These stunning filo pastry shells make an elegant Christmas party buffet treat or dinner party starter
- 12 x 11cm square and 8 x 5cm discs of filo pastry (see this recipe, or use ready-made)
- 80g caster sugar
- 24 hazelnuts, lightly toasted, skinned and roughly chopped
- 80g butter, melted and cooled
- 1 egg, beaten with a pinch of salt
- 8 tbsp fromage frais
- 4 perfectly ripe figs
- 12 almonds (preferably fresh), skinned and halved lengthways
Put the sugar in a deep heavy-based frying pan and heat slowly until dissolved. As soon as it turns to a pale caramel, add the hazelnuts, roll them in the caramel, then tip the mixture onto a marble slab or lightly oiled baking tray. Use a knife tip to separate the hazelnuts, then set aside to cool.
To shape each pastry, very lightly brush 3 filo squares with butter on both sides, then cut each of the squares into 4 triangles. Brush a filo disc with melted butter on one side only and place it, buttered side down, in an individual tart tin, 10cm in diameter and 1.5cm deep. Brush the top of the filo disc with beaten egg. Arrange the filo triangles evenly on the disc, each with a point facing upwards around the edge. Repeat with the other 11 triangles, bending them forwards slightly to resemble 12 ‘petals’. Finally, brush a filo brush with egg and place it, glazed side-down, on the base of triangles. Brush the top with butter. Make another 3 pastries in the same way.
Preheat the over to 160ºC/Gas Mark 2½. Bake the pastries for 5-7 minutes until they become dry and turn pale nut brown. Carefully unmould them onto a wire rack and leave to cool. (You can prepare these in advance, ready to assemble and serve.)
Place a pastry on each serving plate and divide the fromage frais between them. Cut each fig vertically into 8 ‘petals’, keeping them attached at the base, and open them out like a flower. Put one in each pastry and fill the centres with almonds. Scatter the chopped hazelnuts over the exposed fromage frais and serve at once.
Ripe white peach halves are an exquisite alternative to the figs.