My mom and I were making some spanakopitas the other night and we had a couple of sheets of leftover phyllo dough. I thought it would be a good idea to cut the dough into squares, stick them into a muffin tin and bake them to make little cups for a dessert. I then made a less-complicated version of baklava filling on the stove top and spooned it into the pre-baked cups. It was so easy and tasty!
You can make it even easier by buying already-made phyllo cups at your grocery store. But for those who like working with phyllo, I’ve included directions below on how to make these.
I love desserts that use nuts and honey and the wonderful thing about this shortcut baklava is that you can taste as you go and adjust flavors to your liking. Don’t like cloves? You can substitute allspice instead. Only have pistachios in your pantry? Just use a cup of those! This would also be tasty with some lemon zest or some almond extract. Experiment and see what you get! I promise you won’t be disappointed.
Shortcut Baklava Recipe
makes 12 individual dessert cups
12 phyllo cups or shells or 24 mini cups (these are sold in the frozen aisle of many grocery stores, or you can make them yourself [instructions are below])
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup almonds
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup honey
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- If phyllo cups are raw, bake in the oven according to package directions. If not, set them aside.
- In a dry skillet over medium-low heat, toast the walnuts and almonds for a couple of minutes until they just start to brown and smell fragrant. Remove from heat and let cool.
- In a saucepan over medium heat, combine remaining ingredients and allow to simmer and reduce into a glaze, about 10-12 minutes. Stir often so it doesn’t stick.
- Pulse cooled nuts in a food processor until they are small and chunky, but not a paste. Combine nuts with glaze and then drop spoonfuls into the baked phyllo cups. Allow to cool before serving.
5 sheets of thawed phyllo dough
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Moistened paper towel or tea towel
A work surface larger than your sheets of phyllo
A pastry brush
A sharp knife or pizza cutter
A cupcake or muffin tin
- Preheat your oven according to the directions on your package of phyllo dough. Ours indicated a 350°F temperature but yours may be different.
- Working quickly but gently, spread your first sheet of phyllo dough on the work surface. Cover the other sheets with the moist towel. Make sure it’s not wet — just slightly damp — and it will keep the thin sheets of dough from drying out.
- Using the pastry brush, brush the entire sheet with melted butter. I brush the edges first and then fill in the middle since the edges seem to dry out faster.
- Gently remove the next sheet of phyllo dough from the stack and place on top of the buttered sheet. Try to line up the corners, but it doesn’t have to be perfect. Brush the next sheet with the butter and continue for the remaining sheets.
- If you get a tear, don’t worry. You can just use the next layer of phyllo to cover it up.
- Now it’s time to cut the dough. The size that you cut it depends both on the size of the sheets and what kind of tin you’re using to bake the cups. Cut the sheet into squares that are roughly twice the size of the baking cups. I used a muffin tin so my squares were pretty large – about 3″ x 3″ – but I should have made them larger. I just cut the sheet in half the long way and then made horizontal cuts to turn them into squares.
- Grease the muffin or cupcake tin and put a square of dough into a cup. Mold it into the inside of the cup using your fingers. Once I molded each square of dough into cups, I used the bottom of a glass to press the dough down and make sure everything was even.
- Put the tin into the oven and bake until edges of cups are crisp and golden. Ours took about 10 minutes, but times will vary according to the size of the cups and the instructions on your package of phyllo.
- Let cups cool before adding hot filling.
I shaped the phyllo dough into the muffin tins and then pressed it down with the bottom of a glass to ensure a nice shape and a flat bottom.
I added heaping scoops of filling to each cup. It was nutty and toasty and sweet and full of spices. These were absolutely delicious and I will definitely make them again.