Dining

Cookie Monster

Baklava, from Tunisia to New York's finest tables

Many cuisines lay claim to baklava, the flaky nut-and-syrup-filled cookies.

But at New York City's Boulud Sud, the bite-size dessert has a very specific geographic anchor: Tunisia.

The recipe is one that pastry chef and Tunisia native Ghaya Oliveira grew up preparing with her mother. Over the course of her career in pastry, Oliveira has incorporated a wealth of influence into her whimsical desserts--Sicilian-inspired cassata, Provençal almond cakes and more. But her baklava, which appears in a trio of Mediterranean sweets, is classic and true to her mother's version.

"Traditionally, the baklava is cut into small bites because the nuts are so expensive," she says. But there's nothing small about the flavor: We watched in disbelief as she prepared a huge bowl of pistachios and a simmering pot of syrup, all for a single sheet of cookies. But when we tried the final product--rich and dense, nutty and sweet--we stopped our doubting.

To make these unique meal enders at home, just follow this step-by-step slide show, which features Ghaya.

And be sure to cut the baklava into small pieces; if you're like us, you'll want each batch to last as long as possible.

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