Finger foods go hand in hand with the holidays – my favourite meals start with a platter of finger foods, move on to shared family mains with everyone passing plates and laughing, and end with a fancy dessert. What’s a dead giveaway that a dessert is fancy? It comes to you plated (rather than grabbing cookies out of a bag, let’s say), warm and delicious.
There’s something luxurious about warm desserts that are just garnished for the holidays, with berries tumbling to the side as you carry it out to guests. But luxurious doesn’t always have to mean complicated. I recently took to making one of simplest of desserts that looks the fanciest and perfect for the holidays: Raspberry Ricotta “Strudel.” I’m calling it a strudel for how it’s wrapped up, but I’ll concede it’s not the classic type. And it uses store-bought phyllo sheets, which adds to its’ ease.
The trick to making it fancy is in how you lay out the phyllo sheets. You set them out flat, butter and layer them, then crinkle them in the middle, creating crevasses and creases that will get crunchy and flaky when baked. The mix of the soft and sweet ricotta with savoury and crunchy phyllo makes for a dessert that seems more complicated than it is to make. You can assemble these in minutes and pop them in the oven to get back to entertaining without a worry.
Raspberry Ricotta Strudel
(Makes approximately 12 desserts)
1 tub/475g Tre Stelle® Extra Smooth Ricotta Cheese
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
1 package/454g phyllo pastry
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/2 pint fresh raspberries
Icing sugar (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
Mix together Tre Stelle® Ricotta Cheese, sugar, and eggs. Wash raspberries and gently pat dry.
Remove phyllo pastry from the packaging and lay the sheets out flat. Remove one sheet and lay it out flat on a clean work surface. Using a pastry brush, lightly coat the sheet with melted butter. Cover with another sheet of phyllo and repeat the butter. Using the tips of your fingers, gently crumple the centre of the phyllo sheets to create a slightly crinkled look. Place three to four table spoons of the Ricotta mixture on the phyllo, about three inches from the short end of the sheets. Place 5 raspberries on the ricotta. To wrap the Ricotta mixture, fold the short end the phyllo over the Ricotta and raspberries, tuck in the ends and continue to roll until the phyllo creates a closed envelope. Transfer to your baking sheet. While working on the phyllo, be sure to cover the sheets not in use with a lightly damp towel to keep them moist.
Bake phyllo packets for 15-20 minutes until they are golden brown and crispy. Remove from the oven and place on individual plates immediately. Garnish with icing sugar and more raspberries.