Baklava

Photo Courtesy of Shatila.

A Taste of Honey


Of all desserts, baklava provides that rare combination of taste and texture, giving your mouth so much crunchy goodness that you will be tempted to go back for a second piece. And, most likely, a third or a fourth.

Baklava is a traditionally Middle Eastern dessert made with a combination of puff pastry or phyllo dough, honey and nuts. Most of the time, the nuts are either pistachios or walnuts, creating that rough-and-tumble texture that makes eating baklava a memorable event. It’s not slippery like pumpkin pie. It’s not mushy like a baked apple. Baklava is rich, crispy and refined. 

Because Metro Detroit is made up of dozens of ethnicities, there are a variety of baklava recipes to sample. One favorite spot is Greektown in Detroit as well as a number of bakeries in Dearborn, where one of the highest U.S. concentrations of Middle Eastern residents reside. Metro Detroit is gifted with these talented pastry chefs of every possible background, and our baklava choices are overflowing as a result.

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“When we aren’t making our own, we order it from Shatila and have it shipped to Colorado,” said Mona Hart, a former Michigan resident who now lives out west. “Nobody makes a more luscious, crispy baklava. Nobody.”

Here are some of the bakeries, restaurants and holes in the wall that receive the most recommendations and sticky accolades for their baklava.

Shatila 

There is a reason why Bon Appetit magazine waxed poetic about this slice of baklava. This pastry-perfect icon in Dearborn has made sweets its specialty. The baklava comes with many nut varieties from the well-known ones to the fun kind, such as cashews. People are extremely loyal to this long-time business, and their taste buds have been rewarded because of it. As PR pro Jessica Sader says: “Shatila, always and forever.”

Astoria 

Even if you’ve gone here since you were a teen and now you’ve got teenagers of your own (guilty as charged), there is no shame in loving this classic bakery. There are locations in Detroit’s Greektown as well as on Royal Oak’s main street, and they’re always packed. Get a piece of baklava and some of its freshly brewed coffee to balance the sweetness you’ll find there. 

Masri Sweets 

The family that owns this Dearborn mainstay have been baking and feeding our collective sweet teeth for more than 100 years. All of their pastries are made using Turkish pistachios, Jordan walnuts, Brazillian cashews and butter. Lots and lots of butter. The Masri family are experts at baklava and their version is considered a must for newbies and pastry experts. 

Le Monde 

One look at its wedding cakes and you can understand why people believe the pastry experts at Le Monde in Allen Park are the real deal. But their passions lie in the traditional treats such as baklava. You can order full sheets full for special events and catering at weddings and the like. But you may just want to keep half of that sheet pan to yourself if you know what you’re doing.

Steve’s Backroom 

This St. Clair Shores favorite has some of the best Mediterranean cuisine around, including all of Metro Detroit’s favorites such as hummus, tabbouleh, stuffed grape leaves, kafta and baba ghannouj. But the desserts are heavenly as well, including its crisp baklava. Make sure to try a fruit nectar, fruit smoothie or raw juice with it as a great finish.

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