By: Kim Macy, Miraval Pastry Chef
Phyllo dough is a great way to bring a light, crispy texture to your culinary creations. Use it to make “baskets” for savory or sweet recipes, as a replacement for puff pastry when making a strudel, or to make spanakopita. Phyllo can also be used to make sweet napoleons. To do this, place two sheets of phyllo on top of one another (spray between the layers). Spray the top layer and fold the sheets in half lengthwise. Cut into 8 squares and then cut each square into two triangles. Spray and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Thaw frozen phyllo dough in its original packaging in the refrigerator overnight. Wrap unused dough in plastic wrap, and store it in the refrigerator for up to one week. To prevent the delicate sheets from drying out while you work, cover the extra dough with a slightly dampened, lightweight kitchen towel.
- Carefully remove one sheet at a time. Layer four sheets, one on top of the other, for a sturdy pastry. Coat all but the top layer with aerosol cooking spray to prevent tearing and encourage browning during the baking process. For extra flavor and enhanced appearance, sprinkle each layer of phyllo with fresh or dried chopped herbs and minced garlic, or with cinnamon or graham cracker crumbs.
- Use a pizza cutter or knife to cut dough in half vertically, creating two long sections. Use an aerosol cooking spray to help repair any tearing that occurs while working. (Dampen tears, then gently press edges together.)
- To make triangles: Working with one section at a time, drop a small amount of filling onto the bottom. Leave a one-inch border around the filling to allow for folding.
- Gently fold pastry into a triangle: start at the filling end and fold forward in a flag pattern. Avoid wrapping too tightly, which can cause the filling to spill out during baking.
- To make shells: cut the two long sections (from Step 2) into thirds to create six squares. Line a muffin tin and bake for 20 minutes, then fill and serve.