I just love surprises! The thrill. The anticipation. The agony of wanting to know. When Alanna of A Veggie Venture announced that the theme for SHF #23 would be "The Surprise Inside", I smiled.

I smiled a secret, Mona Lisa smile. And then I began to plan.

This particular SHF was most challenging for me because I knew I wouldn’t be able to bake. Instead, I hit the books, so to speak, for a surprising sweet that didn’t require the use of an oven. I contemplated many options in my cookbook travels, and yet it seemed like every place I stopped I wasn’t inspired.

Determined, I once again turned to my beloved cookbooks knowing that one of them would surely give me what I was looking for. And as always happens, they came through for me! In this case, it was a former Flavour of the Month that did it. Janie Hibler’s The Berry Bible was a book that I featured in August 2006. While I did share a few recipes with you, I didn’t delve that deeply into the book (it was a busy month) and I certainly didn’t close the loop by sharing my feelings on the book with you.

The Berry Bible is a thorough and accessible tribute to berries of all sorts. In fact, it’s downright amazing in that it proves you can use berries in almost any dish or course. And for those of us that still have some trouble identifying our berries, there is a full colour insert that identifies each berry by name with a helpful photograph. Who knew there were so many types of berries?!

So towards the end of this lovely cookbook, I noticed one lone post-it at the side of the page. I flipped it open and … SURPRISE … I found the surprise inside the cookbook that would inspire me for the surprise inside SHF.

Dscn3177_1So what’s the surprise?

Do you know what it is?

Do you smell it?

Do you taste it?

Do you give up?

Okay. I’ll end your agony. It’s a phyllo pocket stuffed with mascarpone, blackberries and marcona almonds. The pockets are gently sauteed in melted butter until they turn a lovely golden and become gloriously crispy on the outside. Shatter the crust with your fork and you will discover an oozing, melting centre.

What a delicious surprise indeed. And on a Friday no less!


Phyllo Pockets with Mascarpone, Blackberries and Marcona Almonds

Adapted from The Berry Bible by Janie Hibler.

  • 12 sheets phyllo dough, thawed and kept under a moist towel to ensure they don’t dry out
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup marcona almonds, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup mascarpone
  • 1 cup blackberries
  • more butter for sauteing
  1. Dscn3156Combine the almonds and sugar in a small bowl.
  2. Take one sheet of phyllo and lay it out on a work surface. Brush with butter.
  3. Top with two more sheets of phyllo, brushing each one with butter.
  4. Cut the phyllo sheets into three strips, lengthwise.
  5. Starting at the left corner of each strip, place a tablespoon or so of mascarpone on the phyllo.
  6. Top with 3 or 4 blackberries.
  7. Sprinkle some of the almond/sugar mixture over the blackberries.
  8. Take the left edge of the phyllo and fold it over the mascarpone/blackberries and almonds. From that point, fold the phyllo over as you would fold a flag, creating clean corners. Keep folding until you reach the end of the phyllo strip and tuck any excess pastry under the seam.
  9. Put the phyllo pocket seam down on a plate.
  10. Repeat these steps until you have made 12 phyllo pockets.
  11. In a large pan, melt on or two tablespoons of butter. Saute the pockets for two to three minutes on each side, our until they are golden. Saute two or three pockets at a time.
  12. Transfer to a plate while you saute the other pockets.
  13. Dust with icing sugar and serve immediately.
  14. Enjoy!

Note:  If you can’t find marcona almonds (I bought mine at Williams-Sonoma), use regular blanched almonds. Instead of blackberries, you could also use blueberries.

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