Makes about 80 pieces
Fat and flaky little phyllo rolls filled with warm melty chocolate. These differ slightly in method from Chocolate Pecan Batons (page 263 of the book): all of the chocolate is in the very center of the log rather than scattered over the whole sheet. This concentrates all of the melty chocolate in one spot for maximum effect. Feel free to divide this large recipe in half to make only 40 pieces. Wrap and refreeze the remaining dough or use it to make a half recipe of one of the upgrades, or half of another recipe that calls for phyllo dough (pages 262-65 of the book).
Cookie sheets, lined with parchment paper or foil
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven.
Place 1 sheet of phyllo dough on a smooth surface. Use a spoon to drizzle some melted butter allover the surface of the dough, using only the clear yellow portion of the butter and not the milky white part. Use a brush or your fingers to spread the butter over the entire sheet of dough, gently sliding and patting the butter. Add more butter if necessary. Cut the dough into rectangles about 6 by 8 inches.
Place heaping teaspoons of chocolate pieces in a strip about 3 inches long, centered at one narrow end of a piece of buttered phyllo. Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon sugar over the whole piece of phyllo. Fold the end of the phyllo over the chocolate and roll 2 turns, then fold each side to the middle and finish rolling; the finished roll will be 3 inches long and about 1/2 inch thick. Place seam side down on one of the lined cookie sheets. Repeat with remaining phyllo pieces, placing the cookies about 1/2 inch apart.
Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until both the tops and the bottoms are golden brown. Rotate the pans from top to bottom and from front to back halfway through the baking time to ensure even baking. Set the pans or just the liners on racks to cool. Let the cookies cool completely before stacking or storing. May be kept in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
Mix together 3/4 cup (5.25 ounces) packed light brown sugar, 3-1/2 ounces finely chopped bittersweet or semisweet chocolate (about 60% cacao), 2 tablespoons (0.4 ounce) unsweetened cocoa powder, 2 tablespoons instant coffee or espresso powder, 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, and 1 cup (5 ounces) dried cranberries. Substitute a heaping teaspoon of this mixture for the chocolate.
Mix together 1 cup (7 ounces) sugar and 1 cup (3 ounces) sliced almonds and substitute this mixture for the chocolate.
Omit the chocolate. Mix 1-1/2 cups (13.5 ounces) well-stirred roasted almond butter* with 1-1/2 cups (18 ounces) honey. If the almond butter is unsalted, stir in 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon salt, to taste. In place of the chocolate, shape a slightly rounded teaspoon of the almond mixture into a narrow 2-inch strip. Sprinkle the phyllo with sugar as directed, or mix the sugar first with the grated zest of a large orange, or substitute 1/2 cup Holiday Spice Sugar (page 336 of the book).
*Natural almond butter, which is unsweetened and must be stirred to blend in the separated almond oil, is better here than the "no-stir" variety. The latter is too sweet, and the emulsifiers that make it homogeneous produce a less luxurious filling.
Despite fears to the contrary, phyllo dough is easy and fun to work with. The dough comes in the form of flexible paper-thin sheets. The sheets are stacked, folded, and packed in a sealed bag inside a box (unless you buy them fresh from a bakery that makes them) and sold refrigerated or frozen. Thaw frozen phyllo in the unopened package in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight and then bring to room temperature on the counter before opening the package. Open the package when you are ready to use the dough, not before. Each sheet is delicate, but not so fragile that it requires a surgeon to handle it. (If sheets stick together because they are not yet thawed, rewrap and return them to the fridge to finish thawing rather than trying to force them apart. If thawed sheets are brittle or stuck together, they should be returned to the vendor—they are old or damaged in some way.)
Phyllo sheets dry out and lose their flexibility if you leave them exposed to air for too long, but there is no need to worry if you observe two rules: Don't open the package until your melted butter and fillings are at hand and you are ready to fill and shape your cookies. And, once you begin to work with the phyllo, continue until you are done with the recipe. Then put any leftover phyllo away immediately. If you leave phyllo sheets exposed to the air while you take a lengthy phone call or walk the dog, the sheets will dry out and crack when you try to fold or roll them. But if you work without dillydallying, the phyllo will remain supple long enough for you to finish your project. Cookbooks and phyllo packages often advise you to cover the stack of phyllo with a sheet of plastic wrap weighted with a wrung-out wet towel, to prevent the sheets from drying out as you work. The damp towel is not a good idea unless you can make certain that it never ever comes in direct contact with the phyllo—wet phyllo immediately dissolves into paste. The infamous wet towel (or a wet counter or wet hands) is probably the cause of most phyllo phobia. Keep the phyllo under a sheet of plastic wrap if you like, but it is not really necessary if you work at a reasonable pace from start to finish. Any leftover phyllo sheets should be wrapped airtight in plastic wrap or a plastic bag and returned to the fridge or freezer.
This page created April 2011
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