Chocolate. Crispy. Easy. Oh yes.

Crispy Chocolate Pastries

Crispy Chocolate Pastries

Really. I never used to like sweets. I could down a whole loaf of bread before even looking at a Danish.

But all that has changed. Somewhere over the last few years sweets have lured me in. It probably has something to do with the cooking classes I teach. I like to include a dessert in each menu if possible. So I began experimenting with cakes, pastries, tarts, pies. Free form, in French pans, mini-treats in cupcake tins. I’ve discovered that the possibilities for baked sweets are endless. A frontier strewn with history and constant invention. I’m now on the trail and inexhaustibly interested!

Of course, easy is always a goal. I love easy with spectacular results. That’s what you’ve got here with those unassuming mini-pastries in the picture above. Here’s how it goes (Filo dough. Filo dough makes these crispy):

12 sheets filo dough

1 stick butter, melted

2 cups bittersweet chocolate chips

1/4 cup powdered sugar

Lay the filo sheets flat on a clean work surface. Cut them lengthwise into 3 columns. Lay out one strip of dough and brush with butter.  Lay another strip on top and brush with butter. Lay a third on top and brush with butter. Place about a tablespoon of chocolate chips at the lower end of the 3-layer strip. Fold over one corner over the chips to cover them, then continue folding like a flag until you have a completed triangle. Fold over the dough edge at the top and brush with butter to seal.

Place on a parchment-lined sheet pan and brush top with butter. Repeat with the rest of the dough and chocolate. Makes a dozen.

Bake for 20-25 minutes in a 400 degree oven until golden. Serve warm or at room temp. Dust with powdered sugar.

Yes, the chocolate melts. Yes, you bite into light, flaky, crispiness. And then get the prize melted chocolate. Invite people to share these with you or you will eat them all. Addictive.


Ewww! You’re gonna eat that?


French rolling pin, my favorite

When I was a little kid my mom steered me away from sweets. If I picked up a tootsie roll she’d scrunge her face into a frown and say: Eww. You’re gonna eat that? 

That’s the story I’m told. She’s a sweets lover (whipped cream being especially alluring). My sister, too, can happily munch cookies and candy every day. Me? Bakery displays used to appeal to me as much as the nuts & bolts bins at the hardware store. Eyes glaze over, not even seeing anything.

But that has, unfortunately, changed. I think it started in culinary school. I went to culinary school while I was still living in NYC. I was on the culinary, not pastry, track. But they interrupted our frying, braising, roasting and fabricating meat, for a quick 6-week pastry module. We whipped through puff pastry, cakes, caramel, and candies–each day bringing on a new technique.

It felt like a mini-vacation. No grease, no slimy hands, no potential salmonella, no leg joints, silverskin, or fish scales. Just butter and flour. Eggs. Everything felt lighter and happier. I feel in love with our puff pastry croissants, pain au chocolate and raisin rolls. I suddenly wanted to trail at my favorite NY cafes to learn how they made those pastries that would now pop into my eyes (and mouth) when I came in for a cappuccino or cafe au lait.

Since then I like to bake. It first felt a little foreign in my hands, but I’ve warmed up quickly. These little baked mini-pies have been haunting me since I first made them. In this recipe the filling is blueberries, strawberries, aleppo pepper & cinnamon. But I’m now dreaming of adding mascarpone. I’ll let you know how that comes out!

Mini-Pies w Fruit Filling

To make the crust, pulse in a food processor: 1 1/2 cups flour, 1 teaspoon sugar, pinch salt. Add 1 stick cold unsalted butter (that has been cut into cubes). Pulse until broken into small pieces. Add 1/4 cup of very cold white wine. Pulse until dough comes together in a ball. Remove and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for 1 hour.


unsalted butter, the baker’s friend


like magic, food processor makes your pastry dough

Meanwhile make the filling. Combine 1 cup blueberries, 1 cup strawberries (cut into small pieces the size of blueberries), 1/4 cup of sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon aleppo pepper.


isn’t it great when food is as pretty as it tastes good?

Roll dough out and cut into 3-inch squares (or choose your shape & size). Place about a teaspoon of the mixture in the middle. Fold into a triangle and press sides together with fork tines to seal. Place on a parchment-lined sheet pan. Repeat with the rest. (You can knead lightly and roll out the scraps to make a few more.)


your own personal assembly line!

Makes about a dozen. Lightly beat an egg with a little water. Brush egg on top. Make a small slit in each and sprinkle a little sugar on top.


dough, pin, cutter, little pie

Bake at 400 degrees F. for about 20 minutes until golden. YUM.


I can eat at least five of them