Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Chocolate Parthenons

Well, I decided that I would try something different, using phyllo pastry sheets.  I was nervous, so I purchased double the amount required for this recipe.  I am glad I did, because I was halfway through making these little pouches when I finally felt at ease.  The sheets are not ideal for the heavy handed or the impatient, but I did get through it and still had some left over.  There were some sheets torn in the process, but less that I expected.

Dealing with the phyllo is probably the most difficult thing in this recipe.  The rest came together really quickly.  This is a perfect recipe for first timers, since I did not have any problem except for the few sheets that were torn.  I also needed more butter than recommended when I got to the stage where the outside is brushed after the phyllo package is formed.  Now that I have dealt with phyllo sheets, I am hooked. The smell of the baked buttery sheets is so intoxicating.   

By now you are wondering what is in this phyllo package?! Simply put- it is pure, sinful indulgence.  If you can imagine, think about crunching into these buttery flakes of phyllo and reaching a brownie-like chunk of cake packed with chocolate chips and walnuts. There you have it.  For those without a vivid imagination.....

Now on to the recipe...

Chocolate Parthenons
courtesy of Bon Appetit (prior to 2005)

20 phyllo pastry sheets (this will make 10 pouches)
1-12oz package of semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 cups chopped and toasted walnuts
4 eggs
1 cup and 2 tbs melted butter (2 1/4 sticks)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tbs brandy
1 tbs vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Optional toppings:
Powdered sugar
Chocolate syrup

Prepare 10 tartlet pans (4x1 inch) by buttering all the insides.  Pans with removable bottoms are recommended but if you have the solid ones, place a parchment round in the bottom and butter it as well.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs.  Then stir in the sugar until evenly dispersed.  Add the brandy, vanilla extract and 2 tbs of butter and mix together.  Set aside.

Sift together flour, salt and cinnamon.  Stir this dry mixture into the wet egg mixture.  Fold in the chocolate chips and walnuts.  Set the filling aside while you prepare the phyllo packages.

Place 2 phyllo sheets (one on top of another)on a work surface.  Cover the rest with a damp towel or plastic wrap so it will not dry out.  Brush the surface of the top phyllo sheet with butter.  Cut sheets in half, so you have two rectangles measuring 9X13.  The cut each half again to form 3 sections, measuring 9X4 1/2.  You should have a total of six sections.

Take one section and place the end inside one of the tart pans leaving the rest of the section to go up  over the edge of the pan and lay flat on the surface outside..  This will be like the first spoke of a wheel.  Continue the same process with the 5 strips, overlapping slightly and going around the outer edge of the pan like spokes.

Place 1/2 cup of the filling inside the pan on top of the phyllo.  Then gather all of the strips towards the center.  Carefully twist the phyllo  strips (1/4 turn) and squeeze slightly to form a top knot. Then brush with melted butter.

Preheat the oven to 350 degress. Then repeat the cutting and forming of the purses on the additional 9 tartlet pans.  Place tartlet pans on baking sheets and bake until the phyllo turns a golden color, which is about 40 minutes.  Once baked, remove from oven and cool slightly.  Carefully lift off or out of tartlet pans by holding the packages on each side, right above the pan edge.  You do not want to touch the top knot.  Place on dessert plate and if you want, dust with confectioners sugar and pour on chocolate syrup.

These purses can be prepared one day in advance and refrigerated.  Also, they are tasty both at room temperature or warmed.