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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Apple Puff Pastry Dessert - Skills Improvement Level l

Now here is a dessert I could take to work! After my rather dismal adventure yesterday with weighing down puff pastry with a load of jam, I decided to try another puff pastry recipe.

Before I ramble on any further, my "Apple Puff Pastry Dessert," from That's My Home, was a huge success. My boss even buzzed me on the intercom to say it was his favorite of the cakes so far! (Pity I work as a civil servant - no raises for bringing in cake, only union raises, which are few and far between.)

So now I am all eager to climb the puff pastry ladder. Once again I used Pepperidge Farm and made a simple braid. It cut nicely into 8 slices and I advised the group to blits it for about 20 seconds in the microwave. Cold apple slices just don't do anything for me.

It was easy to make. I let it bake for 30-35 minutes without peeking at it a hundred times (which is what I usually do). In fact I was on the phone with a friend, which is an excellent way not to obsess about baking time.

Now the big thing is I am so excited about becoming a good puff pastry baker. Vibi of La Casserole Caree has given me some excellent advice to keep the pastry cold and to start the oven at 400 degrees to "shock" the pastry into puffing up - that will be my next step, also to get Trader Joe's puff pastry, which, I believe, is all butter.

That will be Level 2 of puff pastry skills improvement. Level 3 will be using a quick, make-it-yourself puff pastry recipe - I am sure that will be less expensive than Trader Joe's. No Dufour pastry - just too pricey.

Then my plan for Level 4 is to make the real, time-consuming puff pastry. But that will be a one-time challenge - just don't have the time to nurse it for so many hours on a regular basis.

After that I will be all puffed up with conceit and able to make desserts and appetizers that I thought were the territory of bakery shops.

Here is the Apple Puff Pastry Dessert recipe:

Apple Puff Pastry Dessert
2 C. peeled and sliced apples

1/3 C. firmly packed brown sugar

2 T. margarine

1/4 C. light corn syrup

1/2 C. chopped walnuts

1/4 t. cinnamon

Nonstick cooking spray

3 oz. cream cheese, softened

2 T. sugar

1/4 t. vanilla extract

1 egg, separated (1 egg yolk and 1 white)

1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed (half of a 17 1/4-ounce package)

1 t. water

1/4 to 1/2 C. confectioners' sugar, sifted

In a large skillet, place the apple slices, brown sugar, margarine, corn syrup, walnuts and cinnamon. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes or until the apple slices are almost tender. Drain the apples, reserving syrup. Cool the apple mixture.

Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray; set aside. Preheat the oven to 375°F.

In a medium bowl, combine the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla and egg yolk. Set aside.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll the pastry sheet into a 12 x 10-inch rectangle. Place on the prepared baking sheet. Spread the cream cheese mixture vertically down the center one-third of the pastry. Place the cooled apple mixture on the cheese. Cut the sides of the pastry into 1-inch strips to fold over the filling. Starting at one end, alternately cross strips at an angle, gently pressing onto the apples. Mix the egg white with water, and brush the mixture on the top and sides of the pastry.

Bake 35 minutes or until golden brown. While the pastry is baking, mix together the reserved syrup with the desired amount of confectioners' sugar to make a glaze. Remove the pastry from the oven, cool about 10 minutes, then drizzle with the glaze. Serve warm or cold.

Serves 8.