Crunchy, buttery phyllo shells filled with rich, smooth cappuccino cream. Make lots of these bite-sized lovelies because they will go quickly (if they even make it out of the kitchen).
I don’t know if it’s a weird inverted class thing, but I’m always hesitant to make and promote a recipe that sounds – let’s say a bit too fancy. I imagine serving it up to a family of simple Northern playwrights and gauging their reaction. Would my guests nibble appreciatively while explaining how the semiotic thickness of a performed text varies with the redundancy of auxiliary performance codes? Or would they prod at the food uncomprehendingly and declare that they remembered this town when it were all fields? It’s always in the back of my mind, that.
And then I found this recipe and thought, sod it, let’s do this.
The original recipe (from Martha Stewart) uses a standard-sized muffin tray, and would have created phyllo cups the size of actual muffins, which in my opinion is a little insane. I mean, I like whipped cream, but for a casual house party you don’t want to be responsible for too many cardiac arrests. So I switched it out for a mini-muffin tray, which made perfect bite-size party desserts. We also added a little mascarpone cheese to give the cream a little more body, and Baileys because … booze good.
To be honest with you, I’d never worked with phyllo pastry before, so wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but it’s all pretty easy. You’re not going to use up a whole box of phyllo unless you’re throwing a huge bash, so re-freeze the unused sheets (wrap them tightly in a zip-lock bag).
Surprisingly enough, both the cream AND the cups can be made up to a day ahead but once they’re filled, they need to be served pretty quickly, in about 30 minutes, or the cups can go soggy. (If you’ve whipped the cream a day ahead, you could always re-whip for just a few seconds if you want a little extra-fluff in your dollop).
One warning: make lots because these will be gobbled up pretty quickly.
[Emily says: These would be perfect for a holiday / Christmas / New Year’s Eve party because they’re rich and delicious and just a little boozy … but also cute and tiny!]
Even the simple Northern playwrights will like them.
- 6 sheets frozen phyllo dough, thawed
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
- 1 cup heavy cream, cold
- 2 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk
- ¼ cup mascarpone cheese
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Coarse salt
- ½ teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 tablespoons Baileys or Kahlua (optional)
- Preheat oven to 325.
- Melt butter in a small saucepan or in a bowl in the microwave.
- Phyllo dries out very quickly so lay a very slightly damp towel over the unused sheets while you work). Lay one sheet of phyllo flat on a work surface. Brush phyllo with butter and sprinkle with sugar (about 2 teaspoons worth).
- Repeat layering twice more with phyllo, butter, and sugar (so you have three layers of phyllo).
- Cut stacked phyllo into 12 pieces that are approximately 3 inches square and gently press each square into a cup of a mini muffin pan, crimping edges as needed so phyllo sits flat in bottom of cup.
- Repeat with the next sheets until all the cups are filled.
- Bake until phyllo is golden brown, about 20 minutes, rotating pan halfway through.
- Let cool completely in pan on a wire rack. You can store them (un-filled) for up to 2 days in tupperware. They’re delicate so don’t squish them.
- Meanwhile, in a medium bowl or a stand mixer, combine espresso powder with a small amount cream and stir until powder dissolves. Stir in remaining cream, condensed milk, mascarpone, cinnamon, liquor (if using) and pinch of salt.
- Beat until firm but not dry peaks form. Refrigerate until ready to serve (up to 2 days).
- Fill phyllo cups with cappuccino cream and sprinkle with cocoa powder. Serve immediately.
Hand or stand mixer