Over the last couple of years since we moved here, we’ve hosted a barbecue on Memorial Day with a few friends. It’s always relatively small as we don’t have a huge amount of space and kids are always involved, so any bigger and we’d no longer be having a relaxed fun time but rather containment and breaking issues. Firing up the grill is a must for us on Memorial Day, and I’ve been starting to think what we’ll cook next week. What I often seem to forget to plan, though, is dessert. I don’t know if it’s just we’re not huge dessert people or that the focus is on the grill and sides, but I sometimes have a last minute panic that I’ve not thought about it. These berry phyllo cups with lemon cheesecake cream might just be my new secret dessert weapon, though – they are ridiculously quick and easy to make and really tasty. Plus, they are conveniently in patriotic colors, if that’s something you were looking for, perfect finger food and both small and light since I’m guessing you might be a bit full after all that grilled food. See, like I say, they’re the secret weapon of Memorial Day dessert (or any excuse, really).
I know Memorial Day marks the start of grilling season for many and it does have that sense of being the transition from spring to summer. We have a late-flowering lilac next to the front patio area that we sit out on that’s pretty much always in full bloom on Memorial Day and the fragrance and color are the perfect accompaniment to our meal. This year we’ve managed to use the grill a couple of times in the last week and can’t wait to use it more as the warmer weather hopefully continues. Memorial Day often becomes a bit of an extended feast of lots of great grilled food and sides, for us, so having a light dessert is perfect after that. Though these would also be great other times, too – I’d just probably eat more of them!
How they’re made
These berry phyllo cups make use of ready-made mini phyllo cups that you can buy frozen and that take just a minute to defrost. They are really handy for various things from mini desserts like this to savory appetizers. Here they are filled with what I’ve called a lemon cheesecake cream that’s simply cream cheese, yogurt, lemon and honey – I used it in my more complicated patriotic tricolor dessert and liked it so much it needed to be used again. Slice a couple strawberries and put them and some blueberries on top and there you have it, some pretty and tasty little bites.
These berry phyllo cups are such a super easy dessert but the fact the cheesecake cream is not out of a packet makes them feel like you have put a little effort in to them – you don’t have to tell it’s really quick to make. Plus, there’s only a little bit of honey and all that lovely fruit so they are fairly healthy too. They are great for a party since they are so quick and easy but look fairly impressive as you pass them round. They have a lovely balance of sweet juicy fruit, crisp pastry and slightly tart lemony creaminess. Personally there’s no way I could have just one so you might want to make a big batch of them, but it still won’t take long and I think everyone will thank you for it. Go ahead and give them a try – it will only take you a few minutes – and you’ll see what I mean.
- 1 packet phyllo (fillo) pastry cups - 15 (also called mini phyllo shells)
- 4tbsp/ ¼cup cream cheese
- 4tbsp/ ¼cup Greek yogurt
- zest of ½ lemon
- 1tbsp lemon juice
- 1tbsp honey
- 6 medium strawberries
- 30 blueberries
- Take the frozen phyllo cups out of the packet to defrost a few minutes before you need them (they will probably only take as long as it takes to prepare everything else) - they won't take long but don't leave them in the packaging as you don't want them to potentially soak up any ice that may be in there and go soggy.
- Blend together the cream cheese, yogurt, lemon zest, lemon juice and honey until smooth and well combined. Core and slice the strawberries relatively thinly.
- Fill the phyllo cups about ¾ full with the lemon cheesecake cream - you can spoon it in or I found it easiest to pipe it.
- Stand two slices of strawberry in the middle of each cup - I use two of slightly different sizes to look a little better but it doesn't really matter - and then place a blueberry on each side. Refrigerate until ready to serve, but try not to make them more than 1 - 2hours ahead as the pastry will soften.