One of my particularly wonderful friends is engaged, and two of her girlfriends organized a brunch this weekend to celebrate with Janet. With a view for bringing a dessert that was slightly fancier than what I would normally make, I decided to take the plunge and experiment with filo pastry for the first time.
Most filo pastry recipes seem to be written in a tone of trepidation and near-reverence for the delicate sheets of dough, and I had avoided using it for fear of tearing the sheets with my untrained, ungainly hands. Like so many other things in life that I’ve been too apprehensive to try until recently, anxieties about my presumed incompetence with filo pastry manipulation proved to be grossly exaggerated.
All of this time, I had been missing out on the delicious fastidiousness of peeling apart the pastry sheets. Some of the filo sheets will inevitably rip or stick together, but this rarely results in outright pastry devastation. In the end, I was pleased with how these whimsical little pockets turned out.
Musical inspiration: Sarah Harmer’s latest, Oh Little Fire.
- Whole wheat filo pastry (available at Choices Markets)
- Vegetable oil spray
- 1.5 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 pericarp of star anise, ground in coffee grinder or with mortar and pestle
- 1/8 tsp powdered cloves
- 1/4 tsp powdered nutmeg
- 8 large Spartan apples (organic and BC-grown are still available at this time of year!)
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 2 Tbsp arrowroot powder
Thaw the filo pastry according to package directions (this will take some planning in advance). Preheat oven to 365°F.
In a very large saucepan, boil about 1 cm of water. Add the apples, spices, lemon juice and sugar. Stew the apples on medium-low heat for about 10-minutes, or until fruit is the softness of an apple pie filling. Sprinkle in the arrowroot powder, and stir thoroughly until all of the powder is absorbed and the mixture has developed a somewhat sticky consistency.
Each individual fou fou consists of two sheets of filo pastry: Carefully peel apart a single filo pastry sheet. Fold it in half once, and brush with a very quick spray of vegetable oil. Fold in half once more and spray again. Following the same procedure with a second sheet of pastry, lay the second sheet on top of the first at a slight diagonal (see photo above).
Scoop a dollop of apple mixture into the center of the pastry, and fold the corners inward, pinching the top together such that the raw edges evoke a flower corolla shape. Spray and brush the outside of the pastry one last time with a tiny amount of vegetable oil. Repeat with the remaining apple mixture and filo, and bake the fou fous on a greased cookie sheet for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown. Makes 7 fou fous, depending on how many filo pastry sheets survive the indelicacy of one’s fingers.