These Mini Galaktoboureko Bites enclose all the flavour and texture of the original galaktoboureko, yet they are bite-sized and perfect for you next gathering.
Galaktoboureko is a traditional Greek dessert made with buttered layers of fyllo pastry and a filling of milk custard thickened with semolina. It is baked in the oven, then syruped and finally dusted with cinnamon. It is one of the most beloved Greek desserts. The buttered fyllo becomes crispy in the oven, the custard stays soft and when the whole thing is syruped, it comes together in an incredibly mellow and aromatic flavour.
These Mini Galaktoboureko Bites have all the charm and flavour of the original galaktoboureko, with the extra advantage of their size: you just grab them with your fingers and pop them in your mouth. That’s right, no need for a fork and a knife; and no drips of syrup either.
Mini Galaktoboureko Bites
Semolina is a type of flour made of durum wheat.
It is traditionally used as a thickener for the galaktoboureko filling, as it gives it its charasteristic texture and taste.
If possible, choose fine vs coarse semolina.
There is a variety of fyllo sheets out there and they mostly vary in thickness. If possible, use the ones labelled “for pastries” or “for baklava”.
If you live in Greece, choose the “Φύλλο Κρούστας” (fyllo kroustas), which are thinner and more delicate than the other types.
Do not put too much effort on finding the right phyllo sheets, though. In the recipe, I also include instructions on how to adapt the layering, depending on the thickness of your fyllo sheets.
You can use regular white sugar. A good quality raw cane sugar, such as Demerara, would be great, too, as it adds depth of flavour, both in the semolina custard, as well as the syrup.
DO NOT use sugar substitutes, such as artificial sweeteners or stevia.
Begin by preheating the oven to 180ºC (360ºF). You need the oven to be really hot by the time you have finished making the galaktoboureko bites (step 4).
Put the water, sugar, lemon strip and cinnamon stick in a small saucepan and warm over medium heat, stirring until the sugar melts.
Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Let it boil for one minute.
Remove from the heat and set aside to cool. When cooled, remove the lemon strip and the cinnamon stick.
Put a towel or dishcloth under the bowl with the semolina-egg mixture, to help it stay in place while whisking.
Also note that it is useful to use a long-handle saucepan, so that you can use one hand to whisk the semolina-egg mixture and the other to hold the saucepan as you pour.
Lastly, when making a custard, always use a flat-edged utensil, such as a silicone spatula or a flat-edged wooden spoon. The reason is that you have to scrape the bottom of the saucepan as you go, to avoid burning the custard which sits there, something which is not possible to do with a spoon.
Put the egg in a large, heatproof bowl. Add the semolina and whisk to combine. Leave the whisk in the bowl.
Put the milk, along with the lemon strip and the sugar in a medium saucepan and warm, stirring often over medium heat, until the sugar melts.
Remove the lemon peel and discard.
Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil.
When it starts boiling, pour it in a steady, slow stream over the semolina-egg mixture, while whisking the egg continuously with one hand.
Return everything back into the saucepan and warm over medium heat, stirring continuously and scraping the bottom of the pan, until the custard starts to slightly thicken.
Remove from the heat and pour everything back into the bowl.
Set aside to cool, stirring from time to time to avoid a crust forming on the surface.
Take 3 fyllo sheets and fold them in half to create 6 layers. This is the first folded fyllo package. Repeat with the remaining sheets, to form a second package.
Place it next to you on the counter, with the wide, open side facing towards you.
Firstly, brush the counter with butter and place the folded fyllo package on it. This way the bottom layer gets buttered by the counter and sticks to it.
Open up the fyllo package, leaving the lowest fyllo attached to the counter and the remaining sheets above it.
Then, brush the top side of the fyllo sheet which is attached to the counter.
Bring another, unbuttered, fylllo layer over, smoothen it with your hands and generously brush its top side with butter.
Continue, brushing the top side of each fyllo layer, including the last one.
Using the cookie cutter as a guide, cut a “test” layered disk with the sharp knife, following the cookie cutter’s circumference. Placing the buttered fyllo sheets on a soft surface, like a wooden board, makes cutting easier.
Take the “test” layered disk and place it in a cavity of the mini muffin pan; then press its centre to attach to the cavity.’s bottom.
It should effortlessly adjust to the cavity when pressing it inside.
There will be folds created on the sides, but the bottom should attach smoothly.
If it doesn’t, see the troubleshooting guide below.
Next, cut the rest of the disks and attach them to the muffin cavities.
Repeat the process to create 24 layered disks and fill all the cavities of the muffin tin.
If the “test” disk doesn’t comfortably fit in the cavity, you can easily adjust it by removing one layer of fyllo circle and testing again.
Repeat, until you find the right number of layers.
Then go back to the buttered fyllo package accordingly and remove the appropriate number of fyllo layers before cutting the rest of the disks.
Unused fyllo sheets: they can be kept in the refrigerator for a few days, wrapped well to protect them from drying out.
Buttered fyllo sheets and trimmings: you can cut them in pieces and bake them till crisp; they are a nice snack on their own and a wonderful addition as a topping over anything you want to crisp up, like salads, ice creams etc.
Fill up 3/4 of each galaktoboureko case with the semolina custard, spreading it to fill the cavities of the folds, as well.
You will have some semolina custard left over, this is the chef’s treat, enjoy it dusted with cinnamon.
Put the muffin tin in the preheated oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, until the galaktoboureko bites are a lovely, golden colour. You will notice that they puff up; this is ok, they will deflate afterwards.
Remove from the oven and immediately, while they are still hot, pour the prepared lukewarm syrup (from step 1) to fill the cavities up to the top.
Wait for a couple of minutes and repeat.
Leave the galaktoboureko bites in the muffin tin for 1-2 hours to absorb the syrup, before removing them and placing them on a wire rack.
If you leave them in the muffin tin for too long, they will lose their crispness.
Dust with cinnamon just before serving.
The galaktoboureko bites are crispier the day they are made.
However, their flavour improves as they sit, so they taste better the next day.
To prevent them from losing their crispness, put them in a container in a single layer and cover with a towel, leaving them at room temperature.