Pop quiz: Can you guess what this is?
I know the title of this post already gave it away.  It's baklava!  I'm super excited about this for a plethora of reasons, but mostly because of two things: 1) It was my first time making it so it was my Christmas-challenge, and most importantly 2) I get to eat it.

Baklava is a holiday tradition in our house.  I don't know why.  There are so many ways to make baklava, but nobody makes it like mom, so I used her tried-and-true recipe. Here is the cast of characters:

1 lb walnuts, fillo pastry, lemon, lots o' butter, cinnamon and cloves.  Not pictured: sugar. 

Baklava is quite simple, really.  Dough, butter, dough, butter, dough, butter, you see the pattern. 

Except for three layers of the walnut/sugar/spice mixture.

It took us a long time to figure out how to cut it into diamond shapes.  We even had to get out a pen and paper to draw it out. 

Hello, beautiful

It might be the most beautiful thing I've laid my eyes on this year besides my new baby.   

It turned out fantastic, just like mom makes it.  We're giving away some to friends, but I made it clear to Reuben that I plan on eating most of it myself.  He can have some since he helped, of course (and the fact that I can't hide it from him).  There's nothing like the holidays to bring out the selfishness in me. Bah humbug.

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