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I first came across this recipe for Phyllo Wrapped Bananas during our last week in Ottawa. We were down to a few canned goods, a number of mysteriously shaped Ziploc lumps in the freezer and some borderline bananas on the counter. As luck would have it, one of those ice-encrusted freezer packets was a roll of phyllo pastry leftover from an experimental cranberry apple Christmas log.

There was a time, in fact, when The Casual Baker name was virtually synonymous with phyllo. I was the queen of phyllo wrapped things: sweet and savoury, squares and triangles, bûches and bundles. My affinity for phyllo faded when I moved to Paris and found myself suddenly surrounded by an entire grocery aisle section devoted to delicious pastry of every variety: salted, sugared and puffed. The occasional pang for phyllo's crisp buttery flake was easily subdued with a trip to the nearby Algerian pâtisserie for a slice of baklava and cup of sweet mint tea.

Back in Vancouver, where the pre-packaged pastry comes in the unsavoury choice of lard or shortening, the Middle Eastern alternative quickly regained its appeal. It seemed somehow fitting to reintroduce phyllo into our lives in the same way we bid it farewell.

People are always going on about good things coming in small packages. When it comes to Phyllo Wrapped Bananas, the bigger the better I say.

Phyllo Wrapped Bananas

1/4 cup dried cherries
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
8 sheets phyllo pastry
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped roughly
4 small bananas
3 tablespoons rum (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Soak dried cherries in hot water for 5 minutes to soften, then drain.

In a small bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Stir in the sugar and vanilla extract.

Work with one sheet of phyllo at a time and keep the remaining sheets covered with a damp towel. Cut the first sheet of phyllo in half. Brush the first half with butter, place the second half on top and brush with more butter. Repeat the process with another sheet of phyllo cut in half. In the end, you will have used 2 sheets of phyllo to create 4 layers.

Spread 2 tablespoons of the cream cheese mixture in the centre of the pastry. Sprinkle a few dried cherries and a heaping tablespoon of chopped chocolate on top.

Peel a banana, cut it in half and place the 2 pieces next to each other on top of the filling. Sprinkle with rum.

Fold in the edges over the banana and roll up into a square package, using butter to seal the seams along the way. Brush the outside lightly with butter.

Create 3 more packages with the remaining bananas.

Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Serve immediately.

Yields 4.

Notes:The original recipe calls for these phyllo packages to be served with chocolate sauce, but I think they're sufficiently decadent as they are.

Source: Sugar by Anna Olson, 2004.