There are things like shortbread and brownies that are as easy as pie (excuse the pun) to make gluten free. Others such as crusty bread and pizza are a bit more tricky and rarely work. And then there is those that are downright impossible to make gluten free. One of these would be baklava, i.e. phyllo dough. I have never seen ready-made gluten free phyllo dough in the shops. And no, phyllo dough is NOT puff pastry. While there are baklava recipes in which you could theoretically swap the wheat flour for gluten free flour, the process would be so laborious that it would be hardly worth it. But as a long-standing lover of baklava, I have never given up on my quest for some gluten free baklava, and I am happy to present to you the one and only – gluten free vegan baklava bites! They are a healthy-ish version without all the butter and sugar of the original and they are done in five. Who is in?
The idea for these babies came to me when I had a bowl of gluten free weetbix topped with some nuts and maple syrup the other day. The crunch of the weetbix in combination with the nuts and syrup evoked a long-forgotten pleasure from the blissful days without gluten intolerance: baklava. So my brain started rattling how to make it work and didn’t stop until it screamed: Bliss balls! I call them gluten free vegan baklava bites here just to provide for some linguistic variety. But the concept is much the same. Dates, nuts, cereals, and spices. Blitzed in a blender, then rolled into balls and chilled. It doesn’t get any easier than that!
Needless to say, they are gluten free, vegan, and refined sugar free – something that regular baklava cannot exactly boast with. They are also husband and toddler approved, and therefore a great little and nutritious snack for the whole family (if you are not allergic to nuts, of course). Due to the nuts, this treat is not as low in fat as most of my creations, but nut fat is super healthy for you and also very satisfying. I used a mix of walnuts, pistachios and almonds here. You can use other nuts, but I found that these yield the most trational “baklava” flavour, especially the pistachios.
Walnuts are high in flavonoids for a healthy heart and vitamin E for glowing skin and brain power. Pistachios contain most of the nutrients required for good health, such as vitamins, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc and copper. Let’s tuck in!
Gluten Free Vegan Baklava Bites
Makes 12-15 baklava bites
3 gluten-free weetbix biscuits, crumbled
1 cup (ca. 12) medjool dates, pitted and roughly chopped
1 cup mixed chopped nuts (such as walnuts, pistachios, almonds)
1-2 tbsp rose water (optional, but provides authentic “baklava” flavour)
2 tbsp natural maple syrup
Just blitz everything in a high-powered blender, roll into balls and chill in the fridge until firmed up. Store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a week.