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Ready-to-use minced meat, marzipan, and filo sheets make this a relatively faff-free party dessert

As much as I love cooking for people, I love watching Poirot reruns and playing Who Am I? on Christmas. This means being on the cutting edge of cooking, and things like this baklava are a bit of a no-brainer: it has all the fun and flavor of Christmas, but none of the faffs. It's made using ready-made ground beef, marzipan, and filo sheets, so "making it" is really more of an assembly job. And, like me, he could then sit around happily for a week or so without any problems.

Christmas Baklavas

This recipe can be easily doubled. You will need a food processor for the nuts, and a deep 25cm x 25cm baking dish (you could use a larger tray, but the filo won't fit). Make sure the mince and marzipan are vegan-friendly.

  • Preparation 10 min
  • Cook 1 hour 20 minutes, plus cooling
  • Makes About 35 pieces
  • For syrup
  • 100 grams of caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp brandy

For the baklavas

  • 125 grams of peeled walnuts, finely ground
  • 125g peeled pistachios, finely ground (set aside 20g for finishing)
  • 1¼ tsp allspice
  • ¼ tsp fine sea salt
  • seasoning from 1 lemon
  • 100 grams of marzipan, grated
  • 190g minced meat
  • 100g vegan unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 x 270g pack of filo pastry (ie, 7 sheets)

First make the syrup, which should be chilled before being spread over the baklava so your bottom doesn't get soggy. Place the sugar, 100 ml water and the lemon juice in a small saucepan, bring to a boil over low to medium heat, then simmer for about eight minutes, until the mixture starts to coat the back of a spoon. Add brandy, bring to a boil briefly, then remove from heat and allow to cool.

Now for the filling. Place the peanuts in a bowl, add allspice, salt and zest and stir. Add the minced meat and marzipan and stir again.

Preheat oven to 170C (150C fan)/325F/gas 3. Melt the butter in the microwave and remove the filo from the fridge. Lay the filo sheets in a stack, cutting them in half vertically from top to bottom, then stack them so that you now have 14 smaller cookie sheets. Grease a 25cm x 25cm oven tray with butter and place on a sheet of filo. Brush again, place on another sheet of filo and repeat until you've used seven sheets, but don't butter the top sheet. Place the bean and minced meat filling on top and, using a wet spoon, press the filling evenly and up to the edge of the cake. Place another sheet of filo on top, brush with butter, then repeat with remaining six cookie sheets. Pressing well with your hand, cut diagonally from top left to bottom right by 4 cm, and again from top right to bottom left, then brush top gently with remaining butter (you may need to remelt it). Bake for an hour, until golden brown, then remove from the oven and spoon the syrup evenly over the top. Sprinkle over the reserved ground pistachios and leave to cool in trays. To serve, slice again, then pour the baklava onto a large plate or smaller individual plates.

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