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Phyllo dough is a great invention. It has been claimed by many ethnic groups, so the origin is somewhat of a mystery - most likely goes back to the Ottomans. In Lebanon, a lot of desserts revolve around the use of Phyllo. Some are stuffed with ashta, some with sweet cheese, and a lot of it with nuts like all the varieties of baklawas. If you've been here before, you'd know that I'm about to choose nuts as the filling.
These turnovers are a favorite in our home. We have been enjoying all the local varieties of apples this season and I usually like to use different types of apples when baking with them. I feel that it gives it texture and more flavor than sticking with one kind. I can't even tell you which types I used for these turnovers, since I bought several varieties the other day and have them all mixed up now.
Served warm, these turnovers are perfect with a morning coffee and you don't need the syrup. In fact, I would leave the use of simple syrup optional. Perfectly sweetened if you prefer the lighter side.
Lebanese-Style Apple Turnovers
makes 16 turnovers
4 apples, peeled, cored and julienned
1 cup walnuts, raw and crushed
1/2 cup pistachios, raw and crushed
3 tbsp sugar + 2 tbsp
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp cornstarch
1 tbsp orange blossom water
1 tbsp rose water
1 packet store-bought Phyllo dough, defrosted overnight in the fridge
6 tbsp butter, unsalted and melted for brushing
Spiced Sugar for dusting
Peel apples, then slice around core into four pieces. Cut those pieces into slices about 1/8 inch thick, then julienne like match sticks. Place all apples in a bowl, add 3 tbsp sugar and lemon juice and mix until incorporated. Let macerate for a couple of hours to remove some of the juice. Place on medium to high heat to evaporate the juice. We don't want the apples to cook and get mushy. Remove from heat and let cool. Meanwhile, place the nuts in a plastic bag and seal, then pound them into pieces, coarse grind. Add them to the apples, plus the rose water, orange blossom water, cornstarch and the 2 other tbsp of sugar. Mix well.
Remove one Phyllo layer, brush with butter, top with another layer, brush with butter, and repeat one more time. Cut Phyllo sheet into four strips width-wise. Place a generous tablespoon of apple nut mixture and fold into triangles. Place on baking sheet, brush top with butter and sprinkle with spiced sugar. Bake at 375˚F for about 8-10 minutes, just until golden.
Chai Simple Syrup
1 1/2 cup water
2 sticks cinnamon
6 cardamom pods
1 nutmeg, broken in two
1 inch ginger, fresh and sliced
1 inch galangal, dried (found at spice shops or Asian markets)
1 tsp anise seeds
3/4 cup sugar
Place all ingredients in water, bring to a boil and let simmer for 10 minutes until water turns honey colored. Strain and place back in pot. Discard spices.
Add sugar to spice water and bring to a gentle boil. Stir gently to melt all sugar and let simmer for 10-15 minutes until slightly thickened (it thickens more after cooling down). When cooled, it should be the consistency of maple syrup. Drizzle over warm apple turnovers and serve.