Cream-Filled Baklava

"From "An Armenian Evening", Good Food Magazine, October 1986. Prep time does not include chilling time. Posted for ZWT 4."
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  • Stir cream, milk, cornstarch, and 2 T. sugar together in medium saucepan until smooth. Cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat until thickened and boiling, 3-4 minutes. Boil 1 minute, then remove from heat. Let stand 30 minutes to cool. Place piece of plastic wrap directly on surface and refrigerate at least 1 hour.
  • Heat oven to 350 degrees. Brush a little melted butter lightly over bottom and sides of 9-inch square baking pan.
  • Cut phyllo crosswise in half. Cover half the sheets with lightly dampened kitchen towel and set aside. Place 1 phyllo sheet in cake pan and fold over 1 edge to make it fit. Brush lightly with butter. Repeat layering and buttering remaining half of phyllo sheets.
  • Spoon filling onto phyllo and spread evenly almost to edge. Top with reserved phyllo, folding edges and brushing with butter as before. Refrigerate 15 minutes.
  • Using sharp knife, score top in diamond pattern, making cuts 2 inches apart and 1/4-inch deep or almost to filling. Brush top of phyllo with remaining butter.
  • Bake baklava until top is crisp, golden, and puffed, about 35 minutes. Transfer to wire rack to cool.
  • Heat 1/2 cup sugar and 1/4 cup water in small saucepan to boiling. Stir in lemon juice and simmer 5 minutes. Let cool slightly, then pour over still-warm baklava. Let cool completely. Cut into diamonds and arrange on serving platter.

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I didn't start cooking until my early 20's, even though I come from a family of accomplished and admired home cooks. While I grew up watching my Italian grandmother in the kitchen, I remained uninterested in trying anything on my own. As a young lady, I was known for being particularly ignorant in the kitchen, with no idea how to even make a hot dog! All this changed, however, when I got engaged. I realized it was time to let my inherent talents out of the bag. At the time, the New York Times had a weekly column called The 60-Minute Gourmet by Pierre Franey. Each week, I would follow these recipes diligently, and taught myself to cook that way. From there, I began to read cookbooks and consult with relatives on family recipes. At my ripe old age now, I feel I know enough to put together a very pleasing meal and have become accomplished in my own right. Having an Irish father and an Italian mother, I'm glad I inherited the cooking gene (and the drinking one too!). One thing I have learned is that simpler is always better! I always believe cooking fills a need to nurture and show love. After being widowed fairly young and living alone with my dog and cats, I stopped cooking for awhile, since I really had no one to cook for. I made care packages for my grown son occasionally, and like to cook weekly for my boyfriend, so I feel like I am truly back in the saddle!!
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