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EATING well

Mini Cherry Phyllo Pie: lighter take, same great taste

Miniature cherry phyllo pies are filled with the summertime fruit.

Associated Press

Miniature cherry phyllo pies are filled with the summertime fruit.

My all-time favorite dessert is cherry pie.

I felt slightly virtuous when I discovered recently that cherries are such a healthy ingredient, rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber. Naturally, then, I had a lot of fun whipping up a new version of this American classic, one that swaps out the buttery crust for phyllo dough.

It wasn't until I began my life as chef that I understood that cherry pie is supposed to be made with sour cherries, which boast more flavor than the sweet ones. Unfortunately, the season for sour cherries is short.

And then there are those pits.

There are plenty of kitchen gizmos for making easy work of pitting lots of cherries, but if you don't own one of them, the best method is to whack the whole cherry with the side of a chef's knife, after which the pit slides right out.

I thicken the filling with cornstarch rather than flour because I prefer the former's translucence to the latter's muddiness.

As mentioned, I kissed off the usual pie crust in favor of phyllo dough, but I kept some of the butter, which adds flavor and crispiness. For extra crunchiness, I layered in almonds ground up with a bit of cinnamon sugar.

MINI CHERRY PHYLLO PIE

For the filling:

1 pound sweet cherries, pitted

¼ cup sugar

1 teaspoon lemon zest

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 tablespoons cornstarch

¼ cup water

For the phyllo shells:

¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons slivered or sliced almonds

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

8 sheets phyllo dough

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Cooking spray

8 small scoops frozen yogurt (optional)

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium saucepan over medium-high, combine the cherries, sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice. Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer gently for 5 minutes. In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and water. Add the cornstarch mixture to the cherries in a stream, whisking constantly. Return the mixture to a boil, then remove from the heat. Let the filling cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile, in a spice grinder, small blender or the small bowl of a food processor, pulse the almonds with the sugar and cinnamon until finely chopped but not pulverized. Transfer to a small bowl.

Fold the stack of phyllo sheets in half, then fold it in half again and trim off the edges (reserving the trimmings), to produce a stack of 32 squares, each 4 ½ inches across.

Lay one phyllo square on a work surface, then use a pastry brush to lightly dab the square with a little of the melted butter. Sprinkle a teaspoon of the almond mixture on top, then set a second square over it. Brush the second square with a little more butter and sprinkle with another teaspoon of almond sugar.

Set a third square on top of the second at a 45-degree angle, forming an eight-pointed star. Top with one last square, brushing it lightly with butter. Drape the stack of phyllo over one cup of an overturned muffin pan. Mist the stack with cooking spray. Repeat this layering process to form another 7 stacks, also setting them over the muffin cups. Reserve a little of the almond mixture and butter.

Lay the phyllo trimmings flat and brush them with the remaining butter. Sprinkle them with the remaining almond mixture, then transfer them to a small baking pan.

Bake the phyllo shells and the scraps on the oven's middle shelf until golden brown, about 6 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.

To serve, spoon the cherry filling into the shells, then top with the crispy scraps and the frozen yogurt, if using.

Makes 8 servings.

Nutrition information per serving: 190 calories (70 calories from fat, 37 percent of total calories); 8g fat (3g saturated, 0g trans fats); 10mg cholesterol; 29g carbohydrates; 2g fiber; 13g sugar; 3g protein; 95mg sodium.

Mini Cherry Phyllo Pie: lighter take, same great taste 06/26/14 [Last modified: Thursday, June 26, 2014 6:09pm]
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