Monday, June 16, 2008

Gjetost and Apple Phyllo Pastries

I made these pastries yesterday to use up some leftover phyllo dough that I had in my freezer. I was in a hurry, so I didn't quite thaw out the dough enough, which explains why the pastries have a few cracks in them.

I should start by saying that Gjetost cheese is a firm, brown, goat's milk cheese from Norway. You may have to look a bit to find it, but it's out there; I've heard Whole Foods and Cost Plus World Market stock it. Surprisingly enough, I found my block at Hy-Vee. The cheese has a predominate caramel flavor that is balanced by the tang of goat cheese; perfect for desserts, in my opinion.

For the Filling:
Peel, core, and small dice 2 Granny Smith Apples. Sweat in butter and season with a pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg. After the apples have softened a bit, cover with water and simmer until nearly dry, stirring occasionally. Add about 2 Tablespoons of REAL Maple Syrup and continue to cook until most of the moisture has evaporated. Add about a ¼ - ⅓ cup finely chopped Pecans and remove mixture from heat. Cool over an ice bath, and incorporate 4 oz of diced Gjetost cheese when cool.

Lay one sheet of phyllo dough horizontally on a cutting board, and brush lightly with melted butter. Place another sheet directly on top of that one and brush with butter. Repeat once more so that you have three sheets of phyllo dough with butter in between and butter on the top sheet. With a pastry wheel (pizza cutter) cut the dough into 3 or 4 equal strips (cut horizontally so the strips are shorter). Apply about 1 - 1 ½ tablespoons of filling to the base of each strip. Carefully fold the filling into the strip using the flag fold technique (also the technique used to make triangular paper "footballs" in grade school). Lay each pastry on a sheet pan and brush lightly with butter. Bake at 400ºF until golden brown and crispy.

These are probably the best Apple Pastries I've ever eaten. Don't be scared of this recipe. Phyllo can be a bit tricky to work with, but it's worth the effort. Handle carefully and work quickly to keep it from drying out. You can also cover it with a clean towel to keep it from drying out as fast. You can wrap any filling, sweet or savory, in phyllo dough if you just follow a few simple rules. The filling should always be tasty enough to be eaten on its own. It shouldn't be too runny; you can use bread crumbs or cheese to help bind it. Don't overfill. It's such a versatile technique, and I recommend everybody try it once.


1 comment:

Jennifer said...

Wow. Those look fantastic.

I do like working with phyllo dough. To me it's actually easier than pie crust, and I think it tastes better, too.