Saragli or Baklava cigars are a traditional Greek syrup soaked dessert make with phyllo dough and nuts
Σαραγλί. Do you know what is arguably better than baklava, the king of Greek syrup-soaked desserts? Saragli ! Saragli (pronounced with the accent on the last syllable) are basically baklava rolled into cigar shapes, making them easy to eat with your fingers, which then requires you to lick your fingers clean of the sweet, sticky syrup the saragli are soaked in. Of course, you can always be civilized and use a fork, or a napkin. We won’t judge.
Our parents tend to make saragli over the more traditional pan baklava when they make dessert for a crowd, or when it is to be part of a larger dessert buffet. The saragli could be made into various sizes; either one-bite mini saragli or larger ones as we are showing here – gone in about 3 to 4 delicious bites. Because they are simple to serve (no cutting of serving size pieces), these baklava cigars are easy for guests to dive right into.
Our recipe and technique for rolling the saragli was taught to us by our parents. We love how they fold them up in a way that does not leave open ends on either side. The nut filling is completely encased in the phyllo wrapping which makes for cleaner eating; you won’t have nuts falling out the end as you take a bite. A bit more time consuming to do it this way, but worth the effort! In fact, once you are on a roll (pun totally intended) the act of making saragli is very relaxing.
Which phyllo is best for making saragli?
We are fortunate in that we can easily find fresh phyllo at our local Greek market. If you can find fresh phyllo dough then we suggest you use that over frozen. If you do use frozen, be sure to thaw it in the refrigerator overnight.
We often get asked about the thickness of the phyllo dough we use. We wish we could give you a precise response, but the phyllo we purchase does not indicate the thickness. What we can say is that the same brand has both a thicker and a thinner phyllo…so we guess….get a phyllo of medium thickness?! Not very helpful, but the best we can do for now.
Why do you include breadcrumbs in the saragli nut mixture?
A great question, and one we get asked a lot (we also use breadcrumbs in the pan baklava). Our parents believe that the small amount of breadcrumbs helps to “hold” the syrupy sweetness in the filling, and also adds a lovely texture. Given that their baklava and saragli are some of the best we’ve ever had (yes, we’re biased…but some of you have told us so too!) we stick with their recipe and are never disappointed.
When pouring the syrup over the saragli, what temperature should they be at?
Lots of people have this question! The general rule of thumb that we follow when adding syrup to any dessert is that one should be hot and the other cold (or room temperature). The easiest thing is to make the syrup first, then assemble and bake your saragli. By the time it is done, the syrup will be completely cooled. At that point, pour the syrup over your baklava cigars as soon as they come out of the oven.
How do you shape saragli or baklava cigars?
As you can see in the photos, we cut our sheet of phyllo into thirds, each third being about 13 centimeters or about 5 inches wide. We then use two layers of phyllo, buttering each sheet, to make the saragli. Add about 1 tablespoons of filling to the bottom of the strip leaving about 1/2 inch from the bottom. Fold over the filling and then carefully fold in the sides. Once this is done, begin to carefully roll. You may have to tuck in the sides if you see any filling peaking through.
You’ll find more step by step instructions in the actual recipe, and use the photos as a guide. We’ve even included a video of Billie, folding the saragli.
What size pan should I use to bake the saragli or baklava cigars?
For this recipe we use a 4.5 liter volume rectangular glass lasagna pan; we find that this works really well. If you have a smaller pan it’s fine. You just want to be sure that your baklava cigars fit in snugly so that they can bake evenly and so that the syrup is evenly absorbed. You may have to bake in batches if you have a smaller pan.
Can saragli be frozen?
Yes!! What a great way to have dessert in a jiffy! You can freeze unbaked saragli and then cook them from frozen when needed (just be sure to adjust the cooking time). You can also freeze totally prepared saragli. You will have to bring them to room temperature before serving. Note that the phyllo will have lost its crispness, but you can pop them into the oven for a few minutes to crisp them up.
Looking for more great desserts that use phyllo? Check these out!
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Saragli or Baklava cigars
- Pastry brush
- Mini food processor (optional but helpful)
- Large baking pan (we use a 4.5 L glass rectangular baking pan)
For the syrup
- 1 ¼ cup (250 grams) granulated white sugar
- 1 ¼ cup (310 mL) water
- ¾ cup (180 mL) honey
- 1 tsp (4 mL) freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 slice lemon
- 1 - 2 cinnamon sticks
For the saragli
- 1 ¼ cup (140 grams) crushed almonds
- 3 cups (420 grams) crushed walnuts
- ¼ cup plain breadcrumbs
- ½ cup (125 mL) melted butter, unsalted for the nut mixture
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp salt
- ¾ cup (180 mL) melted butter, unsalted for brushing onto the phyllo layers
- 1 pound phyllo dough
Prepare the syrup
- Bring to a boil the sugar, water, honey, lemon juice, lemon slice and cinnamon stick. Lower heat and cook just until sugar melts, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.
Prepare the saragli
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Prepare your baking pan by brushing the bottom and side with some butter.
- In a medium sized bowl combine the crushed almonds and walnuts, breadcrumbs, the ½ cup (125 mL) of melted butter, the cinnamon and the salt. Mix well until combined.
- Carefully unwrap your phyllo dough and open the sheets completely. Cut your phyllo into strips which are approximately 13 cm or 5 inches wide. Keep one of the strip layers out to work with and wrap the rest in a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap until ready to use (to keep the phyllo from drying out).
- Take one phyllo strip and brush with melted butter. Top it with another phyllo strip and brush that with butter as well.You can watch Billie here, folding the saragli.
- Take 1 tablespoon of filling and place it at the bottom of your phyllo strip, about ½ inch from the bottom.
- Fold the bottom of the phyllo strip over the filling (you may not cover all the filling - that is fine). Next, fold in the sides by about 1 centimeter or enough so that the folded phyllo stays in place and you have secured the filling in place.
- Next, carefully roll your filling all the way until you have made a cigar shape. Do so carefully as you want to be sure that the sides remain tucked in and you don't see any of the nut filling peaking through.
- Transfer the baklava cigar to the baking pan, seam side down.
- Repeat until all of the filling and phyllo have been used up; you should be able to get between 25 - 27 saragli from this recipe.
- Brush melted butter over the top of your saragli rolls. Then, using your fingers drizzle water over the top.
- Bake in the middle rack of your oven for approximately 30 - 40 minutes until the top is golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and immediately pour the cooled syrup over top. Decorate with the cinnamon sticks and lemon slice if desired.
- Saragli can be kept at room temperature for several days. Do not cover it tightly with plastic wrap, as this will cause your phyllo to get soggy. Instead, when it has cooled completely, use a clean tea towel or piece of cheesecloth to cover your saragli. This will keep it fresh and crispy.