I’ve loved food all my life. All sorts, all varieties, from the most creative of dishes to simple, casual favorites that remind me of time around the counter with my mother.
So, imagine my surprise – and frustration! – in finding out I have several food intolerances this past year. Additionally, imagine my horror when I found that dairy, egg and sugar were the primary culprits to my eating woes. Do not tell this to a chef who considers feta a primary food group!
Once I gathered my senses and knew that a change in my diet needed to be in order, I’ve been trying hard to come up with more vegan – or dairy/egg free dishes that offer me the same joy with less of the discomfort and pain.
Many dishes can be altered slightly to allow for a dairy free option – but adjusting to no sugar has been a challenge. Throughout my research, I found that monk fruit is a delightful alternative. It looks similar to sugar and has a fruitier taste, which is great for baking! But would this really hold true to some of my most favorite Greek twists on popular favorites like pumpkin-based desserts?
With fall in the air and comfort food on the rise, I’ve been adjusting and concocting some surprisingly fun fall favorites, including my Pumpkin Baklava. It’s a warm, light dessert that can be easily prepped and baked ahead of time. You can even freeze it and pull out it out when you need a quick dessert for friends or family.
The combination of the pumpkin and the texture of walnuts with the spices of fall is delightful. Add in the twist of monk fruit for white sugar and you’re on your way to cleaner eating while maintain a happy tummy! Your house will smell like fall and your taste buds will be blast with fall flavors.
To the cooked or canned pumpkin, add:
Set pumpkin mixture aside.
In a separate bowl, prepare the walnut filling by first bringing ½ cup water, 1 T cinnamon, 1 T monk fruit (or white sugar) and 1tsp vanilla to a boil.
Then, add 2 cups chopped walnuts, stirring until it becomes like a paste.
Also set this aside in a bowl next to the pumpkin puree.
It’s time to prepare your phyllo and “glue” to hold your dessert together.
In a third dish, add ½ cup canola oil plus 1T maple syrup.
Open one package of phyllo dough that has been thawed. Depending on the brand there is usually 20-22 sheets in a package. The following instructions are for four rolled phyllo logs of 5 sheets each.
Starting with the first sheet, use a pastry brush to brush on the oil/syrup glue. Layer this phyllo 4 more times with a total of 5 sheets of oiled phyllo.
Then, with the long side facing you, spread a few spoonfuls of the pumpkin mixture down the length of the phyllo, going up about 3 inches.
Above the pumpkin mixture, now spread (gently!) a few spoonfuls of the walnut filling. You will have made two long stripes of orange and brown down the length of your dough.
With the remaining open space above the walnut filling, use your pastry brush to place a little more oil/syrup “glue” down the length.
Roll the dough in log form from the base to cover the pumpkin, then the walnut ending with the oil which will seal the phyllo roll together. Continue making 3 more rolls, oiling the outside once it is rolled up.
From here, you can freeze it and bake at a later time.
Or, to finish:
Score the top of your phyllo log, place it on a lined baking sheet.
Bake at 350 until light brown, approximately 35 minutes. When removed from the oven, drizzle on maple syrup direct from the bottle, sprinkle with cinnamon. Cut and serve.