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Phyllo shells (Recipe: teeny tiny lime tarts)

Updated October 2011.


When Ted and I moved to Boston's South End in 1980, it took me a week or so to tumble onto The Syrian Grocery. The Mansour family ran it then, as they have for more than 60 years, and it quickly became my go-to market when I needed to pull a rabbit out of my very small culinary hat.

Ethnic markets offer a world of possibilities for cooks, and for the cooking-challenged. The Syrian Grocery saved me time and again, with marinated olives and sharp cheeses for appetizers, benne wafers and halvah for dessert.

One of my discoveries at that tiny market quickly became, and remains, a fixture in my pantry: phyllo shells that hold one or two bites of savory appetizer quiches or sweet desserts.

Phyllo, fillo, filo....all the same, all pronounced fee-lo, all from the Greek word meaning "leaf," and that's just what these pastry shells are — leaves of paper-thin dough made from flour and water and a bit of oil, layered with melted butter, and formed into ready-to-use shells. Phyllo originated in Turkey, and features in the cuisines of many Mediterranean and Balkan countries: think strudel, spanakopita, baklava.

Phyllo shells

Any filling you'd use with sheets of phyllo dough will work with these little shells. Keep a box in the freezer; pull them out, fill them, and pop them into the oven for 12-14 minutes. Elegant!


Teeny tiny lime tarts

From the pantry, you'll need: sweetened condensed milk, lime, mini-phyllo shells.

Bet you can't eat just one! Inspired by a recipe on the Athens Fillo site, this easy recipe makes 15 mini-tarts. And the best part? No cooking.


1/2 cup softened cream cheese
1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1/4 tsp lime zest
1 package mini-phyllo shells, defrosted if previously frozen
thin slices of lime or shaved dark chocolate, for garnish


In a small bowl, combine cream cheese and condensed milk, and beat with a whisk or immersion blender until fluffy. Stir in lime juice and zest. Chill for 1 hour. Fill a pastry bag, fitted with a star tip, with the chilled cream, and fill each tart shell. Garnish with sliced lime or shaved chocolate, and serve immediately.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:
Phyllo nests topped with sorbet
Cheese phyllo triangles
One-bite vegetable quiche
Easy fruit and Nutella puff pastry tartlets
Turkey and cheese in puff pastry

Other recipes that use these pantry ingredients:
Nirvana bars -- chocolate and coconut bliss, from Gluten-Free Goddess
Hot brie kisses, from Recipe Girl
Maple pumpkin cheesecake, from Cooking on the Side
Peanut butter fudge, from Food Blogga
Shrimp ceviche in phyllo cups, from Eclectic Recipes

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


A quick filling is: mix lemon curd with Creamy Cool Whip (it holds up better than fresh whipped cream). Put in pastry bag or plastic bag (cut off corner) and fancy fill these delightful little shells for an elegant dessert. Hint: if bringing to a pot luck, keep filling and shells separate until ready to serve. This keeps the shell crispy.

These shells are fabulous! I have only ever used them for savory bites. I can’t wait to try your lime tarts!

Kathy, welcome to The Perfect Pantry. I usually use these for savory little quiches -- mix an egg or two, throw in some herbs from the garden, a bit of chive or onion, some Parmigiano-Reggiano, and black pepper. What do you make?

My favorite recipe using these mini shells: Curried Shrimp Almond Canapés-Mix together-1 cup minced cooked shrimp (or crabmeat), 1 cup mayonnaise, ¼ cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese, 1/3 cup ground almonds, ¼ cup minced parsley, 2 large minced shallots, 2 t. fresh lemon juice, 1 ½ (+) t. curry powder, salt and pepper. Fill shells. Bake about 10 minutes until cheese is melted. Garnish with toasted slivered almonds.

This make about 5-6 dozen canapés. The filling can be made in advance. Everyone loves them-I hope you do too!

this is my first blog post. i made the teeny tiny lime tarts yesterday for a family bbq. it was almost silly how easy they were to make and everyone was quite impressed! I didn't have a pastry bag so I chilled the filling in a ziplock, cut the corner off and squirted it right in the shells.

Kassie, welcome to The Perfect Pantry. So glad you liked the lime tarts. Let me know what else you do with these little phyllo shells -- they're addictive!

Merry Christmas to you from Houston, TX.!

I just found you and am pleased about that. Have you made Dulce de leche FUDGE before? I purchased some at Costco and it is delicious. It is thicker than a sauce, but very soft. Do you have a recipe to share for this fudge? I would like to use my pressure cooker to make it if possible.
Happy 2011!

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