Opening a package of phyllo dough for one project often means another one is following soon (you do have to utilize the leftover before it dries, gets brittle and unusable). In this case, I put to use not just the remaining phyllo, but also the vanilla cheesecake trimmings (it took all my willpower not to it eat them right away).
A perfectly baked cheesecake is soft and creamy at room temperature. It can be whipped and differently flavored. I added lemon zest to the cheesecake scraps, beat them until creamy, then folded some whipped cream which turned the mixture into an airy mousse. I piped the mousse over lemon curd and wild blackberry jam-filled tiny phyllo tartlets, and topped it with the fresh berries and pistachios.
The cheesecake is a quite rich dessert where a little goes a long way. Unless it’s been served to a huge crowd, there’s always something left over, no matter how fabulous your cheesecake is (it seems everyone counts calories and worries about cholesterol content these days). So, this might be a way to turn the leftovers into a new dessert, without basically any effort at all. If you don’t have any cheesecake sitting in your fridge, but want to give these tartlets a try, you can follow this Milk Chocolate and Salted Caramel Tart recipe for making a filling (no need to bake a cheesecake especially for this), just double the amount to fill all 24 shells. And, if you use different jams and curds under the mousse, it makes sense to mark the tartlets by arranging the berries differently. Otherwise, you may end up like me – poking the tartlets with a skewer in a search for the lemon curd-filled one after eating three in a row filled with the jam.
For the shells:
- ¼ cup pistachio nuts
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 6 phyllo sheets
- 4 tbsp (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
For the filling:
- ¼ cup lemon curd
- ¼ cup wild blackberry jam (or use your favorite jam)
- ½ cup cold whipping cream
- 8 oz vanilla cheesecake leftovers, at room temperature
- Zest of 1 small lemon
- Fresh raspberries and blackberries (about half pint each)
- Finely chopped pistachios for sprinkling
- Mint leaves for garnish
Make the tartlet shells:
Center an oven rack and preheat the oven to 350F. Lightly spray 24 mini-muffin molds with oil spray. Set aside.
In a bowl of the food processor, combine the pistachios and sugar. Process until finely ground.
Cover a working surface with a large sheet of parchment paper. Place 1 sheet of phyllo on the parchment paper, with one long side parallel to the edge of the work surface. Brush the phyllo sheet with the melted butter, and sprinkle with about 2 tablespoons of nut-sugar mixture. Cover the rest of the phyllo with plastic wrap first and then with a damp dish towel (avoid direct contact of the phyllo with the wet towel to prevent the phyllo from getting soggy). Repeat with one more phyllo sheet. Do not brush the top of the last (3rd) sheet with the butter and don’t sprinkle it with nut mixture. Using a large cookie or biscuit cutter cut out 3-inch circles (you should be able to get 12 of them). Alternatively, you can cut the phyllo stack into 3-inch squares instead. Carefully, fit the circles (or squares) into the prepared muffin molds. Slide into the oven and bake for about 12 minutes until the phyllo shells are crisp and golden brown. Cool completely on a cooling rack before unmolding.
Repeat with the remaining 3 phyllo sheets.
The baked phyllo shells can be baked several days in advance and kept, unfilled, in an air-tight container at room temperature. Fill the shells close to the serving time.
Make the filling, fill the tartlets:
Spoon about 1 tsp of lemon curd into 12 baked phyllo shells. Spoon about 1 tsp of jam into another 12 shells. Set aside.
In a small bowl, using a hand-held electric mixer, whip the cream until it holds medium peaks. Set aside for a moment.
In another small bowl, using the same hand-held electric mixer with the same attachment (to minimize a cleanup), whip the cheesecake with the lemon zest until smooth and light. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the whipped cream into the cheesecake mixture in two additions until incorporated. Transfer to a pastry bag fitted with a large tip. Pipe the mousse over the curd/jam. Arrange the berries over the top, sprinkle some pistachios, garnish with the mint leaves and serve. The tartlets will remain perfectly crispy for a couple of hours, then they will soften slightly.