Vegan baklava cigars
Vegan baklava cigars
Baklava is one of these things that I did not use to like until I came of age. When my gran brought it back from one of her travels to Turkey when I was young, I pronounced it ‘too sweet’ (can you believe it?) while shoving a handful of nasty, perfumed, artificially-coloured, heart-shaped sweets into my face. Classy, eh? 🙂
When I moved to London, I got to taste this Middle-Eastern treat again and fell in love with it immediately. I was lucky enough to live near one of the most famous baklava destinations and going out for a piece of baklava and an espresso had become a weekend ritual for me and my then boyfriend.
I have to agree with my younger self, on its own baklava may send your taste buds into a sensory overload, but when paired with strong, black coffee it really hits the spot. Baklava is very popular in Greece too and if not for the fact that I’m vegan, I would be tempted to simply buy it from time to time. Unfortunately, as most baklava contains a prolific amount of butter (and often honey), I now make my own when the craving strikes.
It’s really quite easy to make so please don’t be intimidated. Plus, even though these vegan baklava cigars obviously aren’t a health food, they are way healthier than traditional baklava (yet just as indulgent). I used a small amount of mild olive oil instead of melted butter and maple syrup instead of sugar and honey. Learning from my previous attempts, I brushed every pastry sheet with only a small amount of oil to get a crispy and grease-free end result and I’m pleased to say that all four of my taste testers made loads of approving noises during consumption so I’m confident you’ll love them too.
- ¾ cup / 180 ml freshly squeezed orange juice (or water + lemon juice to taste)
- ¼ cup / 60 ml maple syrup
- ½ vanilla bean, seeds scraped
- 1 cup / approx. 130 g almonds
- 1 cup / approx. 100 g walnuts
- zest of 1 lemon
- zest of 1-2 oranges
- 1½ tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp fine sea salt
- ¼ cup + 1 tbsp / 75 ml maple syrup
- 3 vegan filo pastry sheets (mine were 35 x 46 cm / 14 x 18 “), thawed*
- 2 tbsp mild olive oil
- 1 tbsp shelled pistachios, very finely chopped
- Put strained orange juice, maple syrup and vanilla bean (if using) into a small pot and gently bring to the boil. Simmer on a very low heat until you get a thin syrup that coats the back of a spoon. Set aside to cool.
- Grind nuts for the filling in a food processor until you get a coarse crumb. You can use any nuts you like, I went for a mixture of almonds and walnuts.
- Place ground nuts in a bowl with salt, cinnamon, lemon and orange zest. Mix all the dry ingredients well and add maple syrup to bind.
- Prepare a baking tin by brushing it with a small amount of olive oil. Wet two clean kitchen towels and wring them both out really well.
- If you want your cigars to look identical, it’s a good idea to weigh all the filling and then divide it into 6 equal portions.
- Open a thawed packet of filo, gently remove one sheet and cover the remaining sheets with a piece of cling film and a damp kitchen towel to prevent the pastry from drying out. Filo tears really easily so you need to be very gentle with it and if it has small tears in it, it’s still okay to use but make sure they are not located at the beginning of your rolls.
- Cut the first sheet in half along the widest edge. Place one half in front of you with the longer edge perpendicular to you (with the shorter edge facing you). Put the other half with the whole sheets, under a damp towel.
- Lightly dip a pastry brush in olive oil and brush the pastry with it. Go easy on the amount of oil as you don’t want the cigars to be oily, but make sure you cover the entire sheet with light brush strokes.
- Place about 2 generous tablespoons of the filling at the bottom of the oiled sheet leaving a 1 inch / 2.5 cm margin at the bottom and on the sides of the sheet.
- Mould the filling with your hands (it should be sticking together easily) into a long sausage. Start rolling the cigar by folding the bottom margin over the filling, then fold the sides in (like you would with a burrito) and finally roll the cigar tightly around the filling. Apply a little bit more oil to seal the roll. Place it in a greased tin, seam down. Cover with the second damp kitchen towel while you roll the remaining cigars.
- Repeat the last 3 steps with the remaining 2.5 sheets. If you want to use up the entire roll of pastry, you could fold each sheet in half and use a double layer of pastry for each cigar.
- Pre-heat the oven to 180º C / 355º F.
- Place the cigars in the tin snugly. Using a sharp knife cut each cigar into 2, 3 or even 4 (depending how big you want them) pieces. Brush the tops with a small amount of oil and bake for about 25 minutes, or until golden brown.
- As soon as the cigars are ready, brush them with cold (that’s important as otherwise they’ll end up soggy) syrup. Sprinkle with finely chopped pistachios. If you made more than you are able to eat, just freeze the remainder.
I am sorry about your allergies - that must be challenging. I have not tried with rice paper so I cannot advise, but there is a gluten-free phyllo pastry available here in the UK, for example. Not sure where you are based, but you may be able to find it too. Good luck! Ania
What you see in the video is actually half of the sheet already - we didn't show the cutting in the video as it's not that relevant. I all depends on how big your pastry sheets are - we used Greek sheets and they were quite big: 35 x 46 cm / 14 x 18. Hope this helps! x Ania
I don't know where you live, but here (in the UK) you can find them in every supermarket and they are not even labelled as vegan, but when you look at the ingredients list they are! It's because butter is more expensive than vegetable fats and unless something is marketed as using butter, most often it does not. Good luck! Ania
Can I use carton orange juice?
I'm so chuffed to hear that, thanks for letting me know. x Ania
How long can you keep the cigars for?
Fantastic recipe and really made easy something I thought was so super complicated to make, and vegan to boot!
Sorry, I would love to be able to help but I've not made homemade phyllo yet, I always use shop-bought. Ania
Could I make myself the pastry filo?
Because it's difficult to find the filo without sugar and trans fats..
I am not sure if it will work - I mean, even phyllo pastry itself contains a fair amount of it. You are welcome to try, but I'm not sure it will work. Ania
I'm not sure, my gut feeling is that you would end up with dry phyllo. I guess it's worth a shot on a small sample perhaps? Ania
Yes, I meant as soon as they come out of the oven. Hope that helps! Ania
I *think* so although I haven't tried myself. Two suggestions I have is to taste the filling for sweetness as I think honey is possibly a bit less sweet than maple syrup. And it may also be a good idea to dilute the honey that goes into the filling with a tiny splash of water - it may not be necessary, but it might help distributing it around. Hope that helps! Ania
Je vous découvre aujourd'hui et j'en suis très contente !!!! Que des très bonnes choses que je vais pouvoir cuisiner!!!! Graçe à vous ! Merci d'avance. Je viens de réaliser les baklavas,et je dois dire que c'est une pure merveille !!!! Trop trop bon... Merci beaucoup .Bon maintenant je dois aller faire les courses pour pouvoir essayer pleins de bonnes choses notemment les cinnamons rolls à la datte.Merveilleuse découverte....
I haven't had baclava for years (mainly because of all the sugar) so I can't wait to try this one out x
Big thanks x
Aw, that's so nice to hear, thank you! Hope you'll like it! Ania
These look wonderful - I will definitely be trying these at the weekend.
Thank you for a gorgeous recipe.
A tak na serio: dzięki za ten przepis, chętnie go przetłumaczę i zrobię, też mam ochotę na bez-masłową i mniej słodką wersję baklawy. Pozdrawiam po sąsiedzku z kraju baklawy czyli Turcji :)