Nutella Chocolate Chip Baklava
This is not traditional baklava and I’m sure a Greek grandmother somewhere is cursing me.
But I sure was happy.
This is the first time I’ve ever made baklava and it was a bucket list item I can happily check off. It clearly isn’t traditional baklava with nuts layered in between buttered sheets phyllo dough because I don’t like nuts in my sweets. I only tolerate them in traditional baklava because something about those sweet, flaky layers, drenched in honey syrup are irresistible.
Instead, chocolate chips and Nutella are layered in between buttered sheets of phyllo dough. Any time I can remove nuts from baked goods and in the process add chocolate in two ways to an otherwise chocolate-less recipe, I’m happy. It also happens to be World Nutella Day today.
Making this was quite easy even if you’ve never done it before. That said, it’s easy, but it sure is messy. But it only lasts about ten minutes and then you bake it. In the meantime, your countertop and your hands will be coated in melted butter and Nutella. There are worse things.
I was not a perfectionist with this. If you would like to see perfectionism, look at Ree’s baklava-making tutorial. My theory is that there’s so much butter and chocolate involved and it’s all going to melt together anyway, and you make giant slash marks in it before baking it, so cares if it’s not perfect going into the pan.
The first thing you need is pyllo dough. Look for it in the freezer case near pie crusts and puff pastry. My grocery store sold the store-brand in a one-pound box for $3.99. Inside you’ll find large squares of tissue-paper thin dough. I wouldn’t even call it dough. I would call it membrane-thin sheets that are prone to tearing which is why perfectionism goals must be tossed out the window.
Take a scissors and cut the stack in half horizontally. You’ll only use one stack and possibly a few pieces from the second. Some people cover the dough they’re working with with a damp towel, but I didn’t. The whole project took 10 minutes, not enough time for it to dry out. If you’re pokey, cover it or it will harden and crack.
The phyllo is placed in a 9-by-9-inch pan in layers and although you could trim it to exactly the size of the pan, I didn’t bother. It’s so thin that you can just fold it over if you have an awkward edge or flap, and that little bit of fold-over doens’t matter. It’s mandatory to line your pan with aluminum foil, leaving overhang.
Begin by placing one-and-a-half-sticks of butter in a glass measuring cup or microwave-safe bowl and melt it. A measuring cup is handier because you can drizzle the butter into the pan rather than dabbing from cup to pan, over and over, with a pastry brush. I would estimate that one stick actually made it into my pan. The other half-stick was lost to the counter, the pastry brush, and my hands. They were so soft after I got done making this.
Take two sheets of dough as a pair, and with a pastry brush, brush butter on one side and then quickly slap the pair into the pan, buttered-side-down. Brush the top with butter once they’re in the pan. Then add 2 more sheets, brush with butter. Add 2 more sheets, brush with butter. Now you have 6 sheets in the pan. This builds a nice buttery base that can now stand up to a ridiculous amount of chocolate.
When layering the sheets into the pan, fold over flaps and pieces as needed to get them to fit. You’ll see when you’re making it that it’s slippery, buttery, flimsy, and just fold edges over as necessary. If you melted your butter in a measuring cup, lightly drizzling it onto sheets is a timesaver here. Then just smooth it out with the pastry brush.
When making the following layers, the exactly ordering of the Nutella, butter, chocolate chips, and phyllo sheets isn’t highly precise. Do you best to just get them in the pan, and things will likely be just fine. For the Nutella, I used one 13-ounce jar, the standard smaller size, and about one-third of a second jar; a bit over 2 cups total. I’d buy two jars for this project unless you purchase a jumbo jar. And I used about one cup semi-sweet chocolate chips.
To the buttery 6-layer base you’ve built, drizzle about one-quarter cup of Nutella straight from the jar, smoothing and spreading it with a knife. It’s better to keep bald patches than to rip the phyllo. If the Nutella isn’t spreading easily, microwave the jar for 10 seconds to help soften it for the next round.
Sprinkle about one-quarter cup chocolate chips over the Nutella. Then place two pieces of dough on top. Brush with butter.
Drizzle about 1/4 cup Nutella over the phyllo, spreading it gently with a knife to evenly distribute it. Sprinkle with about 1/4 cup chocolate chips. Add 2 more sheets of phyllo. Brush with butter.
Add two more sheets of phyllo, drizzle 1/4 cup Nutella, sprinkle 1/4 cup chocolate chips. Top with two sheets of phyllo. Brush with butter.
Add two more sheets of phyllo, drizzle 1/4 cup Nutella, sprinkle 1/4 cup chocolate chips. Top with two sheets of phyllo. Brush with butter.
Keep repeating until you’ve used up your stack of dough, or are nearing the top of the pan. The final 6 layers at the top should be butter-only layers, just like when you made the crust. Six sheets, with butter in between them in 3 places. You may need to use a few pieces of dough from the second stack of phyllo. I used 4 sheets from the second stack.
Using a very sharp knife, slice the phyllo diagonally, creating diamond shapes, 6 rows-by-6 rows. Starting at a corner, make a long slice, clear down to the opposite corner. That’s the mid-line. Then slice 3 rows on each side of it, for a total of 6 rows. After you get 6 rows, rotate the pan 180-degrees and do the same thing to create diamond shapes. Or slice into basic rectangles or another shape.
Take your time and make sure to really slice through all the layers. Remember there’s aluminum foil at the bottom and not ripping through it is best but I’d rather have ripped foil underneath than improperly sliced layers. It feels so wrong to hack into this masterpiece you artfully layered together, but deep slice-marks are critical.
Bake your three-pound pan of heaven at 350F for 25 to 35 minutes, or just until the top is golden. For me this was 28-29 minutes. I was standing in the kitchen the whole time watching it; mostly because I was cleaning up all the butter and Nutella that was everywhere.
While the baklava bakes, make the honey-sugar syrup. Traditionally, this is made on the stove, but there is nothing traditional here, so I made it in the microwave. Combine 1 cup of water, 1 cup of sugar, and 1/2-cup of honey in a large measuring cup or microwave safe bowl and stir. Heat it until it just beings to boil and then set it aside. For me this happened at 3 minutes, 11 seconds. Stand and watch it because you don’t want this molten sugar bubbling up all over your microwave.
After the baklava comes out of the oven, slowly pour the syrup over it. It looks like you’re flooding it, and along as you’re not overflowing the pan, you’re fine. Take short breaks if needed, giving it a chance to soak in. After you get the syrup poured over, go back over your slice-marks, and re-slice. Really get in there and slice it well. This helps the syrup absorb and will make slicing the baklava later on a breeze.
The photo below was about 10 minutes after I poured the syrup in. At one point, all the pieces were fully submerged and the syrup came up quite high up in the pan, but within 10 minutes, there was only some pooling.
Let the pan stand, uncovered, for at least four hours, or overnight. I poured the syrup over at about 11pm, left it uncovered, and didn’t even touch it until noon the next day.
Miraculously, more than 80% or more of the syrup soaked in. The other bit is lost to the bottom of the pan, the foil, countertop, cutting board, and your hands. Holy sticky. As the days passed, the syrup continued to soak in, or evaporate, and the pooling a week later has disappeared with few pieces of baklava we have leftover. It’s a dessert that has gotten better with age.
To say this is decadent is an understatement. There is no reason to make this unless you want to go up a pants size or three or because you’re a food blogger and get a crazy idea and just can’t let it go until you try it.
That said, it’s the best thing I’ve made in ages. It’s actually not as sweet as you may think and in many respects, it has less of the overall tooth-piercing sweetness that traditional baklava can have. I mean yes, it’s super sweet; all baklava is. But the chocolate-hazelnut spread mitigates the sweetness a bit. There’s a noticeable flavor distinction between the chocolate-hazelnut flavor from the Nutella and the semi-sweet chocolate chips. Both chocolate taste sensations are lovely, and both are appreciated.
It’s rich, indulgent, comforting, and full of fat, making it taste so decadent and deeply satisfying. It packs so much of a dense punch that you really only need a small bit to feel totally satisfied and I’m one of those people who can eat some incredibly rich desserts, no problem. With this, I’m content after one piece, one little square. In that sense, I’d rather have one amazing square of baklava than like ten other ‘low-fat’ or diet-ish things, and never feel satisfied from any of them.
The phyllo dough bakes up chewy, soft, tender, and not at all crispy. Between the syrup flood, melted butter and Nutella that ooze in every bite, there’s an almost squishy mouthfeel. The chocolate chips don’t quite melt, and add texture to an otherwise squishy and chewy dessert. TTe sugar-honey syrup bathes everything in a warm, glistening, sweet glow.
If you’ve ever wanted to make baklava, do it. You could try this with peanut butter like Dorothy did, or try Cookie Butter or Biscoff, almond butter, or whatever spread you like. Add nuts, too, if you like them; or white chocolate, peanut butter or cinnamon chips. Phyllo dough is a blank canvas, ripe for layering.
I made a big chocolate mess with my blank canvas.
Nutella Chocolate Chip Baklava
I’ve always wanted to make baklava and this is my spin on traditional baklava. There are no nuts in this version, and instead, plenty of chocolate. In between flaky, buttery delicate layers of phyllo are thick smears of Nutella. Morsels of chocolate chips are sprinkled in and lend a firmer texture to an otherwise smooth, soft, and buttery-squishy treat. Even if you’ve never made Baklava before, you can tackle this one in minutes. Simply stacking layers of storebought dough, brushing them with butter, Nutella, and sprinkling on chocolate chips is all that’s necessary. After baking, the baklava is drenched in a sugar-honey syrup. The baklava is extremely rich and decadent, sweet, and intensely chocolaty. Between the melted butter, Nutella, melted chocolate chips, and the sugar-honey syrup, it’s one saucy, sticky, and extremely satisfying dessert. Note that although the active prep and baking time can be tackled in under an hour, the baklava must remained uncovered for at least 4 hours, or overnight, so plan accordingly.
- 1-pound box phyllo dough, about 18 large sheets
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), melted
- 2 cups Nutella
- 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup honey
- Notes before beginning – Read the blog post in entirety in addition to what’s included in the recipe section. I kept this shorter and more succinct, with greater explanations in the body of the blog post.
- When making this recipe, precision is not required; don’t obsess or try to make it perfect. It’s slippery, messy, and just do the best you can. Fold over the edges of phyllo dough as if creasing a piece of paper as needed to get phyllo to fit in the pan. With the butter, you can brush it with a pastry brush from cup to pan, or simply drizzle a tiny bit at a time straight from the measuring cup right into the pan to save time, then spread it around with the brush. With the Nutella, drizzling it straight from the jar and eyeballing it is what I did; microwave jar of Nutella for 10 seconds to help it drizzle easier if necessary.
- Begin by lining a 9-by-9-inch pan with aluminum foil; set aside. Open box of phyllo dough and using a scissors, cut the stack in half horizontally, creating two piles. Wrap one pile back up, you likely won’t use it. The goal is to have the dough is approximately the same size as the pan, however it will still be a bit larger and this okay.
- In a glass measuring cup (easier) or microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter, about 1 minute on high power. Take 2 sheets of phyllo holding them as a pair, and brush one side with butter. Put the sheets in the pan, buttered side down. Brush the top of the sheets with butter. Add 2 more sheets as a pair and brush the top with butter. Add 2 more sheets and brush the top with butter. You now have 6 sheets in the pan, with layers of butter between them.
- Drizzle about 1/4 cup Nutella over the phyllo, spreading it gently with a knife to evenly distribute it. If it’s not spreading easily, microwave the jar of Nutella for 10 seconds, which will help soften it for the next round. It’s better to keep bald patches than to rip the phyllo.
- Sprinkle with about 1/4 cup chocolate chips. Add 2 more sheets of phyllo. Brush with butter.
- Add two more sheets of phyllo, drizzle 1/4 cup Nutella, sprinkle 1/4 cup chocolate chips. Top with two sheets of phyllo. Brush with butter.
- Keep repeating until you’ve used up your stack of dough, or are nearing the top of the pan.
- The final 6 layers at the top should be butter-only layers, just like when you made the crust. Six sheets, with butter in between them in 3 places. You may need to use a few pieces of dough from the second stack of phyllo. I used 4 sheets from the second stack.
- Using a very sharp knife, slice the phyllo diagonally, creating diamond shapes, 6 rows-by-6 rows. Starting at a corner, make a long slice, clear down to the opposite corner. That’s the mid-line. Then slice in 3 rows on each side of it, for a total of 6 rows. After you get 6 rows, rotate the pan 180-degrees and do the same thing to create diamond shapes. Or slice into basic rectangles or preferred shape. Take your time and make sure to really slice through all the layers because these slice-marks are important.
- Bake at 350F for 25 to 35 minutes, or just until the top is golden. For me this was at 28-29 minutes. I was stood in the kitchen the whole time watching it and encourage you to not stray far and while the baklava bakes, make the sugar-honey syrup.
- Combine water, sugar, and honey in a large measuring cup or microwave-safe bowl and stir. Heat it until it just beings to boil and power off the microwave. For me this happened at just over 3 minutes, but stand and watch it because you don’t want this boiling over in your microwave; set it aside. Alternatively you can bring this to a boil on the stovetop but I prefer the microwave.
- After the baklava comes out of the oven, slowly pour the syrup over it. As long as you’re not overflowing your pan, you’re fine; take short breaks to allow it to soak in as necessary. After syrup has all been poured, go back over your slice-marks, and re-slice. Really get in there and slice it well because this helps the syrup absorb and will aid in slicing and serving the baklava later.
- Let the pan stand, uncovered, for at least four hours, or overnight. I didn’t touch my pan for about 14 hours and 80%+ of the syrup soaked in. The remaining is lost to the bottom of the pan, the foil, cutting board, countertop, or your hands. Store baklava in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 10 days. As the days passed, the syrup continued to soak in or evaporate, and the pooling mostly disappeared. I find the baklava gets better with time.
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Do you like baklava or have you ever made it?
Fan of Nutella? Having any to celebrate World Nutella Day?
Any recipes you’ve always wanted to try or check off your personal bucket list?