Phyllo Pastries with Nuts and Honey

These exquisite pastries, called “bride’s fingers,” are featured in medieval Arab manuscripts found in Baghdad. In Morocco, they’re made with the thin pastry called warka or brick and deep-fried. I prefer to make them with phyllo and to bake them. (I use a supermarket brand of phyllo with sheets about 12 inches by 7 inches.)

I especially recommend the dainty bride’s fingers variation that follows this recipe. I make them for parties and I keep some in a cookie tin to serve with coffee. They are great favorites in our family. My mother always made them and now my children make them, too.–Claudia Roden

LC Bride's Fingers?! Note

Bride’s Fingers?! Some of us LCers find the nickname for these pastries quite endearing. Others find it to be somewhat disconcerting. And a few of us are conflicted. But none of us are confused as to how we feel about the pastries themselves.

Phyllo Pastry with Nuts and Honey Syrup Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 35 M
  • 1 H
  • Makes about 14 pastries

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound (2/3 cup) honey
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 2 cups ground almonds, pistachios, or walnuts, plus more for sprinkling, if desired
  • 1/2 to 2/3 cup superfine sugar (or granulated sugar blitzed in a blender until finely ground but not powdery)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons orange blossom water
  • 14 sheets phyllo dough, thawed if frozen
  • 5 tablespoons (2 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter, melted

Directions

  • 1. Bring the honey and water to a boil in a small saucepan and simmer for just half a minute. Remove from the heat and let the syrup cool. Pour the syrup into a shallow dish.
  • 2. Meanwhile, in a bowl, mix the 2 cups ground almonds, pistachios, or walnuts with the sugar (you can start with 1/2 cup and add more to taste if desired), cinnamon (if using), and orange blossom water.
  • 3. Preheat the oven to 300°F (150°C).
  • 4. Wait to open the package of phyllo dough until you’re ready to assemble the pastries. Place 1 sheet phyllo dough on the work surface and keep the remaining phyllo dough covered with a damp towel to prevent it from drying out. Place 2 to 2 1/2 tablespoons nut filling in a line 3/4 inch from one of the short ends of the phyllo dough rectangle. Extend the filling to within 3/4 inch of both of the long sides. Roll the sheet up loosely into a fat cigar shape by first turning the ends in about 1/3 of the way along to trap the filling for a turn or two, then continue to roll with the ends opened out. Repeat with the remaining phyllo sheets and filling. Keep the rolled pastries in a pile and, as you stack them, lightly brush the top pastries with melted butter so they do not dry out.
  • 5. Place the phyllo dough pastries on a baking sheet, lightly brush the top of each with melted butter, and bake for 30 minutes, or until lightly golden and crisp. While the pastries are still warm, very quickly place each pastry in the syrup and turn it to coat. Arrange the pastries in a single layer on a serving plate. Let cool.
  • 6. Serve the pastries with the remaining syrup poured over them and, if desired, sprinkled with additional ground almonds or pistachios.

Other Authentic Renditions

  • Sugar Syrup
  • Instead of the honey syrup, make a sugar syrup by simmering 1 cup water with 2 cups granulated sugar and 1 tablespoon lemon juice until it’s thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 5 to 8 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon orange blossom water toward the end of the simmering.
  • Make-Ahead Dessert
  • Instead of rolling the pastries in the syrup, sprinkle them with confectioners’ sugar. These keep very well for several days in an airtight cookie tin.
  • Dainty Bride’s Fingers
  • Cut the phyllo dough into narrower strips, measuring 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 inches wide and about 12 inches long. Use 1 heaping tablespoon filling for each roll. This makes about 28 pastries.
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Comments
Comments
  1. Testers Choice Testers Choice says:

    [Linda Pacchiano] This recipe is definitely a TC! The pastries are so easy to make and the results are as professional as you’d find in an upscale bakery. I made the smaller variation by cutting my supermarket brand of phyllo into 3 long strips and on each I placed a tablespoon of filling. This resulted in nice two-bite pastries that could be eaten as finger food. Great for any occasion—but it’ll be hard to eat just one! Of course, the smaller variation took less time in the oven—15 to 20 minutes rather than the 30 minutes for the larger version. I tried freezing some of them before baking and then baked them right from the freezer. These turned out just as delicious as those that were baked immediately.

  2. Testers Choice Testers Choice says:

    [Adrienne Lee] This is a delicious recipe—both the almond filling and the honey soaking sauce. It isn’t an easy recipe, though. A note: Phyllo sheets come in many different sizes now. I’d look for the smaller sizes, because otherwise you’ll have to cut and fill at the same time. It’d be easier to find sheets that are closest to the size specified in the headnote. I think that 7-inch pastries might be too large for most people, so I opted for the smaller brides’ fingers. If you’re a beginner or just find phyllo difficult to work with, you can double the layers to make the pastry more sturdy before rolling. Brush butter between the layers and they’ll stick together. Then roll as described in the instructions. (I actually found it easier to turn the edges in earlier—I tried it both ways—and brushed butter along the seams. This is similar to making triangles and sealing in the filling right in the beginning.) I think that the pieces could take more filling than the 1 tablespoon, or thin line, specified in the recipe. Freezing these works well. I formed the rolls, wrapped each one individually in plastic wrap, and threw them into a freezer bag. To bake, just preheat the oven, unwrap and place the rolls directly from the freezer onto a baking sheet, and bake for 30 minutes or until golden.

  3. donna says:

    Can I roll these and freeze them to bake later?

    • Beth Price, LC Director of Recipe Testing says:

      Hi Donna, I spoke with several of our testers and you should be fine to make these ahead and freeze them. Just be sure to cook them from a frozen state and add a few more minutes bake time. Hope this helps!

  4. nyfoodhistorian says:

    I don’t know where to find orange blossom water- can I use orange or lemon zest instead?

  5. Betsy says:

    How far in do you fold the edges of the long sides?

    • Beth Price says:

      Hi Betsy, I asked Linda, one of our professional bakers if she could clarify this a bit. This is what she said “She should roll the 3/4″ of phyllo that’s on either side of the filling up and around the filling that she’s placed on the strip. She’s rolling this into a “cigar” shape with the 3/4″ sides folded into to enclose the filling until she’s about 1/3 of the way up and then she can just roll without tucking in the sides.” Hope this helps.

      • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

        Sorta like rolling up a burrito, in a sense…a very small, very sweet, very delicate burrito!

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