Desserts using phyllo dough can be a great way to finish a meal. Reminiscent of baklava, but in tiny cookies, this fig phyllo recipe is full of fruity nutty filling and easier to make than baklava too.
Simply Sweet: Sugar Syrup
The first thing you do is make a sugar syrup. Sometimes in baklava, the recipes include honey instead. For the sugar syrup here, a bit of orange zest and juice give it a citrusy flavor. All the ingredients boil in a small saucepan until the sugar has dissolved. Then, the heat is lowered to cook the syrup until thickened and reduced.
Filling for the Fig Phyllo Recipe
For this recipe we suggest using Orchard Choice or Sun-Maid Golden Figs with their tangy, delicately sweet and nutty flavor to marry with the nuts. You could swap in Mission Figs instead for an earthy, jammy sweetness.
For the filling, you’ll rehydrate the figs, simmering them with more orange zest, sugar, water, and anise seeds until thickened syrupy. Then, set aside off-heat to cool for 1 hour until room temperature. Next, process the fig mixture into a paste in the food processor before pulsing in walnuts and sherry. Transfer the filling to a zip-sealed bag and then snip off a 1-inch opening off the corner.
Baking Tips: Desserts Using Phyllo Dough
If you’re intimidated about baking desserts using phyllo dough, there’s just a few things to keep in mind. If you’re using frozen phyllo dough, take note that it should first thaw in the refrigerator for 8 hours, so overnight is great. Always thaw the phyllo to room temperature—about 1 to 2 hours on the counter should do the trick. Then, the other thing is once the package is opened, make sure to cover the phyllo with a damp (not wet) towel so the phyllo doesn’t dry out.
Ready to Bake
For these flaky cookies, place a sheet of the phyllo dough with long side parallel to the counter edge before brushing with oil and dusting with a bit of sugar. You’ll repeat the process two more times for a total of three layers of phyllo. Then, leaving 1 1/2-inch border along the edge, half the filling is piped along the bottom edge of the phyllo. You’ll fold that bottom flap up and then keep rolling the phyllo away from you into a firm cylinder. Place the cylinder seam-side down and then use a serrated knife to slice 12 equal pieces, placed 1 1/2 inches apart on the baking sheet. Then, you’ll repeat that process with the remaining three phyllo sheets and filling.
Bake the flaky cookies on the middle rack at 375F on parchment lined rimmed baking sheets until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes, rotating the sheet pans halfway during baking.
Flaky Cookies with Fig Phyllo Recipe
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tbsp water
- 2 tbsp honey
- 2 strips orange zest 2" strips
- 2 tbsp orange juice
- 1 1/2 cups Orchard Choice or Sun-Maid California Figs stemmed and halved
- 3/4 cup water
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tsp orange zest
- 1/2 tsp anise seeds
- 1/2 cup walnuts toasted and chopped coarse
- 1 tbsp dry sherry
- 6 phyllo sheets thawed, 14"x9"
- 1/4 cup olive oil extra virgin
- 2 tbsp confectioner's sugar
For the Sugar Syrup
- Bring all ingredients to boil in small saucepan over medium-high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until sugar has dissolved, about 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until syrup is thickened and slightly reduced, about 3 minutes. Discard zest and transfer syrup to bowl; set aside.
For the Fig Filling
- Bring figs, water, sugar, orange zest, and anise seeds to simmer in now-empty saucepan over medium heat and cook until thickened and syrupy, about 5 minutes. Let fig mixture cool to room temperature, about 1 hour.
- Process fig mixture in food processor until paste forms, about 15 seconds. Scrape down sides of bowl, add walnuts and sherry, and pulse until walnuts are finely chopped, about 10 pulses. Transfer filling to zipper-lock bag and snip off 1 corner to create 1-inch opening.
For the Pastry
- Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Place 1 phyllo sheet on counter with long side parallel to counter edge, brush lightly with oil, then dust with 1 teaspoon sugar. Repeat with 2 more phyllo sheets, brushing each with oil and dusting with 1 teaspoon sugar (you should have total of 3 layers of phyllo).
- Pipe half of filling along bottom edge of phyllo, leaving 1½-inch border along edge. Fold bottom edge of phyllo over filling, then continue rolling phyllo away from you into firm cylinder. With cylinder seam side down, use serrated knife to cut cylinder into 12 equal pieces. Arrange cookies on prepared sheet, spaced 1½ inches apart. Repeat with remaining 3 phyllo sheets, oil, sugar, and filling and arrange on sheet.
- Bake cookies until light golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through baking. Drizzle warm cookies with syrup and let cool for 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire rack and let cool completely before serving. (Cookies can be stored at room temperature for up to 4 days.)