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Hi Bold Bakers!
Today’s delicious Chocolate Baklava recipe was written by Dee, one of our Bold Baking Network experts, founder of One Sarcastic Baker, and author of a lovely recently-released Baking Science cookbook (buy it here).
Fall is here, and that means it’s officially the time of year to celebrate the Jewish New Year — also known as Rosh Hashanah.
Rosh Hashanah, which means “head of the year,” is traditionally celebrated with symbolism, like eating apples dipped in honey so that the upcoming year will be fruitful, like the apple tree in the fall, and as sweet as honey.
Typically, honey cake and apple desserts take the lead as the iconic Rosh Hashanah recipes, but I decided to twist the traditions a bit with this Chocolate Baklava. I figured that the nuts, like the apples, grow on trees, and the chocolate is also sweet, and this recipe would be an appropriate way to celebrate the holiday.
What Is Chocolate Baklava?
Baklava is a Middle Eastern/Mediterranean dessert made by layering filo dough with grounded nuts and spices, then soaking it with sweet syrup.
There are countless Baklava recipes, and you may already have your favorite. Some call for walnuts and cinnamon, while others for pistachios, cloves, or cardamom. The options are unlimited!
Chocolate Baklava is another version of this iconic dessert, and it calls for chopped chocolate in addition to nuts and spices.
Ingredients You’ll Need To Make Chocolate Baklava
Here is a list of the key ingredients; the complete list of ingredients, including measurements, you can find below on the recipe card.
- Fillo sheets, the recipe calls for 25 sheets. A box of store-bought filo contains about 40 sheets.
- Hazelnuts and almonds were my choices of nuts mostly because I love the combination of hazelnuts, almonds, and chocolate. You can use your favorite nuts, such as pistachios, walnuts, or pecans.
- Semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped. Any dark chocolate between 56-72% would be a good option. Milk chocolate or white chocolate might be too sweet for this recipe.
- Granulated sugar. Most recipes do not add sugar to the filling, but I decided to add a ¼ cup. The sugar will dissolve and spread between the nuts and chocolate during baking. As it sets during cooling, it will also help with the setting of the filling.
- Melted butter. Use unsalted, and if you wish this dessert to be Parve (non-dairy), use vegan butter. Do not substitute with oil — it will not taste good.
- Cinnamon and cinnamon stick. The cinnamon stick is for the syrup; feel free to substitute it with your favorite spices.
- Honey provides flavor, sweetness, and a smooth, sticky texture to the syrup.
- Orange peel. I love the combination of cinnamon, orange, and chocolate with all the crunchy nuts.
Dee’s Pro Chef Notes For Making The Perfect Chocolate Baklava
- Let the syrup chill before soaking the baklava. Start this recipe by making the syrup, so it will have time to cool off. Alternatively, you can make the syrup up to 7 days ahead and store it in the refrigerator.
- When brushing the butter onto the filo, use very gentle strokes. The dough is fragile and can break easily, so pay attention when you brush!
- Chop the chocolate as fine as you can for even distribution.
- Slice the baklava before baking it. Unbaked, the dough is soft and easy to slice. You don’t have to cut all the way through, but, make sure to make the insertions marks with a knife.
- Do not over-process the nuts in the food processor; otherwise, they will end up oily and sticky.
- Keep in mind that it takes time for the baklava to cool, so it is best to bake it the night before you plan on serving it.
Tips For Working With Filo
- Thaw the filo in the refrigerator, not at room temperature. If thawed improperly, the sheets stick together and are a sticky mess.
- Place the filo between two kitchen towels and cover it if you are stepping away; the filo will dry or absorb moisture quickly when exposed to the air.
- Have the filo next to your baking pan, and, holding the two corners closest to you, lift it gently. Once you hold the dough, gently place it in the pan. I like to layer it like putting a blanket over a bed by giving it a gentle wave to spread it evenly.
- Roll the leftover sheets back into their original plastic and box, then store them in the fridge or freezer.
How To Store Chocolate Baklava
You can store homemade Chocolate Baklava at room temperature for up to 5 days or in the freezer wrapped with plastic for up to 2 months.
Chocolate Baklava Trouble Shooting And FAQ:
Can I make vegan chocolate baklava?
To make vegan chocolate baklava, substitute the butter with vegan butter and your favorite vegan chocolate.
Why is my baklava soggy?
Soaking it with syrup that is still warm will make your filo soggy. It is best to make the syrup in advance before pouring it over the baklava.
Why is my baklava filling so crumbly?
That is how baklava is! I would not worry about it; just be sure you give your baklava the proper time to chill and set.
Can I make this recipe without chocolate?
Yes, baklava has many variations. Replace the chocolate with any nuts you would like.
Can I freeze chocolate baklava?
Yes! Wrap your homemade baklava into individual portions using plastic wrap, and free for up to 2 months.
Can I reduce the amount of sugar in this baklava recipe?
Yes, but I would not recommend it; the sugar helps keep the baklava together. Also, baklava is famously known as a very sweet dessert!
Buy Dee’s Cookbook
If you’re into baking science, look no further than Dee’s cookbook. You can buy it right here.
The Bold Baking Network
Bigger Bolder Baking is thrilled to introduce you to the Bold Baking Network, a team of talented chefs, creators, and experts looking to teach, entertain and help you on your baking journey. Here are more articles from our amazing collaborators.
Homemade Chocolate Baklava
For the Syrup
- 1 ½ cups (360 ml/12 fl oz) water
- ¾ cup (150 g/5 oz) granulated sugar
- ¾ cup (180 ml/6 fl oz) honey
- Orange peel from one orange
- One cinnamon stick
For the Filling
- 3 ½ cups (450 g/16 oz) roasted hazelnuts
- 2 cups (140 g/5 oz) sliced toasted almonds
- 2 cups (340 g/12 oz) chopped semi-sweet chocolate
- ¼ cup (50 g/2 oz) granulated sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup (150 g/5 oz) unsalted butter, melted
- 25 sheets of filo dough
Make the Syrup
- In a large pan, pour the water, sugar, and honey, then add the orange peel and cinnamon stick.
- Bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.
- Remove from the heat, allow to cool for about 20 minutes, then pour into a large measuring cup and refrigerate.
Make the Baklava
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
- Process the hazelnuts and almonds in a food processor until finely ground — place in a large mixing bowl and mix in the chopped chocolate.
- Add the sugar, cinnamon, and salt, and use a large spoon to mix. Set aside.
- Brush the bottom of one 9x13-inch baking dish with the melted butter, then line a filo sheet over it. Brush the filo with butter, then layer another sheet over it. Repeat until you have five sheets layered.
- Evenly sprinkle ¼ of the nuts mixture over the buttered filo and repeat the same process with the remaining filo and nut mixture.
- Once you have layered the last filo, brush it with butter and use a sharp knife to cut the cake into three vertical and four horizontal positions—a total of 12 squares.
- Cut each square into two triangles, then brush the cracks with butter.
- Bake for 45 to 50 minutes until the filo is golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and immediately soak it with the chilled syrup.
- Allow to cool to room temperature before slicing. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days, in the refrigerator for 5 days, or in the freezer for up to 30 days.