Walnut Cigars and a “Measure-less Monday”



The turning of the new year is a time for renewal, self-improvement, and un-attainable goals.  I should be making New Years resolutions…but instead I’m making dessert.

I enter the new year a little nervous, but hopeful for all that it may hold.  I can already tell my measuring cups won’t be neatly leveled off, and my tablespoons may be a bit over-filled, but I’ll gladly take that over the alternative.

And so without further ado, I’d like to introduce the first “Measure-less” Monday.  Cooking in the style of life.  I invite you to trust your instincts, throw most of your care to the wind, and just cook.  Measure-less Mondays won’t happen every Monday–or every other Monday, for that matter…that is not in their nature.  They will be sporadic, and improvised, with a little wiggle room for your own interpretation.

The first Measure-less Monday “recipe” comes from A Platter of Figs by David Tanis, and embodies everything I hope for you and I in 2011.  Honest ingredients like walnuts and honey…celebratory and a little indulgent with butter and sugar, and of course, made complex with a couple surprise ingredients, just like life.

Walnut Cigars

Adapted from A Platter of Figs by David Tanis

Makes 20 cigars (Supposedly.  I made 7 larger cigars)

A Platter of Figs reads like one of my favorite novels. Tanis’ recipes are specific when need-be, but explained in that “little bit of this, little bit of that” way that allows you to trust your instincts.


  • 2 cups shelled walnuts, toasted if desired
  • Sugar
  • Melted butter (about 2 sticks)
  • Orange flower water
  • Almond extract
  • cinnamon
  • Phyllo dough from a package, thawed**
  • Honey
  • Shelled pistachios, chopped (I used salted pistachios and was pleasantly surprised)

Preheat the oven to 375˚F.

Make the Filling:

Chop the walnuts.  Add sugar to taste, and 3 tablespoons of melted butter.  Sprinkle with orange flower water (start with a small amount, taste, and adjust), a few drops of almond extract, and some cinnamon.  Add a splash of cold water (a few tablespoons) and stir.

Roll the Cigars:

For each cigar, brush a sheet of phyllo dough with melted butter.  Fold the sheet in half lengthwise, then brush with butter again.  Place 2 to 3 tablespoons walnuts (or more) in a strip along the short end of the phyllo.  Roll the phyllo around the walnuts (like an eggroll, see photos above).  Place on a buttered baking sheet, side by side but not touching.  Brush with more melted butter and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, or until golden and crisp.  Drizzle with honey and sprinkle with chopped pistachios.


•I used whole wheat phyllo dough and was very happy with the result!

•To prevent the phyllo dough from drying out (and tearing), cover the stack of sheets you aren’t using with a damp (not wet) paper towel.


Filed under Desserts

7 responses to “Walnut Cigars and a “Measure-less Monday”

  1. Ann

    “Measure-Less” Mondays! I love that idea. Trusting your instincts, cares to the wind, and just cooking…what a lovely and exciting idea! I will have to incorporate a few MLM’s into my life!

  2. Those look fabulous- so nutty and delicious!

  3. These look great! Kind of like baklava (which I LOVE!) I just got David Tanis’s 2nd book as a gift and am super excited to cook from it! I should really check out a Platter of Figs.

  4. Those look marvelous….like less-sticky baklava. 🙂

  5. Jun

    Beautiful. Thanks for sharing this recipe. Now I don’t need to store-bought mine.

  6. Thanks Jen! It looks wonderful!

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