Thursday, August 6, 2009

Walnuts + Maple Syrup + Phyllo = Heavenly Bites

Let me begin by telling all of you how delicious all of your phyllo & anchovy suggestions are sounding to me!! I ended up going with something sweet today, but I still have half of the phyllo left and will more than likely utilize a savory inspiration...anchovies and all... for this half. I am starting to wonder how in the world I have all of these miscellaneous food-stuffs hanging around incognito. Yes, I am sure I look right at through them every time I peek into the freezer or pantry...and then grumble that there's nothing to eat. My mission to utilize these ingredients before buying more is really an eye-opener. It's pushing me to be both creative and practical...and I think I like it. I also wonder what I'll do once the shelves are pretty much cleared. Will I buy things at the market just because I might need them for something...or only buy what I know I'll use soon. Ah, I'll probably buy random odds and ends. You never know when they could get shoved to the back of the freezer come in handy. Shhhhhh...it's in my nature. I'll just have to have another round of Food Jeopardy! (Answer: Broccoli with Orange, Almonds and Brown Butter. Question: What relatively tasty dish can be made with x ingredients lying around your kitchen?) I've mentioned how much I enjoy pie before, right? Right. That's probably the reason I joined You Want Pies with That? ...and then went the last 2 months without entering a pie. Ugh. Why do I do stuff like that? Best Intentions. Really. And how ironic is it that the point in time when my kitchen is basically bare, is the point in time I get my butt in gear and come up with an entry for this month's theme Nuts, chosen by Jacque of Daisy Lane Cakes. I started thinking phyllo shell...mmmmmm. I did do some perusing of the Athens Foods website for a little inspiration (and another round of Food Jeopardy! Answer: Mini Maple Walnut Phyllo Tarts Question: What kind of pie or tart can I make with the dwindling ingredients already in my kitchen?). Hooray for an almost empty bag of walnuts in the freezer along with that phyllo in question...and for the half-full bottle of maple syrup in the fridge (maple-nut goodies on my mind)! I felt like making mini's because I thought they'd be easier to eat in this heat...little bites of richness as opposed to heavy, filling plate-fulls. So, I dug these out...

With visions of mountains of mini's in my head...Mini Maple Walnut Phyllo Tarts adapted from this recipe at AthensFoods by girlichef

yield: ~48 mini tarts

1 c. maple syrup

2 eggs

2 Tbs. melted butter, cooled

1 tsp. walnut extract (or vanilla if you don't have this)

1 1/4 c. chopped walnuts

20 sheets phyllo dough, thawed (~1/2 box)

1/2 c. melted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium bowl, combine maple syrup, eggs, melted butter and maple extract, mixing well. Stir in walnuts. Set aside to work with phyllo.

Once everything else is ready to go, lay out a cutting board a little larger than your sheets of phyllo. Working quickly, lay out 1 sheet of phyllo and brush with melted butter. Carefully set another sheet over the first and brush with melted butter again. Repeat until you have 5 total sheets of phyllo done in this manner. Using a 3" round cutter, cut circles from the prepared phyllo. You should get ~12 circles.

Push one circle into each whole of a mini-muffin tin to make the shell. I sprayed the tins with pan spray first, just to be safe...but I don't know, it may not have been necessary. I mean, that's a lot of butter! Anyhoo...continue layering the phyllo & butter and cutting until you've done all 20 sheets. You should end up with ~48 little shells. I have a silly number of mini muffin/tart tins, so I was able to make all of these at once. If you don't, then just do them a few at a time, covering the phyllo in between times.

Place the tins in preheated oven and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until filling looks thick and somewhat set and shells are golden. Cool for a few minutes, and then pop these beauties out. But a word of caution...these are addicting!!! Yes, I succeeded in making mini (not so heavy) tarts, but I immediately commenced in eating enough to make up a whole slice or two of the regular-sized variety. That crisp, buttery, melt-in-your-mouth phyllo shell with just-right maple walnut, gooey goodness nestled inside could be enough to make you groan. I did.