Thaw phyllo dough by package instructions, you’ll need both rolls as most packages have two rolls separately packaged.
Lightly spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray.
Unfold the sheet to a 20x26 size and cut in half making 2 9(ish)x13 portions. You can trim one stack at a time (or less) then cover with a damp towel to keep from drying out.
In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, honey, lemon juice, vanilla and water. Bring to a low simmer over medium heat while continually stirring. The trick is allowing the sugar to dissolves without burning. If it hasn’t dissolved, but it getting super thick, add 1 tablespoons water.
After it dissolves, reduce to the lowest heat possible and allow to summer for 15 minutes without stirring at all.
Remove from heat, set aside and let honey sauce cool. Keep at room temperature until ready to pour. It should thicken and be like syrup.
Assemble the Baklava:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Pulse walnuts and pecans in a food processor until finely chopped. Alternately, you can do this by hand, but in a food processor it only takes about 10-15 pulses.
Combine chopped nuts with ground cinnamon and nutmeg.
Place 10 phyllo sheets into baking pan one at a time, brushing each sheet with melted butter. This is a little time consuming and don’t be worried if the sheets tear. After they are all assembled and cut, no one will know. Keep remaining phyllo covered with a damp towel to prevent drying.
Top the first layer with ¾ cup nut mixture (about 1/5). Top with 5 sheets phyllo dough. Repeat this 4 more times ending with another 10 sheets of phyllo dough on top, making sure to baste with butter between each layer of phyllo dough. The end result is:10 phyllo sheets, 3/4 cup nuts 5 phyllo sheets, 3/4 cup nuts 5 phyllo sheets, 3/4 cup nuts 5 phyllo sheets, 3/4 cup nuts 5 phyllo sheets, 3/4 cup nuts 10 buttered phyllo sheets
The trick to perfect baklava is to cut it before you bake it rather than waiting until after. If you cut it after, the pastry will crumble and you’ll lose half of it to the process. Cut baklava into 1 ½ inch strips, then cut diagonally to form diamond shapes.
Bake 1 hour and 10 minutes or until tops are golden brown. If it looks to be browning too fast, cover the top loosely with a sheet of aluminum foil.
Remove from oven and pour honey topping over while still hot. It will seep into all the nooks and crannies. Then top with remaining chopped walnuts while still tacky.
Let baklava cool completely, uncovered and at room temperature for a minimum of 4 hours, but maximum of 12 before serving.
After honey topping has set, top with a light sprinkle of fleur de sel, which is totally optional. I find salt brings out the rest of the flavors.
Store covered at room temperature. If making ahead, top with a damp (NOT WET) tea towel to keep moist. Baklava is best served within 1-2 days of baking.
If you've tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was in the comments or ratings!
You can top your baklava with melted milk chocolate, white chocolate or a combination of both.To freeze: You can freeze baklava for up to 3 months by tightly wrapping the dish in several layers of plastic wrap and placing into the freezer. To thaw, sit at room temperature for several hours. Do not microwave or reheat in the heat.