A good rule of thumb when it comes to staying sane in the kitchen is: don’t be a hero. Make what you enjoy and take help where you can get it. For example: we’ve seen enough episodes of The Great British Baking Show to know that attempting to hand-make incredibly finicky, paper-thin sheets of perfectly even phyllo dough is beyond us, thank you very much. Luckily we don’t need to be star bakers because pre-made, frozen phyllo is wonderful and readily available at most larger grocery stores. Take that, Paul Hollywood!
There are lots of ways to use phyllo – to encase a Chicken, Ricotta and Swiss Chard Torte, as the ruffled topping for a Creamy Chicken and Caramelized Onion Pot Pie, or as Mini Phyllo Cups with Cappuccino Cream. Here we use it to make crisp little triangular parcels stuffed with a delicious mix of cheeses (tangy goat and earthy smoked mozzarella). A few cubes of fresh peach and a sprinkle of herbal thyme round out the flavor. This is exactly what we want to snack on while drinking a glass of full-bodied wine, like our new favorite from California, Rebellious.
Rebellious, a red wine Blend from california
When Rebellious contacted us about about developing a recipe that would complement their wine, we knew we wanted to go bold with flavor. Because Rebellious is not an ordinary wine. It’s a deep, luxurious red that has an unexpected twist: a dash of white. The combination brings brightness and acidity to the rich notes of dark cherry, brown sugar, dark chocolate and cola. Hints of cardamom, black pepper, sandalwood and licorice add spice to the glass. There are layers of flavor in the wine, and we wanted to mirror that in the dish we would serve along with it.
Rebellious is the perfect wine to enjoy with a few friends, while you snack on a board of excellent cheese and charcuterie. Maybe some ripe figs and spicy salami. We like to add something warm to the table while keeping the mood fun and informal and these Goat Cheese-stuffed Phyllo Triangles fit the bill perfectly. They can be enjoyed as finger-food or served plated as a first course. The shatteringly crisp phyllo dough encases a warm, decadent filling of tart chèvre (fresh goat cheese), smoked mozzarella, tiny cubes of fresh peach and a scattering of herbal thyme leaves. Don’t forget the spicy honey drizzle!
What is Phyllo Dough (AKA FILO)?
Phyllo dough, a style of unleavened pastry dough used to make both sweet and savory dishes, is thought to have originated in Medieval Turkey in the 11th century. It’s a common ingredient in many Middle Eastern and Mediterranean dishes, probably best known for the Greek dessert, Baklava. It’s usually brushed with melted butter or olive oil, and can be layered, stacked, ruffled, rolled or folded. When baked, it creates a crisp and flaky texture.
You’ll most often find it sold as 9 x 14-inch sheets, though 14 x 18-inch sheets are available. We find the large sheets much more difficult to handle and almost always use the smaller size, including here. The large sheets can be cut in half for this recipe.
This is a simple filling that combines the tart creaminess of fresh goat cheese with gooey smoked mozzarella. A little grated garlic and fresh thyme round out the flavor. We added little cubes of fresh peach because it’s peach season here and we couldn’t resist. If peaches are not in season you could absolutely use frozen, or substitute just a little spoonful of peach preserves. You could also leave the fruit out since there will be plenty of sweetness from the hot honey drizzle. Note that we don’t mix the peach cubes into the filling since they’re soft and would dissolve.
Speaking of the hot honey drizzle
This stuff is amazing on anything. Try it with a sharp blue cheese or an aged cheddar. Drizzle it on pepperoni pizza. Yes, pizza. Or cornbread, roasted figs, or fried chicken. We like using fruity, moderately spicy Aleppo-style pepper flakes, but any pepper flakes you have in your spice drawer will work. If you’re not sure how hot your flakes are, start with 1 teaspoon and keep adding until you like the heat level. The heat will grow a bit as the honey sits. The Hot Honey will keep in a sealed glass jar for weeks.
Assemble the Triangles
The phyllo sheets dry out quickly so make sure all the filling elements are ready before you unwrap the dough. Keep the phyllo under a very slightly moist kitchen towel. Take one phyllo sheet from under the towel and lay it on a clean work surface (a large cutting board is perfect). Brush the sheet lightly with melted butter. The easiest way without ripping the dough is to dot little spots of butter all over, then gently distribute it with the brush. (The pastry doesn’t need to be doused with butter, just moistened.) Repeat the process with 2 more sheets, making a layered stack of 3 buttered sheets of dough. Don’t worry if there are a few little tears or cracks, phyllo is very forgiving.
Using a sharp knife or a pizza cutter, cut the sheet into 3 long strips. Add about a tablespoon of the cheese mixture to one end of the strips, about an inch from the end. Nestle a few cubes of peach (or a scant 1/2 teaspoon of preserves) on top of the cheese. Fold one corner of the pastry up and over the filling, forming a triangle. Then fold the triangle straight forward, then again on a diagonal. Continue folding, forming a triangle each time, until you reach the end of the strip. Don’t overthink it, any way you fold it and end up with a triangle will be fine. Place the triangles on a parchment-lined baking tray and cover them with another lightly moistened towel so they don’t dry out.
Once assembled, lightly brush the tops with just a little more butter. Bake the stuffed phyllo triangles in a pre-heated 375ºF oven until they turn golden brown and crisp, about 20 to 25 minutes. Let them cool for at least 10 minutes before biting into them.
Store them in the refrigerator once they’ve cooled to room temperature. They reheat beautifully and can be made a full day or two ahead. To reheat them, place them on a baking tray on a single layer. Place them in a 250ºF oven until crisp and warmed through, about 10 minutes.
You can freeze the unbaked stuffed phyllo for up to 2 weeks in airtight containers, separated by layers of parchment. When ready, bake them straight from the freezer, adding 5 to 7 minutes to the baking time.
Goat Cheese-stuffed Phyllo Triangles with Hot Honey Drizzle
For the Phyllo Triangles
- 8 ounces goat cheese (chèvre), room temperature
- 4 ounces smoked mozzarella cheese cut into small (about 1/4-inch) cubes
- 1 medium garlic clove grated or minced
- 2 teaspoons minced thyme leaves (or 1 teaspoon dried) plus more for garnish
- 1 extra large egg lightly beaten
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 18 sheets 9×14-inch frozen phyllo dough, thawed*
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
- 1 small ripe peach peeled, cut into small cubes (or about about 1/4 cup frozen and thawed) or 1/4 cup peach preserves
For the Hot Honey Drizzle
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1 -2 teaspoons Aleppo-style chili flakes or 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
- Add the goat cheese, mozzarella, garlic, thyme, eggs, salt and pepper to a large bowl. Mix well until fully combined.
- Heat the oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
- Lay one sheet phyllo dough on a clean work surface; lightly but thoroughly brush with melted butter. Place another sheet of phyllo on top of the first and brush it with butter. Repeat with a third sheet of phyllo and brush it with butter. Use a sharp knife or pizza cutter to cut the short side of the phyllo into 3 long strips.
- Place 1 tablespoon of the filling about an inch from the bottom of each phyllo strip. Place a couple of cubes of peach on top of each mound of filling (or substitute a 1/2 teaspoon of peach preserves). Fold the lower right corner of the pastry up and over the filling, forming a triangle. Fold the triangle straight forward, then again on a diagonal. Continue folding, forming a triangle each time, until you reach the end of the strip.
- Transfer to the lined baking sheet and lightly brush the triangle on top with a little more butter. Use the remaining phyllo and filling to make the rest of the triangles, placing them on the baking sheets with a little space in between each. Bake the triangles until golden brown, about 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.
- While the triangles are baking, make the hot honey. Add the honey and chili flakes to a small sauce pan and heat on low, stirring often, simmering. Turn off heat and stir in the vinegar. Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then transfer to a small serving bowl or airtight container.
- Serve the triangles warm, with a drizzle of Hot Honey over each.