Monday, November 25, 2013

Jamaican Allspice, Cranberry & Pecan Apfelstrudel

Three for One
(to the dutch version) Unlike the name suggests, allspice is not a mix of several different spices. It's a spice in its own right. It got its name because the flavour resembles a blend of cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon. It is mildly peppery and pleasingly aromatic. Native to Middle America and the Caribbean, it is now produced wherever it will grow. 

Jamaican Allspice is just like any other allspice. Of all varieties however, it has the highest content of eugenol in the essential oil that determines the taste. Eugenol is also the flavouring element in cloves. So the Jamaican Allspice is quite 'clovey'.

Jamaican Jerk
Locally, the stuff is known under a wide variety of names; pimento or pimiento being the most wide spread. Freshly ground allspice is one of the essential spices to use in the celebrated Jamaican Jerk Seasoning. In Caribbean cuisine it is used in a variety of savoury dishes. The rest of the world for some reason prefers to use it mainly in desserts.

Bass Solo
Allspice can really transform a dish, when used in the right quantities. A couple of whole berries in your stew are enough to lift it to a completely new level. Be moderate is my device, although the recipe that I'm about to share with you shouldn't be considered as a lesson in moderation. In a lot of dishes allspice is the base tone around which all the other flavours curl and whirl and take their spotlight. This phyllo pastry is more like a bass solo...

Jamaican Allspice Cranberry & Pecan Apfelstrudel

2 big tart apples, diced into small cubes
± 16 sheets of frozen phyllo dough (or ± 8 big ones)
25 grams of dried cranberries
150 grams of finely chopped pecan nuts
150 grams dark brown sugar
50 gram light brown sugar (plain sugar is okay as well)
80 grams melted butter
1 teaspoon of Jamaican Allspice


Preheat your oven to 190° C / 375° F

Take the frozen phyllo sheets, wrap them in a moist kitchen towel and leave them to thaw gently.

In the meantime, peel, core and dice your apples. Sprinkle a little lemon juice over them to keep them from turning brown.

Chop the pecans together with the dark brown sugar and the Jamaican Allspice.

Gently melt your butter.

Assemble the strudel on a baking sheet. Take the thawing phyllo sheets and gently peel off 4 (or 2 big) sheets. Cover the remaining phyllo sheets with the moist towel. Lay out your first layer and brush it with the melted butter. Spread out ⅓ of the brown sugar-pecan mix evenly. Peel off the next batch of sheets to create another layer of phyllo. Brush it with the butter again and spread another third of the pecan mix evenly. Repeat this one more time for the third layer.

Brush the fourth and final layer with butter. Toss the apples with the light brown sugar and the cranberries and divide it over the phyllo.

Roll up the layers into a sausage.

Place in the middle of the oven and bake until golden. Depending on your oven that will take between 20 and 30 minutes. If you are baking with convection, make sure to rotate the strudel halfway through the bake.

Leave the strudel to cool on a wire rack to make sure the bottom will be crispy as well.

Generously powder the strudel with confectioners sugar.


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