One of my fondest memories growing up was going to Hans and Harry's Bakery and picking up a fresh fruit strudel. The ride home was sheer torture because as soon as we got into the car, the sweet aroma of buttery pastry would swirl around me and make my mouth water. It took every bit of restraint for me not to open the box and pluck a strawberry right off. If you've ever tasted their fruit strudel, you know exactly how I feel (if you haven't, I strongly recommend that you do). Admit it, you've thought about taking a strawberry (or two) before making it home.
Years later, I was lucky enough to work there and learn how to make these delicious strudels. No, I'm not going to divulge their recipe (are you kidding me?), but I will offer up my homemade version. It's almost as good as the original and the best part is you can customize it to your heart's desire. You can even munch on a few strawberries and no one will ever know. It's okay. I won't tell.
Fresh Fruit Strudel
Allergy note: contains wheat and dairy
1 package of frozen puff pastry dough
turbinado sugar (Sugar in the Raw) or light brown sugar
4 Tbsp. water
1 envelope unflavored gelatin (1/4 ounce or 7.2 grams)
2 cups whipping cream, cold
1 8-oz. package cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
14 oz. can of coconut milk
14 oz. can of coconut milk
1/2 cup rice milk
5 oz. box Jello instant vanilla pudding mix
seedless raspberry jam
*Fresh fruits that are in season work best, but if they're not available or limited, you can use canned or frozen fruits instead. I used canned peaches and frozen blueberries myself :-)
If you're going to use frozen blueberries, put them on the fruit strudel while they're still frozen - they'll be too messy to handle if you let them thaw first. Don't worry, they'll be at room temperature by they time you're ready to serve it.
To prepare the pastry:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Let the puff pastry thaw at room temperature (about 40 minutes). Brush a little bit of water along each side of the puff pastry and fold about 1/2 inch inward. Press and seal the edges. Brush on top of the edges with a little water and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Dock with a fork and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Let it cool completely before assembling the fruit strudel.
To make the cream:
In a small bowl, sprinkle the unflavored gelatin over the water. Let the gelatin bloom for a few minutes (it will absorb some water and swell up a bit). Add 1/4 cup of the whipping cream and microwave for a minute or until the gelatin is completely dissolved. Set aside.
Whip the cream cheese then add the whipping cream, sugar and salt in a mixing bowl. Whip to soft peak stage. Add gelatin mixture and vanilla. Continue to whip to stiff peaks.
To make the vegan filling:
Using an electric mixer, beat together coconut milk, rice milk and Jello instant vanilla pudding mix until thicken. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour.
To assemble the fruit strudel:
Spread some seedless raspberry jam on the bottom of the puff pastry. Spread a layer of cream filling and top with fruits. Sprinkle with powdered sugar just before serving.
NOTE: Instead of powdered sugar, you can brush a nice shiny glaze on the fruit strudel. Just mix together some apricot jam or preserves with a tiny bit of water. Heat in the microwave for a minute or so until melted. Let it cool then use a pastry brush to lightly glaze the strudel.