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As all-American desserts go, it's hard to beat apple pie, especially for the Fourth of July.
But celebrating a big holiday shouldn't involve making a big healthy-eating sacrifice. So in honor of our nation's independence, we created an apple dessert that lets us have our pie and our healthy habits, too.
With pie, the real dietary downfall is the crust, which typically is laden with butter or shortening. So we decided to remake the classic using phyllo dough, the papery thin sheets of dough used to make baklava. Usually, it is brushed with melted butter to help it bake into thin layers. For ease and less fat, we went with a few quick mists of cooking spray instead.
We filled the phyllo sheets with sautéed apples and then rolled them into little cigars. You could just as easily fold them into triangles. To do this, just place the filling at one end, then fold like a flag.
One thing about working with phyllo dough: If you let it dry out, it tears easily. So be sure to take out just the amount you need to work with at any given moment. To keep the rest moist, cover with plastic wrap, then a damp, but not wet, kitchen towel. Any phyllo you don't need should be tightly wrapped in plastic wrap, then placed in a zip-close bag and refrigerated.
Apple phyllo cigars
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 Gala or Fuji apples, peeled, cored and diced
Small pinch salt
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon water
1 teaspoon cornstarch
4 sheets phyllo dough*
Butter-flavored or plain cooking spray
In a small bowl, stir together sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg.
In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, toss apples with 1 tablespoon sugar mixture and salt. Sauté until just tender, about 3 to 4 minutes.
In a small cup, mix together lemon juice, water and cornstarch. Stir into the apples and cook for another 30 seconds, or until thickened. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
When ready to assemble the cigars, heat the oven to 400 degrees. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.
Evenly stack the 4 sheets of phyllo dough. With a paring knife, slice the stack in half lengthwise. Remove one half sheet from the stack and cover the rest with plastic wrap, then a damp (but not wet) kitchen towel.
Place piece of phyllo dough in front of you and spoon 1 tablespoon apple filling across one of the short ends. Spritz the dough lightly with cooking spray and sprinkle lightly with about 1/2 teaspoon of the reserved spiced sugar.
Starting with the apple end, roll up the pastry sheet to create a log with the apples in the middle. Place the cigar on the prepared baking sheet, with the loose end down. Repeat with remaining apple filling, sugar mixture and pastry sheets.
Spray the tops of the cigars lightly with cooking spray and sprinkle with a bit more of the sugar. Bake 15 minutes, or until golden and crisp. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Tip: Phyllo dough tears easily. So while this recipe needs only 4 sheets, it's a good idea to have 6 or 8 thawed and ready to use. Most packages contain about 40 sheets.
Servings • 8
Source: The Associated Press