Almond and Date Pastries

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Small bites of sweetness is how I will describe these!  Since I began watching calories(about 6 months ago ), I am always looking to make small size desserts – you know, just a little something to satisfy the sweet cravings (which I invariably get after dinner 🙂 ).  OK so ever since I saw the recipe for these delicate pastries with an almond filling in this lovely book called ‘North African Cooking’ by Hilaire Walden, I have been dying to make them. And then La Petite Paniere also posted her beautiful almond cigars recipe and tempted me even further with her lovely pictures :). So finally I made these last week (the book called these as ‘samsas’ ) where I used phyllo pastry sheets for the pastry and decided to add dates to the filling too so I could cut down on the sugar.  And I didn’t have orange flower water so I decided to add cardamom for flavor, which by the way is great in desserts, if you have never tried it before.  Toasted sesame seeds added on top makes this a perfect little crunchy sweet treat with a lot of healthy goodness in it!  So there you go – indulge guilt free!  Have a  Happy Weekend folks and Happy Fiesta Friday to all my blogger friends! 🙂

This recipe will make about 18 pastries
(recipe adapted from the book
'North African cooking' by Hilaire walden)
Time taken: About 1 hour; Preparation time: 40 minutes;
Baking tine: 15-20 minutes
Ingredients:
For the syrup:
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup honey
pinch of powdered cardamom
For the filling:
1 1/4 cup ground almonds
1/2 cup chopped dates
1/4 tsp Cardamom
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp of above syrup
6 sheets of frozen phyllo pastry (a couple extra
since they are delicate and you could tear them)
butter or olive oil for brushing the sheets
2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

Method:

Take the frozen phyllo sheets out from the freezer and keep it to thaw at room temperature (according to package directions).

Pre heat oven to 350 F.

Make the syrup by taking all the syrup ingredients (except the cardamom) in a small pot and cooking on medium heat until you get a thick syrup (about 5-7 minutes).  After taking off from the heat and after it cools a bit, add the cardamom and keep aside.

Prepare filling by taking all the filling ingredients (except syrup) in a medium size bowl and then slowly add the syrup until you get a coarse pasty consistency. Keep this aside.

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Once the phyllo sheets are thawed, carefully take about 6 sheets out of the package (these are very delicate so you need to handle very carefully) and place them on a tray/plate covered with a damp paper towel / kitchen towel.  Now take one sheet at a time out and follow the steps below:

1. Take a sheet and place it on a wooden surface or cutting board and brush with olive oil/butter (I used a mixture of olive oil and butter)

2. Cut each sheet into 3 pieces lengthwise using a knife.

3. Place a spoonful of filling at the base of each strip and then carefully fold the sides inside (see pic) and then roll the pastry along the length to form a small roll.

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4. Seal the edges by brushing with olive oil inside.  Also brush outside of the pastry with olive oil.

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Once all the rolls have been formed, arrange them on  a baking tray and bake at 350 f for about 15-20 minutes turning them once midway so that they are browned equally on all sides.

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Place the toasted sesame seeds on  a small plate.  Dip the baked pastries one by one in the remaining syrup (just a little dip) and then roll them on the sesame seeds to coat.

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IMG_4365Almond and date pastry

You can serve these either warm or cold. (I liked them warm!)

Notes:

1.Phyllo dough is an extremely delicate pastry to work with so make sure you keep them covered with a damp cloth so that they don’t dry out (but not too wet otherwise they will stick together!)

2. While dipping the baked pastries in syrup in the end, make sure you dip just a little so that the crispness of the pastry is still retained.

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