A straight-forward, no-frills pastry, this cherry strudel is a true delight. The recipe calls for bitter almond essence which gives a much stronger flavor than the usual almond extract.
- Plumped Cherries
- Apple Juice - 3 cups
- Dried Cherries - 1-1/2 cups
- Filo Sheets - 8
- Clarified Butter - 1/2 cup
- Cherries - 3/4 cup, plumped (from above)
- Almonds - 1 cup, sliced
- Granulated Sugar - 1/2 cup
- Almond Cream - 2 cups (recipe follows)
- Unsalted Butter - melted, for brushing
- Almond Cream
- Almond paste - 1/2 pound
- Almonds - 2-1/2 ounces, blanched
- Granulated Sugar - 1/4 cup
- Unsalted Butter - 1/2 cup, softened
- Eggs - 2
- All Purpose Flour - 1/2 cup
- Bitter Almond Essence - 1/4 teaspoon (alt. almond extract)
- Cherry Syrup
- Reserved plumping liquid - 2 cups (from above)
- Sugar - 1 cup
- Corn Syrup - 1 tablespoon
- Whole Cloves - 2
- Sauce Anglaise
- Half and half cream - 2 cups
- Egg Yolks - 6
- Granulated Sugar - 1/2 cup
- Vanilla Beans - 1/2, seeds scraped
- Plumped Cherries (from above)
- Sliced Almonds
To plump the cherries: In a medium sauce pan over medium high heat, bring 3 cups apple juice to boil. Place 1-1/2 cups dried cherries in a bowl and pour apple juice over top. Allow to stand one hour until cherries are fully rehydrated and plumped. Reserve plumping liquid for use in preparing cherry syrup.
To prepare the almond cream: In a food processor, combine almond paste, almonds, and sugar. Process until pulverized and a uniform, sandy texture is achieved. In a mixer, cream the butter and almond mixture. Add eggs; add flour and mix well. Add almond essence and mix again to combine.
To assemble the strudel: On a large work surface, butter two sheets of filo. These sheets will serve as a base to two separate stacks. Once buttered, place a second layer of filo on each stack. Butter, sprinkle with sugar and sliced almonds on this second layer. Continue in this manner one more time. On one filo stack, spread almond cream evenly over the surface being careful not to tear filo. (The chef recommends using wet hands to disperse almond cream, then spread with a spatula.) Once almond cream is spread, sprinkle surface with plumped cherries. Place the second stack of filo layers on top of the almond/cherry layer. With the short side of the filo towards you, roll the filo layers in jellyroll fashion. Place strudel seam side down on baking sheet. Brush with melted butter. Bake in a preheated 375 degree F oven for 35 minutes until evenly golden brown.
To prepare the cherry syrup: Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Bring mixture to a boil. Allow to cook, stirring constantly, until mixture reaches a light syrup consistency.
To prepare the Sauce Anglaise: Bring half and half, 1/4 cup of sugar, and vanilla to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Whisk together the egg yolks and the remaining sugar. Slowly pour hot mixture into egg yolk mixture, while constantly whisking. Pour this mixture back into the saucepan, and continue whisking over medium high heat until mixture is thickened.
To serve: Cut strudel into slices. Pool sauce anglaise in the center of serving plates; drizzle cherry syrup around outer edge. Place strudel slices on top. Garnish with reserved plumped cherries and sliced almonds.