Make the syrup: Bring 2 cups water, the sugar and honey to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to medium low; simmer until the sugar is dissolved and the syrup is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 20 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice and rose water. Pour into a large liquid measuring cup or heatproof bowl and refrigerate until ready to use (or up to 1 day).
Make the baklava: Position a rack in the lower third of the oven; preheat to 375 degrees F. Pulse the nuts, confectioners' sugar and cinnamon in a food processor until coarsely ground. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the vanilla and salt.
Brush the bottom and sides of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with melted butter. Trim the phyllo to 9 by 13 inches with kitchen shears (fig. A); cover with a damp towel. Lay 1 sheet of phyllo in the prepared baking dish and brush with butter. Repeat with 5 more sheets of phyllo, buttering each sheet. Scatter about 3/4 cup of the nut mixture evenly over the phyllo stack. Top with 2 more sheets of phyllo, buttering each sheet, then top with another 3/4 cup of the nut mixture. Repeat to make 2 more layers (use 2 sheets of buttered phyllo and 3/4 cup nut mixture for each layer), then top with the remaining 6 sheets of phyllo, buttering each sheet (fig. B). Scatter the remaining nut mixture on top.
Cut the baklava into 32 triangles (fig. C). Transfer to the oven and bake until golden brown and crisp, about 40 minutes (tent with foil if the nuts are browning too quickly).
Remove from the oven and pour the prepared syrup evenly over the top. Let the syrup soak in, at least 2 hours.
Photograph by Ryan Liebe
Thaw: Place the frozen phyllo in its packaging in the refrigerator overnight (do not thaw in the microwave) Trim: After opening the package, use kitchen shears to trim any edges that are dry or clumped together Transfer: As you move individual sheets of phyllo, place one hand underneath them to help prevent tearing. Cover: Keep the phyllo covered with a slightly damp kitchen towel while you're working; the sheets can dry out quickly. Store: Stack leftover phyllo on a baking sheet and cover with a damp towel, then wrap tightly with a plastic wrap. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days; do not refreeze.
Recipe courtesy of Food Network Magazine
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