Bougatsa is a thin layer of custard sandwiched in sheets of buttered phyllo pastry. It can be made in a tray, or as in this recipe, as individual servings. These bites are perfect for a social gathering as they are easy to serve. The filling can be made up to one day ahead.
1 egg, room temperature
1 egg yolk, room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup 2% milk
1/2 cup 35% cream
1/4 cup semolina
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup butter, cubed
Zest of 1 lemon
24 sheets phyllo pastry
3/4 cup butter, melted (for phyllo and pan)
Confectioners sugar (for top)
Cinnamon (for top)
Make the custard first as it needs to completely cool before use. Lightly beat the eggs, vanilla and salt together. Add the sugar and beat until frothy and light. Heat the milk (do not boil) and slowly pour the heated milk into the eggs while beating. Once the milk has been incorporated, add the custard to a pot and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring constantly. The mixture should be slightly thickened. Slowly pour in the semolina, stirring to incorporate it fully into the custard. Remove the mixture from the heat and add the butter one cube at a time, whisking it in until the custard is thick and smooth. Add in the lemon zest. Transfer the custard to a measuring cup (it has less surface) and cover with plastic wrap that rests right on the custard. Refrigerate until completely cooled (at least 1 hour).
Make sure you have a large surface to work on when preparing the phyllo. Wet a thin dish towel and squeeze out the liquid so it is just damp. Remove the phyllo pastry from the packaging and cover with the damp towel to keep it from drying out. Take one sheet of phyllo pastry and brush with the melted butter. Take a second sheet of phyllo pastry and, as closely as possible, place on top of the first sheet. Brush this layer with butter again. Using a very sharp knife, cut the phyllo pastry into 3 equal pieces.
Fold the long edges from the cut pieces in about 1/2” on each side. Place two heaping tablespoons of the custard at one end of the piece and fold over to create a 2” size. Continue to fold over until you reach close to the end. At the other end, fold over the end so that it is a clean edge. Place the bougatsa bite into buttered square tart pans with the last folded edge facing down (or use a baking sheet lined with a silicone mat and place the bites 1” apart). Brush the tops with butter.
Preheat your oven to 350°F. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the pan and lightly dust with confectioners sugar and cinnamon. Makes 40 to 48 bites.