I didn’t choose to make this recipe just because it has a very long title (even though I am partial to recipes with long, descriptive names). I purchased The Kitchn Cookbook at West Elm back in October and had the pleasure of meeting the very friendly Faith Durand, who was signing cookbooks there. I remember feeling very flustered and disheveled (though I wasn’t really the latter). My son was not yet 3 months old, and it was one of the first times I had left the house, because I was certain he would starve or suffer some great injury if I left him for any amount of time. I was nervous, too, because I don’t have such a great track record with getting things signed, but my fears were unfounded there, as it was the least awkward signing I’ve ever been to.
I flipped through the cookbook when I got home that evening, putting it on my “to read” list. I actually like to read cookbooks as if they are books and hear the chef or recipe developer’s thoughts on cooking equipment, techniques, and perhaps interesting stories from their lives and kitchens. Unfortunately, I don’t have as much time to do this as I would like, so The Kitchn Cookbook made its way onto my shelf with its other neglected brethren.
When I recently paid a visit to West Elm to buy a new coffee table and end table, it was a completely different experience from the last time I was there. Nolan was at home with his Daddy, and I was as carefree as could be. I sat around talking up the pieces I was about to purchase to other prospective buyers. I worked in a furniture store as the receptionist-slash-office-assistant for over 3 years in college, so I may have accidentally picked up some habits from my friends, the salespeople. Last I heard, I had talked one couple into adding an end table on to their order.
Being back in West Elm reminded me that I definitely needed to pull The Kitchn Cookbook off the shelf. I debated between several of the desserts in the book, lingering especially long on the Cinnamon Toast Bread Pudding Cupcakes, but this recipe caught my eye. I typically prefer fruit-based desserts over all others, so its promise of “spiced fruit” intrigued me with the implication that multiple fruits would be involved in the endeavor. Golden raisins, dates, oranges, lemons, and pomegranates each make their way into this dish, all of them miraculously in season. (Well, maybe not the dates, but dried fruit is evergreen.)
This recipe allured me because I had no idea what it was. It doesn’t have a tidy or poetic foreign name like baklava or mille-feuille, though by reading through the recipe, I suspected it would resemble a marriage of the two. I have also never used “raw” yogurt in a recipe. Sure, I’ve put it in cakes, but, to my mind, cold yogurt is an everyday breakfast food: something healthy, and, therefore, an enemy to dessert.
But, as they say, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. When you combine all these healthy ingredients, you get a drop dead gorgeous dessert that is decadent enough for a dinner party and takes less than an hour to put together (and the components can be made ahead, even!). I have contemplated that this dessert could easily be made vegan with Greek cultured coconut milk, so I’m including that option in the recipe, despite it not being listed in the original. I am nothing if not inclusive.
- 6 sheets phyllo dough, thawed
- ¼ cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3-4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Zest from 1 orange (about 1 tablespoon)
- Juice from 1 orange (about ¼ cup)
- 2 tablespoons (25 grams) granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons (40 grams) honey (vegans, substitute agave nectar)
- ½ cup (80 grams) golden raisins, roughly chopped
- 1 cup (120 grams) roasted unsalted pistachios, roughly chopped
- ½ cup (80 grams) pitted dates, roughly chopped
- ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1 cup (225 grams) whole milk Greek yogurt (or Greek cultured coconut milk, for the vegan option)
- 1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar
- Zest of 1 lemon (about 2 teaspoons)
- ½ cup pomegranate arils
- ¼ cup pistachios, chopped
- 1-2 tablespoons honey or agave nectar, warmed
- Preheat oven to 400°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon mat.
- Place phyllo sheets on your work surface and cover with a lightly damp towel. In a small bowl, stir together sugar and cinnamon. Pour olive oil into another small bowl.
- Carefully remove one sheet of phyllo dough and place it on your prepared baking sheet, re-covering the rest of the dough with the damp towel. Brush a thin layer of olive oil over the sheet using a pastry brush. Sprinkle with a bit less than 1 tablespoon of the cinnamon-sugar. Repeat with 4 more layers of dough, using up the last of the sugar with one sheet of phyllo dough remaining. Place the last sheet of phyllo dough and brush with olive oil.
- Use a pastry wheel, a pizza cutter, or kitchen shears to cut the phyllo stacks in half lengthwise and then into thirds crosswise. Cut each of the resulting 6 squares in half crosswise to make 12 even rectangles. Carefully pull the rectangles apart and space them out a bit on the baking sheet. Bake for 7-8 minutes, until crispy and golden brown. Let cool completely on a wire rack.
- (Make Ahead: The phyllo rectangles can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.)
- In a medium saucepan, combine orange zest, orange juice, sugar, and honey. Bring to a boil over medium heat and dissolve the honey, then remove pan from heat and stir in raisins. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, toss pistachios and dates with the cardamom until fully coated. Add the spiced nut and fruit mixture to the syrup and raisins. Stir to coat and distribute, then set aside to marinate for at least 30 minutes.
- (Make Ahead: Store fruit & nut mixture in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.)
- While the fruit & nut mix is marinating, whisk together yogurt, confectioners' sugar, and lemon zest in a small bowl until thoroughly combined.
- (Make Ahead: Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate up to 5 days).
- Place one phyllo rectangle on a dessert plate. Spread 1 tablespoon of the yogurt over the surface using the back of a spoon. Layer a heaping spoonful of the fruit mixture on top of the yogurt. Add another phyllo rectangle, layer of yogurt, and layer of fruit. Place a third phyllo rectangle and top with a dollop of yogurt to complete one stack. Repeat this process three more times until you have constructed 4 stacks.
- Sprinkle each stack with pomegranate arils and pistachios, then drizzle each with warm honey. Serve immediately.