A while back, I made some phyllo tartlets with some of the first fresh strawberries of the season and loved them for both their flavor and ease. I recently made some with cherries, after cooking them slightly and making a simple syrup from their juices. The tart-sweet cherries combined with the lemon mascarpone cream reminded me of a cheesecake, and the crisp phyllo gave it a great crunch. Just three bites and I was reaching for another one…I suspect just about any variation of fresh fruit would be tasty in these little tartlets, and I just might have to try them out! These would be great in red, white, and blue for a July 4th celebration.
Cherry Phyllo Tartlets with Lemon Mascarpone Cream
- 2 sets of 5-layer 30 x 31 cm. phyllo dough sheets, cut into 10 x 10 cm. squares (with a little leftover, you can just make some slightly bigger) to make a total of 18 squares with 5 layers each. For American measurements — that’s 18 4 x 4 inch squares with 5 layers each.
- 1 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted
- 36 cherries (or other fruit of choice), pitted and sliced in half
- granulated sugar (I used a muscovado) to taste (1 to 2 Tbs.)
- 2-3 drops of almond extract
- 500 g. (about 18 oz.) mascarpone cheese
- zest and juice of one lemon (more or less to taste)
- confectioners sugar to taste — 2 to 3 Tbs.
- pinch of salt
Preheat the oven to 350 F/ 180 C. Have the melted butter ready and work quickly to cut the phyllo dough into 5-layered squares. Use a pastry brush to butter in between each layer and on the top layer. Place these inside the cups of regular-size muffin tins (use two or do in two batches) and pleat edges to form cups. You can stagger the layers of dough at different angles to make a well-rounded top with lots of corners, kind of flower-like (optional). Bake until crisped and slightly golden brown, about 12 minutes. Meanwhile, combine the cherries, granulated sugar and almond extract in a small saucepan and cook gently until cherries soften just slightly and a syrup forms (Note: if they need more liquid, add a bit of lemon juice or water), then remove from heat. Prepare the filling: mix the mascarpone, zest, juice, sugar and pinch of salt until smooth. Remove the phyllo cups from the oven and let cool. Fill with the lemon mascarpone (using an icing piping bag helps get in the nooks and crannies, but you can just gently spoon in and push down if you don’t have one). Top with the cooled cherries and syrup. Serve immediately. Note: if using at a later time, you can keep the components separate and then assemble right before serving.