I remember my high school Greek teacher brought baklava to class one day and told us about her secret ingredient: rosewater. That small fact stuck with me longer than all the ancient Greek grammar I studied for three years. In ode to my old teacher, I’ve added a dash of rosewater to this Greek-inspired summer phyllo tart made with stone fruit. If you like, you can use plums instead of peaches, but I’d stick with chopped lush cherries, for their sweet taste and gorgeous color.
While phyllo dough can seem scary to use it’s not that difficult to work with once you get the hang of it. Phyllo dough is one of my “wanderlust” ingredients that I keep in the freezer for impromptu cooking and I like the phyllo dough sheets from Athens Foods. The most important part of using phyllo dough is the temperature. Make sure it’s cool but definitely not frozen. And while you’re working with each sheet, cover the others with a cold dishtowel so the sheets don’t crumble. That being said, you don’t have to worry about the dough too much, because this flaky free form phyllo tart is very forgiving; the layers don’t have to be perfect at all because you’re going to cover them with creamy ricotta and slices of fruit. For a crunchy texture, add crushed, spiced pecans or perhaps some toasted pine nuts.
3/4 stick of butter
3 tablespoons of honey, separated
8-10 sheets of phyllo dough; I use Athens Foods Phyllo Dough*
3/4 cup of ricotta cheese
1/4 cup of milk
1/4 teaspoon of rosewater
1/4 teaspoon of vanilla
2 peaches, sliced thinly
1/4 cup of cherries, chopped
1 tablespoon of fresh mint, chopped (optional)
Optional: candied pecans, crushed
1 tablespoon of butter
3/4 cup of pecans
2 teaspoons of sugar
1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon of allspice
1/4 teaspoon of ginger
Tip: You’ll need a cookie sheet and you may want to have a pastry brush and parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
*Phyllo dough is best kept frozen. When you’re going to use it, defrost in the refrigerator overnight. Remove from the refrigerator when just ready to use it.
Make the Tart
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place parchment paper or silicone baking mat on a cookie sheet. Melt butter then swirl in 1 tablespoon of honey. Remove the phyllo sheets from the refrigerator. Carefully take one sheet and place it onto the cookie sheet. Brush with the butter-honey mixture. Add another sheet and brush that with the butter-honey mixture. Continue until you’ve used all the sheets. Mix together ricotta cheese, milk, rosewater, vanilla and 2 tablespoons of honey until smooth. Spread onto the phyllo sheets. Slice peaches thinly and place onto the cheese. Top with chopped cherries. Bake in oven for 15-20 minutes, until edges are crisp. Remove from heat and topped with crushed candied pecans and chopped fresh mint, if desired.
For the Pecans
First, stir sugar and spices together. Then melt butter over low heat in a small pan. Add pecans and stir until coated with butter. Add spice mixture and continue to stir for about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat. When cool, crush with a mortar and pestle. Or, place on a cutting board and chop.
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