Secret Recipe Club: Wine-poached and spiced pear strudel with pears layered in a phyllo crust with chocolate and rum-soaked dried cherries.
This might be my new(est) favorite dessert. Yes, I know I always say that. But I really mean it. It's perfect when you want something fairly quick that looks like you went to a LOT of trouble. And I'm thinking it's pretty healthy, as far as desserts go. The star of the show is the spiced pears, with a strong supporting cast from the chocolate shavings and rum-soaked dried cherries.
But first, yes, it's Secret Recipe Club sharing time again. For the uninitiated, we're a group of around 130 food bloggers, separated into four smaller blogging groups. Every month, we’re each assigned a blog in our group to look through. We try a few recipes and chose one to post about. But all month long, we keep our assignment a secret until ‘reveal day’. It’s been a lot of fun – and I’ve found some great new blogs to follow and new recipes to add to my rotation.
This month I was assigned Christie from A Kitchen Hoor blog. I was already familiar with her lovely blog from another blogging group we play in, #SundaySupper, and had a wonderful time going through her blog this month. Christie goes to the kitchen to unwind, and has a ton of healthy, low-fat recipes on her site. Her huge claim to fame (besides the recipe I chose to make) is that she was on Emeril Live! for her Elegant Sweet Potato Skins recipe. I had a hard time choosing between her Spinach and Mushroom Quiche with Spaghetti Squash Crust and the Wine-Poached Pears and Chocolate Strudel. I've been wanting to try a crust with spaghetti squash - it just sounds like such a great idea, but ultimately dessert won. I haven't worked a lot with Phyllo dough, but I'm determined now to use it a lot. It was much easier than I feared, MUCH easier, so don't let that stop you from making this killer dessert!!!
I made only a couple of changes: I used white wine instead of red, mostly because it's what I had open :-). I added some extra spices to the simmering pears, and I soaked the cherries in rum. Below are a series of photos of how it all came together:
Don't use pears that are super ripe, or they may fall apart when in the simmering poaching liquid. Slightly firm with the suggestion of softness around the stem end is perfect!
If you can't find the Ceylon or Vietnamese cinnamon, use regular cinnamon sticks
Barlett pears worked perfect in this dish.
Turbinato sugar is a very coarse sugar that gives a nice crunch to the strudel's filo crust.
Double the recipe. You'll need it, because trust me, you'll eat half of it before your guests ever see it. My husband just kept moaning, "This is so good."
Wine-Poached Pears and Chocolate Strudel (modified from A Kitchen Hoor)
- 2 cups pears peeled, cored and thinly sliced lengthwise (2 pears)
- 1 c white wine - I used a Sauvignon Blanc
- ½ inch piece Ceylon cinnamon
- ½ inch piece Vietnamese cinnamon
- 1 vanilla bean
- 10 cardamom pods lightly smashed
- ½ cup fruit sugar or fine sugar
- 10 dried cherries
- ¼ cup Rum
- 1 ½ oz dark chocolate chopped
- 10 sheets phyllo dough thawed
- 3 tablespoon unsalted butter melted
- 1 - 2 teaspoon turbinato sugar
- Combine pears, wine, spices, and sugar in a medium pot over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Lower the heat and continue a gentle simmer until the pears are softened, about 20 minutes. Remove the pears and discard everything else. Cool to room temperature.
- Soak the dried cherries in the rum for at least 20 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 375˚F for high altitude (350˚F at sea level). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Place one sheet of phyllo dough on the parchment paper Spray with cooking spray. Place a sheet of phyllo on top and lightly baste with butter. Continue layering the phyllo dough until all sheets have been used. Be sure to keep any sheets not being used covered with plastic or a towel.
- Layer the pears down the center of the phyllo, and sprinkle with chopped chocolate and rum-soaked cherries. Gently fold the dough over the filling, baste with butter, and turn over and place the roll seam side down on the baking sheet. Pinch or fold ends under on either end. Baste the top with butter and sprinkle with turbinato sugar.
- Bake for 15 - 20 minutes or until lightly browned.
- Remove from oven and cool for five minutes before serving.