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
Uh, “bride’s fingers”?! While some of us find the nickname for these pastries quite endearing, others find it to be somewhat disconcerting and a few of us are confused. But none of us are conflicted as to how we feel about the pastries themselves. Crisp phyllo, crunchy nuts, aromatic orange water, and sweet, sweet honey. Swoon.
Phyllo Pastry with Nuts and Honey Syrup Recipe
- Quick Glance
- 35 M
- 1 H
- Makes about 14 pastries
- 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
- 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.
Hungry for more? Chow down on these:
Phyllo Pastry with Nuts and Honey Syrup Recipe © 2006 Claudia Roden. Photo © 2006 Jason Lowe. All rights reserved.