Pear, Chocolate & Hazelnut Strudel

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My mum is a sucker for apple strudel. Just mention those hallowed words and watch the mist come over her. She’s no fool with them either, dismissing several local offerings with authority. Having never put a toe anywhere in Germany until then (and this was the early nineties), it does beg the question – how on earth did she know what she was looking for?

Mum instinctively understood the finer nuances of the perfect Bavarian strudel.  “It’s NOT filo pastry as you know it!”, mum insisted on a recent phone call, “It was so incredibly fine you could see through it! And it had a slight crackle sound as you cut through, but didn’t shatter. The apples were never sliced but baked in chunks, holding shape but fork-tender and combined with cinnamon, plump raisins and walnuts. Sublime!”. The only establishment that satisfied her educated greed was The Bavaria Cafe, tucked, unassumingly, in a quiet street, in a quiet part of Abu Dhabi. Blink and you’d miss it. Mum would treat us there every few months, I’d order the strudel as well and my love of apple desserts blossomed.

Which is why I feel a bit sheepish with this post, like a child who is about to get chided. There’s no love-letter-thin home made pastry; I’ve used the abomination to a strudel that is pre-packaged filo pastry. The apples are replaced by pears, that too, sliced. A double misdemeanour. I also tossed aside the raisins and replaced walnuts with hazelnuts, blitzed with cocoa powder and icing sugar. The memory of my mother’s home baked, real-deal apple strudel hovers over me, remonstratingly, but the taste of my heathen take on her classic proves it’s worth breaking the rules a bit. Live life in the fast lane, that’s me.

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It’s definitely not about reinventing the wheel. Pears, hazelnuts and chocolate are a classic combination. Put them together in any situation – cake, muffins, pudding – and they dance harmoniously. All my baking books brought up tarts and cakes but I was looking for a lighter affair. So after a couple of goes, and a few packets of filo pastries later, this one pushed all the right buttons. The chocolate hit comes from cocoa powder, which is blitzed together with toasted hazelnuts and icing sugar, bringing out a refined Nutella vibe. While baking, the thinly sliced pears give out their juices which run into the chocolate-nut mixture, creating a delicious sauce and keeping everything moist. Traditional strudels are basted with milk, cream or even sour cream several times towards the end of the cooking time, but I didn’t try that. I might do one day, when I’m gripped by strudel pastry making enthusiasm, but for now, my slovenly ways dictated that a brushing of butter was sufficient. And indeed, it was.

The end result was crackly, light pastry encasing sweet, soft, cinnamon perfumed pears in a nubbly hazelnut and chocolate sauce. A thick dusting of icing sugar just makes it all looks ravishingly pretty. While you can assemble the strudel a day in advance, it doesn’t cope well with being ignored after it’s out of the oven. Don’t hang about, serve this right after you get scoops of rich vanilla ice cream, the perfect partner, on the sides of the plates. By this time the sauce would have cooled down enough to not spill out in puddles when sliced. And slice thickly, this is no time for rationing.

I wonder if mum would approve?!

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Pear, Chocolate & Hazelnut Strudel

  • Servings: 6 generously
  • Print

Pear Strudel Recipe Banenr

If your pears are not quite ripe, you could cheat a bit by cooking them in a pan with a little water, on a low heat, until they start to turn translucent and get blurry edged. Drain and let it cool before proceeding as below.

450-475 grams, ripe pears
50gm skinned hazelnuts
80gm icing sugar
1 rounded tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
good pinch of fine salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
3 sheets of filo pastry measuring approx, 48 x 25 cms
50gm butter, melted
2 tbsp caster sugar
Extra Icing sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 170deg C and place a baking sheet into the oven.

Peel, core and slice the pears thinly. Add to a bowl filled with cold water and a good squeeze of lemon juice, to stop the pears turning brown. Set aside.

Toast the hazelnuts either in the oven at 180 deg C for 10 minutes or in an oiless frying pan, until a little golden in colour and you can start to get the smell of hazelnuts. If doing it in a pan, move the nuts around to stop it scorching. Place into a food processor along with the cocoa powder, 80 gm of icing sugar, salt and the cinnamon, if using. Blitz until it’s all finely chopped and you can see the mix starting to begin to stick to the edge of the bowl because of the oil in the nuts. Stop before it starts to clump together. Set aside.

Melt the butter and get a soft bristled pastry brush ready. Dampen a tea towel and set aside.

Unwrap three sheets of filo pastry. Take one sheet, carefully (doesn’t matter if it slightly rips in places) and place on a sheet of baking paper as long as the sheet of pastry. Cover the remaining filo pastry with the damp tea towel, so that it won’t dry as you work. Brush the single sheet lightly with the melted butter and sprinkle over a tablespoon of caster sugar. Take another sheet of pastry and place over the first buttered sheet. Butter lightly and sprinkling with the remaining caster sugar. Place the last sheet over and again, butter lightly. Leaving a 3 cm border around all the sides, evenly spread your chocolate and hazelnut rubble over the pastry, until it’s around half a centimetre thick*. You might not need all of the mix.  . Drain the pears and blot with a clean kitchen towel. Spread them over the nut mix. It helps if you place the pears with the curved edge against the side you will be rolling from, ie, closest to you, as it rolls easier and prevents tears.

Brush the clear edges with butter. Fold in the long edge closest to you, over the fruit. Using the baking paper, start rolling the pastry loosely over the fruit, ensuring that you don’t roll it tightly, or it will tear as it expands on cooking. Tuck the side edges inwards as you roll the pastry. I got about one and a half turns. Make sure the seam lays at the bottom. Brush the pastry log lightly with butter. Carry it over to the oven and place on top of the preheated baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until it’s lightly golden. Don’t be too alarmed if there is a bit of juice leaking.

Take it out of the oven and leave it for 5-10 minutes, so that the juices can cool down and thicken a little. Sprinkle the golden strudel liberally with icing sugar and if you like, with some cocoa powder too. Cut into thick slices and serve warm with some good quality vanilla ice-cream.

It won’t last well. Best finish the lot!

* Any leftover Chocolate and Hazelnut mix can be stored in an airtight box in the fridge or freezer for use another time. Or, you can put the mix back into the food processor and add enough tepid milk and blitz to a smooth, spreadable consistency. Either spread on toast, or drop a small spoonful into the heart of some madeleines or enjoy it with just a spoon, like I did!

 

 

 

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63 comments

  1. Roger Dsouza

    Good memories…..

  2. I have to be honest, I didn’t even read your post and I apologize for that. Your photography is so impressive, I have to admit I am visually hungry right now. I almost wanna bug you about gear and lighting, etc.. , but I wont. I know those things help, but good taste and talent can’t be taught or explained.

  3. Ooh, yes please! That’s a stunning picture x

  4. MRG

    This looks delicious! I too am a sucker for a good strudel!! xo Marez

    http://cantcooksowhat.com

  5. This looks ridiculously good. Mmmmm.

  6. Good lord that looks good – fantastic photography of a fantastic strudel!

  7. I love strudel and this is such a tempting recipe and since I picked the first harvest of pears from our tree last night this is so timely! A beautifully written post and as ever, beautiful photography. Thank you so much for sharing! Xx Paula

  8. Lisa

    Your blog is so beautiful!

  9. Wow! What stunning photos, Carrie!! I also almost forgot to read your post as I was so distracted by this delicious strudel. I agree that pears and chocolate are a classic pairing and I’m sure they must be heavenly in strudel form. Mmmm!

  10. Stunning photos, beautiful strudel combo!! Your mother will be proud……and salivating

  11. Beautiful photos.

  12. jen

    amazing, what a combination! I think your mother will enjoy :-)

  13. Jean

    Just beautiful, Carrie.

  14. I’m sure even your mum would not complain about the addition of chocolate. Chocolate is never, ever a bad idea. Ever.
    Stunning photos and words as always. As for the strudel, I think I could easily polish off that entire log on my own!

  15. Your photographs have made your lovely strudel come to life. I adore all of these flavors and enjoyed reading about your process. Very well done!

  16. Gorgeous photos! I can’t wait to try this!

  17. The photos and of course the recipe are just divine :) I wouldn’t mind having a piece of it now :D
    Thanks for sharing :)

  18. A poire-belle-Hélène strudel, wild and wonderful (perhaps you need a dollop of vanilla ice cream for that) I will be making this one day. Thank you. Beautiful beautiful photographs.

  19. This is a gorgeous recipe! Photos are also beautiful :)

  20. This strudel looks so beautiful–it clearly must taste just as beautiful! :) Pears, chocolate and pastry–so perfect.

  21. Rushi!

    Gorgeous! I love the pear and chocolate combination, it’s a match made in foodie heaven. Where on earth did you see the pear and chocolate jam because I’d love to get my hands on one. I love studel and this one is out of the world. Bravo Carrie Bravo! :D

  22. My grandfather used to make apple strudel. It’s so funny because it was the only thing he baked, ever. And he was really really good at it. I suppose because he just loved strudel so much. I always thought it was so odd that he knew how to bake one thing, and that one thing was strudel. But it’s something I love to remember about him. This is so pretty!

    • Wow, Natasha, thank you for commenting! I love that tidbit about your grandfather. Better to be perfect at the one, special thing, than mediocre with many! Fantastic choice of pastry and such a lovely, warm way to be reminded of him. :)

  23. how beautifully you write. I read your post first and then look at the pictures!

  24. Pingback: Щрудел (shtrudel) с круши, шоколад и лешници | My Cooking Book Blog

  25. I have just come across your blog in wordpress reader and I am so glad I did. Beautiful writing and pictures combined with a mouth watering recipe. Chocolate and pear are the perfect combination!

  26. Wow!!!! Love your blog. Pics are wonderful. I am gonna try your recipe :)

  27. That strudel is a thing of beauty, I bet it was crisp and melting and delicious. Your photographs are fabulous as well!

  28. z

    So beautiful! Do you think i could assemble this 4-5 hours earlier and put it in the fridge and stick it in the oven right before serving? I’ve never made strudel. I was wondering if it would get soggy from the chocolate paste and pear juices while in the fridge.
    Thank you!

    • Hmmm that’s a good question. I’ve made Indian samosas using FILO pastry. Filled, folded and placed under a slightly damp cloth and the whole wrapped in cling film on a sheet. The issue I have in this case is that the sugar might draw out the juices from the pear and so as you say, itight get soggy. Let me ask a few folk who would know the answer properly and I will get back to you. :)

    • Oh I re-read your comment! Yes if it’s only a matter of hours I think you’ll be quite safe. You don’t wAnt the FILO drying out, so place it under a lightly dampened cloth and wrap the it holding the FILO and the cloth under a few layers of cling film. Allow to come to room temp for 20-30 minutes and then bake.

  29. Sooo beautiful! You are soo talented. Luv your photography! Sooo inspiring! 😊

  30. What a beautiful blog! I’ve just come accross it and am now devouring it bit by bit :-) So in love with this recipe. We have a pear tree so I’m always looking for new pear recipes! Unfortunatly they are finished for the year but I’ve got loads of jars of vanilla preserved pears – how well do you think it would work with preserved pears as oppose to fresh? Your photography is absolutley stunning.

    • Hello Claire, thank you for such lovely compliments! I am envious of your pear tree. As for the question of preserved pears – Hmmm, I don’t quite see any issue, except for sweetness. Of course the preserved pears will be sweeter, so perhaps cut down the icing sugar in the recipe by a third. Also, the pears are pretty soft to begin with, so take that into consideration as well. Leave them in bigger chunks, rather than slices, so they still have some texture to them and don’t turn to mush too much. Hope this helps :)

  31. The best strudel I ever had was a cheese one a few months ago in Austria. Your pear and chocolate one is a delightful sounding strudel. I can’t wait to make it with the last couple of pears from our orchard.

  32. Oh my goodness, that looks delicious! I’ve never seen pear strudel before. Thanks for sharing!

  33. This sounds delicious (and from your images, looks divine)! I shall be making…

  34. gliszerette

    yummm looks so delicious! love your photos too! i’m trying to improve my photography skills for my blog. any tips would be so so appreciated :)

    http://www.peachesandcoffee.com

  35. Absolutely beautiful photos! Looks delicious!

  36. Love this recipe. Your pictures are amazing, too!

  37. Amanda

    Hi I just had a question, not sure if I am reading this correctly but the ingredients list says 80gm of icing sugar and directions say 120gm. I really want to try this as my family love a pear hazelnut dark chocolate cake I make but this would be a lighter option. I tend to cut back a bit on sugar in recipes anyway to save on a few calories but was jus wondering which measurement to cut back on.
    But I love this blog, I just stumbled upon it and love your recipes and photos!

    • Hullo Amanda. Thank you for flagging that up! Yes it’s 80 gms of icing sugar all the way plus extra for dusting and I’ve amended the mistake in the recipe. Sorry about that, but thank you for commenting :) Hope you like the strudel!

  38. I cannot wait to make this. Looks delicious! Well done!

  39. ‘heathen’ – love it! My nana used to love apple strudels but she wasn’t overly fussy about them – she loved each & everyone that she encountered :) Stunning photos.

  40. Your presentation Is so beautiful that you are hungry or not you feel like to have it

  41. Your photos are so incredibly beautiful, I’m in awe of this blog. I love it!

  42. It looks delicious but I’m not so talented so I wouldn’t bake it so delicious.

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