1 pound sweet cherries, pitted
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¼ cup sugar
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons cornstarch
¼ cup water
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons slivered or sliced almonds
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
8 sheets phyllo dough
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
8 small scoops frozen yogurt (optional)
Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a medium saucepan over medium-high, combine the cherries, sugar, lemon zest and juice. Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer gently for 5 minutes. In a small bowl whisk together the cornstarch and water. Add the cornstarch mixture to the cherries in a stream, whisking constantly. Return the mixture to a boil, then remove from the heat. Let the filling cool to room temperature.
Meanwhile, in a spice grinder, small blender or the small bowl of a food processor, pulse the almonds with the sugar and cinnamon until finely chopped but not pulverized. Transfer to a small bowl.
Fold the stack of phyllo sheets in half, then fold it in half again and trim off the edges (reserving the trimmings), to produce a stack of 32 squares, each 4½-inches across.
Lay one phyllo square on a work surface, then use a pastry brush to lightly dab the square with a little of the melted butter. Sprinkle a teaspoon of the almond mixture on top, then set a second square over it. Brush the second square with a little more butter and sprinkle with another teaspoon of almond sugar.
Set a third square on top of the second at a 45 degree angle, forming an 8-pointed star. Top with one last square, brushing it lightly with butter. Drape the stack of phyllo over one cup of an overturned muffin pan. Mist the stack with cooking spray. Repeat this layering process to form another 7 stacks, also setting them over the muffin cups. Reserve a little of the almond mixture and butter.
Lay the phyllo trimmings flat and brush them with the remaining butter. Sprinkle them with the remaining almond mixture, then transfer them to a small baking pan.
Bake the phyllo shells and the scraps on the oven's middle shelf until golden brown, about 6 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.
To serve: Spoon the cherry filling into the shells, then top with the crispy scraps and the frozen yogurt, if using.
Nutrition values per serving: 190 calories, 8 g fat (3 g saturated), 29 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 13 g sugar, 3 g protein, 10 mg cholesterol, 95 mg sodium.
Chef Sara Moulton for The Associated Press