Apple Strudel

1/4 cup bourbon or apple juice
1/2 cup golden raisins
2-3 Granny Smith apples (about 1 pound), peeled, cored, halved, and thinly sliced
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 T. lemon zest, finely chopped
1 t. ground cinnamon, plus more for sprinkling
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup crushed shortbread cookies
1/4 cup chopped pecans
2 T. butter, cut into pieces
5 (or more if desired) sheets phyllo dough from 1 pound pkg of frozen dough
melted butter for brushing phyllo sheets
1 T. sugar
Confectioners’ sugar
Caramel sauce (jar)

Glaze:
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
3 1/2 T. milk
(Mix together thoroughly)

For the strudel:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a small bowl, pour the bourbon or apple juice over the raisins and microwave on high 45 seconds. Let sit for 15 minutes.
Combine the raisins, apples, lemon juice, lemon zest, cinnamon, brown sugar, cookie crumbs, pecans, and butter in a large bowl.
Remove the phyllo dough from the box, unfold and cover with a damp towel. Place 1 sheet phyllo on the work surface and brush lightly with melted butter. Repeat with the remaining sheets, brushing each with melted butter, stacking when done, being sure to keep the unbuttered phyllo covered so it does not dry out.

Place the apple mixture on the nearest third of the phyllo stack, being sure to leave a 2-inch border. Gently lift the bottom edge of the phyllo stack to cover the filling and fold the side edges over. Continue to roll the stack away from you until the filling is completely sealed in and the seam is on the bottom. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Brush the top with melted butter and sprinkle with granulated sugar.

Bake for 30 minutes until golden brown. Pour over the glaze and sprinkle with cinnamon and confectioners’ sugar. Serve with warm caramel sauce.

I’ve also made a Cherry Cheese Strudel with cherry pie filling and a mixture of cream cheese, eggs and sugar. Spread the cream cheese mixture generously on 1/3 of phyllo stack (same as instructions for apple)
and then place several spoonfuls of cherry pie filling over the top. The phyllo will have to be folded up and over the filling and a few extra sheets buttered and placed over the top and tucked in underneath to seal in the filling.

Chocolate-Glazed Peanut Butter Tart

Yields one 9.5″ tart; serves twelve

Filling and Crust:

1 Press-In Cookie Crust, preferably chocolate, baked and cooled

1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/4 t. salt
3 large egg yolks
1/3 c. very firmly packed light brown sugar
4 t. flour
4.5 oz. (1/2 cup) creamy peanut butter, preferably natural
1/2 t. vanilla

For the Glaze:

3 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
3 oz (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces
1 T. light corn syrup

Make the filling:

In a medium saucepan, bring the milk and salt to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks, brown sugar, and flour until well blended. Slowly add the hot milk, whisking constantly. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until it thickens and comes to a full boil, about 3 minutes. Continue to cook, whisking constantly, for 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat and add the peanut butter and vanilla; whisk until well blended.

Pour the hot peanut butter mixture into the crust and spread evenly with a rubber spatula. Gently press a piece of plastic wrap directly on the filling’s surface to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate the tart until cold, about 2 hours, before proceeding with the recipe.

Make the Glaze:

Melt the chocolate with the butter and corn syrup and whisk until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth, about 2 minute. Carefully remove the plastic wrap from the top of the chilled filling. Drizzle the glaze over the filling and spread it evenly to cover the tart completely. Refrigerate the tart in the pan until the glaze sets, about 30 minutes or up to 12 hours.

Pumpkin Pastry Puffs

Pumpkin Filling:
6 oz. cream cheese
1/2 cup canned pumpkin (squeeze between paper towels to remove excess moisture)
1 lg. egg
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp. finely grated orange zest
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. nutmeg

Sour Cream Pastry Dough:
2 cups flour
1/8 tsp. salt
2 sticks butter, chilled and cut into 1/4″ slices
1/2 c. sour cream
2 tsp. powdered sugar

Top With:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
3/4 tsp. cinnamon

Pastry Instructions:
Put the flour and salt in a 3-quart bowl, and stir to blend. Scatter the butter slices over the flour, and cut in with a pastry blender until the mixture consists of particles that vary in size from small peas to bread crumbs. Stir in the sour cream with a fork. The pastry will appear dry because the sour cream is thick and does not disperse easily. With your hands, manipulate dough into a ball. Divide dough as recipe directs. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate until cold and firm, at least 4 hours and up to 3 days. The dough can be frozen for up to 1 month.

Divide the pastry into 3 (5-inch) squares about 5/8 inch thick. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate until cold and firm, at least 4 hours.

To make the filling, process all of the filling ingredients in a food processor bowl until mixture is smooth and blended.

Remove 1 pastry square from the refrigerator. Set a side for 10 minutes before rolling it. On a floured work surface, roll the pastry into a rectangle until less than 1/8-inch thick. With a ruler and a pastry wheel, trim the ragged edges and then cut the pastry into 3-inch squares. Lay the pastry squares across the top of an un-greased 12-cup miniature muffin pan, each cup measuring 1 1/2 inches across and 3/4 inch deep, centering each square over one cup. Spoon 1 heaping teaspoon of filling on each square, then bring opposite corners to the center and press lightly to seal. This process will also ease the pastry into each cup. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Roll and shape the remaining pastry squares in the same fashion.

Adjust rack to lower third of oven and preheat to 375 degrees F.

Bake 2 or 3 pans at a time for about 20 to 25 minutes or until pastries are light brown. Remove pan from oven to a wire rack for about 10 minutes. Remove pastries from pan to a wire rack to cool completely. Sift powdered sugar and cinnamon together and sprinkle pastries before serving at room temperature. If not serving the same day, stack the pastries in airtight plastic containers and freeze for up to 2 weeks. To serve, reheat to freshen in a 325 degree preheated oven for about 7 to 12 minutes or until warm, cool slightly, and decorate with powdered sugar and cinnamon.