Good friend and correspondent Amanda emailed me this recipe, along with a firm request that I make it for her.  As soon as I saw the word “strudel,” I balked.  You know what a frickin’ pain making strudel is?  It’s ridiculous.  I don’t even know why anybody would bother messing with it.

And then I saw that the recipe calls for store-bought puff pastry.  A-ha!  That I can live with.  It doesn’t make for a proper strudel (which has rolled layers of tissue-thin laminated dough), but close enough.

Puff pastry’s not that hard to make; it’s the rolling it out tissue-thin and wrapping up the strudel without tearing the dough that frickin’ blows.  Feuilletage rapide–quick puff pastry–is easier than falling off a log, and good for any traditional puff pastry use except for vol-au-vent, which nobody makes anyway.

I highly recommend that you start monkeying around with puff pastry, store-bought or otherwise.  Good stuff.

Chocolate walnut strudel 

 

1 egg
1 tablespoon water
4 squares (1 ounce each) semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 package Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Sheets (1 sheet), thawed
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Confectioners’ sugar

Directions:

Heat the oven to 375F. Beat the egg and water in a small bowl with a fork.

Place the chocolate, milk and butter into a medium microwaveable bowl. Microwave on MEDIUM for 30 seconds. Stir. Repeat until the mixture is melted and smooth.

Unfold the pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface. Roll the pastry sheet into a 16×12-inch rectangle. Spread the chocolate mixture on the pastry to within 1 1/2 inches of the edge. Sprinkle with the walnuts. Starting at a short side, roll up like a jelly roll. Place seam-side down onto a baking sheet. Tuck the ends under to seal. Brush with the egg mixture.

Bake for 35 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown. Let the strudel cool on the baking sheet on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Sprinkle with the confectioners’ sugar.

To decorate the strudel, thaw and roll out another pastry sheet into a 12-inch square. Cut the pastry into shapes using a cookie cutter. Press the cut-outs onto the top of the unbaked strudel and brush with the egg mixture. Bake as directed above.

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