Several years ago my husband had a conference in Morocco and found it to be a fascinating place. He loved the landscape, the warmth and hospitality of the people, and the food, particularly the pastries. He described to me one pastry he wanted to try to duplicate at home, almond-filled phyllo triangles. I experimented on my own until I came up with this recipe that my husband said comes very close to the flavors he enjoyed.
This past week my book club took a break from reading books and we had a potluck dinner followed by a movie. The evening’s theme was Africa. We each brought food from a different area of Africa and watched the 1985 Academy Award winning film “Out of Africa.” I made the Moroccan almond paste phyllo triangles for dessert, along with mascarpone cream-filled phyllo tartlets.
The phyllo triangles will keep overnight or can be frozen. This recipe can easily be doubled. Consider this as a possible addition to your holiday dessert table if you are looking for something new.
Moroccan Almond Paste Phyllo Triangles
half a (8 oz.) can almond paste (do not use almond paste in a tube)
1/4 c. sugar
pinch of salt
1 large egg
1-2 tsp. orange flower water
9 sheets phyllo dough
1/2 c. unsalted butter, melted
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line several baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. Assemble all ingredients including melted butter. You will need to work quickly once the phyllo dough package is opened. In a food processor combine almond paste and sugar. Pulse until there are no large lumps of almond paste. Add salt, egg and orange flower water and pulse until you have a smooth, thick filling. Place one sheet of phyllo vertically on a flat surface and brush gently and sparingly with melted butter. Cut phyllo into three long strips. Place 1 generous tsp. filling in the left-hand bottom corner of one strip. Fold the filling and phyllo over to the opposite side to form a triangle and continue folding triangles until you reach the top of the phyllo sheet. Place on baking sheet seam side down and brush with melted butter. Repeat with the remaining phyllo and filling. Each sheet of phyllo will produce three triangles. You should have 27 triangles. Work quickly so the phyllo does not dry out and keep the phyllo covered with plastic wrap. Bake for 10-12 minutes until phyllo triangles are puffed and golden but not brown. Remove from oven and cool on a rack. Serves 12-15.
Spiced Mascarpone Cream-filled Phyllo Tartlets
1 (8 oz.) tub mascarpone (I like Rio Briati Brand)
3/4 c. heavy cream
1/2 c. sugar
half a vanilla bean, split
3/4 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. lemon or lime zest
1/8-1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
3 (9 oz.) pgks. Athens brand mini phyllo shells
Defrost phyllo shells for 10 minutes as instructed on the package. Combine all other ingredients in a mixer and whip until thick and creamy. Do not over beat; you want it fluffy. Taste and adjust flavorings to your liking. When ready to serve spoon mascarpone cream into shells. Makes 45 mini tartlets.