Wrap Your Cookies In Phyllo Dough For A Crispy Bite

If you love cookies (and who doesn't), you appreciate them in all forms — bite-sized, colossal, plain, or filled with everything but the kitchen sink. Experienced bakers can manipulate recipes, adding or subtracting ingredients to influence the texture, creating a chewy or crispy cookie, but what if you want it all? Wrap your dough in phyllo to make cookies with a chewy center and crispy bite, delivering the best of both worlds. 

Found in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine, phyllo (or filo) is a tissue-thin, unleavened dough that's traditionally used in baklava, spanakopita, strudel, and börek to create sweet and savory dishes with flaky layers. Available in the supermarket's frozen food aisle, phyllo comes folded in sheets that are layered for dishes. The dough doesn't contain much fat, so depending on the recipe, oil or melted butter is brushed in between the stacked layers to 'fry' the dough, creating a delicate crispiness.

Without a discernable flavor, phyllo dough can be used with any drop cookie recipe, adding texture to the cookie's exterior while keeping the center soft. Don't waste your time using this technique on cookie recipes requiring rolling, cutting, and chilling the dough. Stick with doughs that are prepared quickly and 'dropped' in spoonfuls on cookie sheets to bake. These recipes usually contain flour, butter, sugar, eggs, and a leavening agent like baking soda or baking powder. Just think of all the possibilities: oatmeal raisin, chocolate chip, snickerdoodle, molasses, sugar, and every cookie variation in between.

Tips for making phyllo-wrapped cookies

Allow the phyllo dough to defrost overnight in the refrigerator and bring it to room temperature two hours before baking. It's critical to keep the thin sheets covered with plastic wrap and a damp towel until you use them to prevent drying out.

Carefully brush melted butter or cooking spray on each sheet, stacking three to make the cookies. Don't worry if the phyllo tears as you brush on the butter — patch the area with another piece of phyllo. Each sheet is roughly 9 by 14 inches, making six generous cookies per stack. Use a pizza cutter or sharp knife to cut the phyllo horizontally into thirds, then in half vertically. 

For the greatest contrast in texture, use recipes containing brown sugar rather than white. Brown sugar contains molasses and has a higher moisture content, creating softer, chewier cookies. The phyllo can be folded into triangles, wrapped into square bundles, pinched into a beggar's purse, or rolled like a cigar — as long as the dough is completely encased. Since cookie dough rises and spreads as it bakes, leaving a little room in the phyllo package is essential, so you don't spring a leak.

The cookies are done once the phyllo is golden brown, so evenly portion the dough to ensure the cookies bake at the same rate. Since the phyllo provides a layer of insulation, add a few minutes to the recipe to ensure the cookie dough is baked through. 

Additional phyllo-wrapped dessert ideas

Add another dimension to phyllo-wrapped cookies by flavoring each layer. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar, chopped nuts, cocoa powder, citrus zest, or sea salt on the melted butter. The toppings will add flavor and texture to the finished cookies. 

If you're short on time, use store-bought frozen cookie dough to make the recipe. Or skip the trip to the supermarket and look in your pantry for an even easier version. Replace the cookie dough with a heaping tablespoon of chocolate hazelnut spread like Nutella or cookie butter like Biscoff. Top the filling with shredded coconut, sliced bananas, or chocolate chips before sealing the edges and baking them. Once cooled slightly, top them with fresh berries and dust the dessert with confectioner's sugar. Once you bite into the crispy shell, a molten center oozes out. 

Use phyllo as the base for gift-worthy bark to share during special events. Bake a stack of eight buttered sheets of phyllo, then top the golden brown pastry with melted chocolate and garnish with additional toppings like chopped nuts or dried fruit. Once the chocolate sets, break the sheets into shards.

Create delicious ice cream sandwiches by replacing the traditional cookies with flaky phyllo. Sandwich two full-sheet stacks of baked phyllo with softened ice cream and place the sheet pan-sized ice cream sandwich into the freezer until the ice cream hardens. Once frozen, use a sharp knife to cut the giant ice cream sandwich into 12 servings.