Have you ever eaten kataifi? It’s a shredded phyllo dough that’s available frozen in Greek or specialty food stores. Admittedly, it’s not easy to find, so if you can’t locate it near you, use regular phyllo dough instead.
I’ve been wanting to cook with kataifi for a long time and I finally took the plunge when a friend let me pick figs from her tree. The tartlet is stuffed with an almond flavored pastry cream and I served these as dessert at a dinner we attended last night. You could also switch things up and make this a savory appetizer, using a whipped, herbed ricotta or goat cheese instead of the pastry cream.
Kataifi is really simple to use, but slightly messy. Don’t worry about trying to be neat, because they have a certain charm with their little tendrils sticking every which way. Push the dough down into the tartlet tin, then drizzle with melted butter and bake.
They come out a nice golden color and look like pale bird nests.
Before the tartlets went into the oven, I cut the figs in half, drizzled with a little honey and roasted them on parchment paper for about 15-20 minutes, letting the flavors intensify.
The dessert is a cinch to put together before serving. Just place a dollop of the cream into each tartlet and top with a roasted fig. Drizzle a little more honey over each tartlet. You can make everything ahead of time and assemble before serving.
They pop in the mouth like candy, and deliver a great combination of flavors and textures – crunchy and soft. You’ll want to make a big platter of these because they disappear in a flash, if last night’s dinner party was any indication. There were two lonely tartlets left on the platter that nobody had the courage to grab. But the hostess assured me she was going to enjoy them after we had all left.
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- 1 box kataifi shredded phyllo
- melted butter (quantity depends on how much phyllo you use)
- 3.4 oz. box vanilla instant pudding
- 2 cups milk
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- ½ cup whipping cream
- fresh figs (quantity depends on how many tartlets you make)
- honey to drizzle
- Take kataifi from freezer and let thaw in refrigerator overnight.
- Bring to room temperature.
- Place the figs on a baking sheet lined with parchment, and drizzle with honey.
- Roast at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes.
- Remove figs from oven, and lower temperature to 375 degrees.
- While figs are roasting, start making the kataifi cups.
- Working with a small amount at a time, take kataifi in your fingers and press and swirl to fit into small tartlet tins.
- When you're not working with it, keep the rest of the kataifi under a kitchen towel to keep it from drying out.
- Drizzle a little melted butter on each tartlet.
- Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes, or until golden.
- Remove from oven and let rest on paper towels.
- Make the pudding according to package directions, but add 1 teaspoon of almond extract.
- Whip the heavy cream and fold into the pudding mixture.
- Place a dollop of the cream mixture and a roasted fig atop each tartlet.
- Drizzle with a little honey and decorate with a mint leaf, if desired.