simmer over low to medium heat, then simmer for about eight minutes, until the mixture begins to coat the back of a spoon. Add the brandy and simmer for another minute, then remove the heat and allow to cool.

Now for the filling. Put the ground nuts in a bowl, add the spices, salt and zest, then mix. Add the minced meat and marzipan and mix again.

Preheat oven to 170°C (fan 150°C) / 325°F / Gas 3. Melt the butter in the microwave and remove the filo from the refrigerator. Lay the filo sheets in a stack, cut them in half vertically from top to bottom, and stack them so that you now have 14 smaller sheets of pastry. Grease an oven tray measuring 25 cm x 25 cm with butter and line it with one sheet. Brush again, place another phyllo sheet and repeat until you have finished seven sheets, but do not brush the top sheet. Turn the nut-and-meat filling into a pâté and using a wet spoon, press the filling down evenly all the way to the edges of the pastry. Place another sheet of filo on top, brush with butter, then repeat the process with the remaining six pastries. Press down well with your hands, and cut diagonally from top left to bottom right at 4cm intervals, and again from top right to bottom left, then gently brush the top with any remaining butter (you may need to re-melt it).

Bake for an hour, until golden brown, then remove from the oven and drizzle the syrup over the top evenly. Sprinkle the reserved crushed pistachios and leave to cool in the tray. To serve, slice the baklava again, then remove the baklava onto a large platter or smaller individual plates.

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