This recipe for dhaktyla is relatively easy. The pastries are wonderful sticky little fingers that you see in every bakery in Cyprus; they look a bit like tiny Christmas crackers and, unlike many Cypriot pastries, are light and fluffy if made properly.
The best ones I have ever tasted have been home-made by a Cypriot friend and, if I am honest, I have only tried this recipe for dhaktyla once and it was something of a disaster...instead of being light and slightly fluffy inside, they were greasy and very heavy. My Cypriot friend told me that several attempts are needed to get it just right...!
If you'd like to have a go, here is an authentic recipe for dhaktyla from a Cypriot friend. Just remember not to be too disappointed if your first attempt is unsuccessful.
DHAKTYLA -sticky little finger pastries (serves a big family or two very greedy people!)
For the pastry:
6 cups flour
6 tablespoons oil (peanut or corn oil is best)
water to mix about 1.5 cups
For the syrup:
2 cups sugar
1 cup water
juice of half a lemon
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon bitter orange water
For the filling:
2 cups ground almonds
5 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
Plus lots of oil for deep frying the dhaktyla.
As this an old recipe, all measurements are in CUPS. A cup is equivalent to 150g or 250ml.
How to prepare it:
First make your pastry:
Sift the flour and mix together with the salt in a mixing bowl. Make a hole in the middle, pour in the oil then rub the oil into the flour using your fingertips. Then add enough water to make a smooth, firm dough. Kneed your dough well and form it into small balls (8-10) then cover them and let them rest for a few hours.
Next, roll out your pastry into thin leaves or "fillos":
Take each ball of pastry, flour your hands and your rolling pin and try to roll your ball into a very thin "leaf" of pastry about 1/8" thick. Then cut your pastry into 9cm squares.
When you are ready to make your dhaktyla, get everything prepared first:
Put your sugar and water into a pan and bring to the boil. Let it boil for a couple of minutes then take it off the heat and
add your lemon juice, honey and orange water.
Pour your fat into a large heavy based pan and put on the stove ready for heating.
Make your filling by mixing together the almonds, sugar and cinnamon.
Put a teaspoon of fillling in the centre of each 9cm square and fold it into a long, finger like parcel. Press down the ends with a fork so they look like tiny Christmas crackers. Lift the fingers with a knife and fork and put onto a tray ready for frying.
Once all the fingers are made, heat the oil until very hot. Place a few fingers at a time into the hot oil and turn them carefully until pale golden in colour. Then lift them from the hot oil and place into the syrup until well coated. Finally lift the little fingers out of the syrup and leave to cool on a plate before eating.
Enjoy your sticky little treat. Mmm!
Tips: Your dhaktyla will keep for several days in an airtight container in the fridge...but they will probably not last more than a few hours. If, like me, you are not very good at making pastry, just cheat a little and buy some frozen fillo pastry...