Thursday, September 23, 2010

Asabia el Aroos (Bride’s Fingers)

In keeping with the current theme of sweet and delicious (and because I was having mad sugar cravings), I decided it was my turn to make a dessert. At first, I had no idea what to do. I wanted something nice and simple, not quite as complex as a homemade pie but slightly more intricate than pudding. I wanted to create a dish that was a little foreign to me but not so far out that no one would want to taste it. After scouring cookbooks and websites, I found a Middle Eastern sweet treat I thought fit the bill nicely. I then enlisted the help of Culinary Guerrilla contributor Jennifer and set to work.
Brides Fingers are little rolls of filo stuffed with something yummy and when finished, look very similar to eggrolls. It’s mandatory for all of our recipes to be low budget and thankfully, this was no exception. We had almost everything on hand and only had to buy a few items. I doubt many people usually keep a stockpile of filo dough and neither do I. We didn’t have any unsalted butter either but luckily it was only a couple dollars at the grocery store. The one ingredient with the highest cost is going to be the can or bag of nuts – Almonds or Pistachios. Although we had a can of almonds, I checked prices for everything and would’ve been able to buy every ingredient for less than fifteen dollars. That’s almost out of the price range but pretty good considering the number of servings this recipe creates.
Okay, it’s time to open our cupboards and see if we can find any of this stuff:
1-16oz box Filo dough
1 Egg
3 1/3 cups Sugar (plus an extra ¼ cup or less for glaze)
1 1/2 cups Water
1/4 cup Unsalted Butter (melted)
1 Lemon (optional)
1 Cup Almonds or
1/4 cup Cinnamon (optional)
2 Greased Pans

That’s it! Not too bad yet, right? The first thing we want to do is make a sweet syrup that we’ll pour over the finished rolls. This is where the lemon comes in. We added lemon to our syrup (some people also add rosewater or orange blossom water)to give it a bit of a citrusy kick but it’s not really necessary. To make the syrup, put 1-1/2 cups water in a pot and turn on the heat. Pour in 3 cups of sugar (yes, that’s a lot of sugar) and boil. Boil this, stirring occasionally, until it is thick and sticky. It should end up being like clear karo syrup. The way we used the lemon was to cut it into eight pieces and stir it in the mix. After you stir it in for a few seconds, remove the pot from the heat and stick it in the fridge.
Next comes the filling and glaze
The goody of our Bride’s Fingers was mostly almonds. We put 1 cup of almonds in a blender (along with 1/4 cup cinnamon and 1/3 cup of sugar) and pulverized them. This should take less than 20 seconds on a high setting. Put your new powder in a bowl and set it aside. The glaze is very simple and consists of nothing more than an egg and some sugar. Beat the egg and set it (and the small, extra quantity of sugar) out of the way till later. It’s a good idea to go ahead and melt some butter in a little bowl and preheat the oven to 375F at this time as well.
Now for the fun part
If you’ve never worked with filo dough before, don’t get discouraged if your first couple of attempts at creating rolls turns into a disaster. Until you get the hang of it, trying to fold and roll dough that is easily as thin as 1 ply tissue paper, is hard. If you don’t work with it quickly or find some way to keep it from drying out (damp towel on top works well) it will be near impossible to use. After my first attempted roll, I honestly began having second thoughts and wondered if we had gotten in over our heads. It is very nice to have help during this part of the process so one doesn’t get too dispirited and give up.
Take the rolls of filo and cut them in half and then cut those halves in half again. You should end up with a total of 8 separate rolls. Now, unroll these and stack them somewhere over to the side. You can put your damp cloth on them now if you’d like. We experimented a little with how many sheets of dough to use and settled on 3. Less was too thin and likely to bust open when rolling and four, though acceptable, was getting on the thick side. Lay your first 3 ply, (roughly) 4.5” x 12” stack of dough with the short side facing you. Rub some of the melted butter on the top layer – not too much though as this could cause your bread to become excessively soggy and fall apart.

Fill ‘em up!
Now, take a tablespoon and get a heaping scoop of the filling you made earlier and place it on the dough on the end closest to you. Now for the tricky part – fold the long sides of the filo toward the center for the entire length of the dough. Next, take the folded end closest to you and start rolling it up. Try and make it look like a little fat eggroll. Some people compare this step to rolling a cigar. Either way, you should have a nicely rolled little ‘finger’ that is ready to be glazed and put in the oven.

Time to glaze and bake
Repeat the above step until all the dough is used up. After the rolls are prepared, put them into your greased pans and get your egg and sugar ready to glaze. Brush the egg over the tops of the rolls and sprinkle on some sugar with your fingers. Place the pans in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes or so. The rolls should be golden brown when they are done.
Serve and enjoy!
While the rolls are still hot, take out your chilled syrup and either pour it over the fingers or set it to the side to use as a dip.

Turns out, filo dough isn’t so tough to work with after you get a few Bride’s Fingers under your belt. Our attempt was deemed a success as we turned out a rather pretty and tasty final product. Although this
dessert is a bit sweet for some people’s tastes, others love it and it makes a great addition to any party’s spread.

1 comment:

  1. This was an excellent and fun dish to make just because it was so different working with the filo. The brides fingers were yummy, just not too many of them at one time. I think they Are a great finger dessert for a party or event. Over all they had a great texture and crunch to them I enjoyed.