I love these little pastries. Their crisp and flaky exterior hide a sweet, rich and creamy surprise. A lovely lemon scented custard made with basic pantry ingredients semolina, sugar, butter and milk, and counter intuitively – no eggs. Whisked up in minutes in a saucepan over the stove. As long as the semolina is added in a thin, steady stream there’s no lumps. Of course an advantage of an eggless custard is that there’s no dreaded possibility of any curdling.
‘Custard’ made, all you have to do is unroll a package of fresh phylo pastry. Working one sheet at a time, brush each liberally with butter as you fold, fill and form them into fat little cigars. I always find it useful to outsource this step to the nimble fingers of my resident keen nosed helpers. They who seem to have a penchant for sniffing out the merest hint of baking in the kitchen, at just a moment’s notice.
After all many hands do make light work and those who roll also happen to be very enthusiastic scoffers of these little Greek semolina custard phylo cigars. Eating them warm by the trayful, straight out of the oven. Fortunately for them, this gorgeous little sweet fix is a snap to make. Proof that you really don’t need fancy ingredients for an impressive dessert.
Little Greek Semolina Custard Phylo Cigars
Makes about 2 dozen cigars
24 sheets from one package (375g) fresh phylo pastry
750 ml (3 cups) milk
1/2 cup caster sugar
long thinly peeled strips of lemon zest from one lemon
3/4 cup fine semolina
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
freshly squeezed juice of one lemon
120g butter, extra, to brush phylo sheets
icing sugar, to dust
PREHEAT oven to 200 C. Line a large oven tray with baking paper.
To Make The Semolina Custard Filling
COMBINE sugar, milk and lemon zest in a saucepan. Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add butter. When butter has melted remove the strips of lemon zest.
STIRRING continuously, gradually whisk in semolina in a thin steady stream. Cook, stirring for 3 minutes until the mixture thickens and pulls away from the sides of the pan.
ADD vanilla extract and lemon juice. Stir to combine. Allow mixture to cool slightly before assembling the cigars.
To Assemble The Phylo Cigars
UNROLL phylo pastry and place between two clean tea towels on the benchtop.
MELT extra butter in a microwave or saucepan over low heat.
For Each Cigar
TAKE one phylo sheet, brush with butter, fold in half, butter again and refold in half again until you have a small rectangle.
TAKE a tablespoonful of the filling and place it near the edge of the shortest side. Fold the long edges of the phylo sheet over the filling.
ROLL up the sheet. Brush the edge of the sheet with a little more butter to seal.
PLACE rolled cigar seam side down on the prepared baking tray.
CONTINUE to roll cigars with the remaining phylo sheets until all the filling is used.
PLACE full tray in preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes until golden.
ALLOW to cool for 10 minutes before dusting with icing sugar. Serve warm.