The crunchy phyllo pastry with its succulent, creamy filling is equally elegant when passed on a doily-lined tray or presented as a sit-down appetizer. Even though the cèpes are not that easy to find, it’s worth tracking them down in their fresh or frozen state. If you can’t find any, cremini make an economical substitute.
This recipe makes twelve mini phyllo cups. If your mini muffin pan has twenty-four cups, leave the empty cups empty. There’s no need to fill with water. Or if you’d like to make a large amount to freeze, you can easily double or even quadruple the recipe.
Yield: Makes twelve 2-inch pastry cups, serves 6 as an appetizer
12 small (caps about 1 inch across) fresh or frozen cepe mushrooms (see Note)
¼ cup heavy or whipping cream
½ teaspoon dried tarragon, crumbled
Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 sheet phyllo dough, thawed
Grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
1. Thaw the mushrooms in a bowl if frozen, reserving the liquid that collects in the bottom of the bowl. Separate the caps and stems and drain the caps well on paper towels. Squeeze the liquid from the stems into the, bowl. Finely chop the stems and add to the liquid. Place the stems and liquid, cream, and tarragon in a small saucepan. Heat the liquid to a boil over low heat and boil until there is just enough liquid to coat the mushroom stems, about 2 minutes. Season the liquid to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.
2. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Using some of the melted butter, grease a mini muffin tin with cups about 1½ inches across the top by ½ inch deep.
3. Arrange the phyllo sheet with one of the long edges facing you. Brush the right half, of the phyllo with melted butter. Fold the left side over the buttered side to make a double-thickness. Brush and fold again to make a 4-layer pile of phyllo about 4½ inches wide × 14 inches long. Cut the rectangle crosswise into 3 equal pieces (each piece will be about a 4½-inch square). Cut each square into 4 even squares. You should have 12 squares altogether. Line the cups of the muffin tins with the phyllo squares. There should be enough dough to completely line the cups, with the points extending over the rim of the cups.
4. Place a mushroom cap, gill side up, in each of the phyllo-lined cups. Spoon the cream mixture over each cap, coating the cap completely. Sprinkle the grated cheese, if using, over the cream mixture.
5. Bake until the phyllo is deep golden brown and crisp and the filling is bubbling and lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Remove and cool for 2 minutes before removing the cups from the muffin tins to serve.
The tiny frozen cèpes I have found are called bouchon, literally corks. Some brands label this size “cocktail” or “baby.” This category indicates whole mushrooms which measure no more than 2 inches from cap to stem. They are almost always frozen, although in peak season they occasionally appear fresh. This size is a little more costly than the other sizes, but it makes up for price with its juicy goodness.
To Freeze Phyllo Cups: To freeze unfilled phyllo cups, cool them completely to room temperature. Put them on a baking sheet and place them in the freeze until solid. Stack carefully in a plastic container and keep frozen until ready to use, up to 2 months. Reheat the frozen phyllo cups on a baking sheet in a 350°F oven until crisp and heated through, about 12 minutes.