Confession: When it comes to desserts, I love the impractical.
My favorite impractical ingredient right now is phyllo dough (pronounced fee’-lo or fie’-lo). It really looks like it shouldn’t be edible—it’s papery thin, crackly, and dry. It’s probably made of tree bark, I don’t know. It has no nutritional value at all,* and it has to be filled at the last possible minute or it will get soggy.
* unless you eat five sheets of it, which is the recommended serving size
All of which are excellently impractical reasons to enjoy it at your next party. If the White Queen tries to believe six impossible things before breakfast, I try to do six impractical ones.
Phyllo is usually available in the freezer section of a grocery store, rolled into sheets of paper-thin pastry.
Here’s how to work with it:
- Stack the sheets atop each other, spraying each sheet with a light layer of cooking oil. You may stack as many or as few layers as you wish; I like about seven.
- Use a pizza cutter to cut the stack into the right size of squares.
- Press into muffin cups, tart pans, or whatever you would like to use.
- Bake at 375° for just a few minutes, until lightly browned.
- Fill as desired. Enjoy within two hours.
I have seen beautiful recipes for savory fillings—Chicken Florentine or Tomato-and-Basil, but I’ve only played with sweet. Pictured here is fresh peach pie filling, topped with a cream cheese fluff. Once, I layered black raspberry filling with lemon yogurt and whipped cream. Now that was a beauty.
Do you play with phyllo? What’s your favorite impractical ingredient in the kitchen?