In the world of packaged breakfast pastries, I have always maintained that toaster strudels > pop tarts. Give me flaky pastry and cream cheese icing over non-flaky pastry and royal icing any day, please and thank you!
My homemade version of toaster strudels feature all-butter rough puff pastry, a pleasantly tart fruity filling, and a colorful squiggle of cream cheese icing. If you want to serve these for breakfast I recommend making the pastry and jam the night before for best results — the pastry needs time to chillax (chill and relax), and you want your filling completely cold before assembling. Of course, if you wanted to serve these as dessert you could do this all in one day!
I filled my strudels with a thick rhubarb and berry jam, since that’s the fruit I had on hand. It was pleasantly tart, which contrasted excellently with the rich pastry and sweet icing. I also added a splash of elderflower liqueur for a fresh floral note — totally optional, but highly recommended if you have it on hand!
If you don’t have rhubarb and berries, you could sub in your favorite jamm-able fruits or even use some storebought preserves. If you’re using fresh fruit, cook down the filling enough so that it holds its shape, which will make assembly much easier. I’d love to try these with sour cherries and stone fruits later this summer! If you’re really looking to save time, you could also use store-bought puff pastry (for a standard box with 2 pieces, I’d cut each sheet into 6 rectangles). However, unless you spring for all-butter store bought puff pastry (which tends to be pricey), I highly recommend taking the time to make the rough puff — the taste is so much better!
Now, I will admit that pop tarts edge out toaster strudels in presentation — who can compete with colorful icing and sprinkles? So I stole a note from the pop tart playbook and added both for a little extra cheer to my pastries. My kids’ eyes practically popped out of their heads when they saw the pastries, and they were so excited to decorate their own. In other words: TOTALLY WORTH IT.
1 egg, whisked with 1 tsp milk or water and a pinch of salt, for egg wash
Extra granulated sugar, for sprinkling
For the icing:
60g cream cheese, at room temperature
60g icing sugar, sifted
Pinch of salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Gel food coloring (optional)
Make the filling: In a medium saucepan, combine the rhubarb, berries, sugar, lemon juice, and salt. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring and mashing the fruit frequently, until the mixture comes to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue cooking, still stirring frequently, until the mixture is very thick and the fruit has completely broken down, about 6-8 minutes. Remove from heat and add the elderflower liqueur, if using. Transfer to a heat-proof container. Cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate until completely cold, at least 1 hour.
Assemble, bake, and ice the strudels: On a well floured surface, roll the pastry into a long rectangle slightly larger than 9″ x 19.5″. The pastry should be between 1/8″ and 1/4″ thick. Trim the edges to neaten, then use a pastry wheel or sharp knife to cut the pastry lengthwise into 2 long rectangles (each about 4.5″ x 19.5″). Cut each rectangle into 6 equal pieces. You should end up with twelve 4.5″ x 3.25″ rectangles. Transfer the rectangles to a parchment-lined sheet pan and chill for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400F with a rack in the middle.
Once the pastry has chilled, brush the edges of 6 rectangles with egg wash. Divide the filling among the 6 rectangles, about a heaping tablespoon each. Use the back of a spoon to spread into an even layer, keeping the egg washed edges exposed. Top each rectangle with one of the remaining rectangles, pressing the edges firmly to seal. Trim the edges with a sharp knife to neaten, if needed. Use the tines of a fork to crimp the edges all around. Freeze the strudels until the pastry is firm, about 20-30 minutes.
When ready to bake, brush the strudels evenly with egg wash. Use a sharp paring knife to cut a small venting hole on the top of each one. Sprinkle the tops generously with granulated sugar. Stack the baking sheet on top of a second baking sheet to keep the bottoms from scorching during baking.
Bake the strudels for about 25-30 minutes, or until the pastry is deeply golden. Rotate the sheet halfway through baking for even browning. Transfer the sheet to a wire rack to cool for 10-15 minutes before icing.
When ready to ice, beat together the cream cheese, icing sugar, salt, and vanilla until smooth. Beat in a drop of food coloring, if desired. Transfer icing to a small piping bag and snip a small hole off the end. Pipe the icing onto the strudels and garnish with sprinkles, if desired. Let icing set for about 5 minutes before serving. Strudels are best served the day they’re baked.
This post is sponsored by Président® brand. As always, all opinions expressed are my own.
If you’re looking for a way to spread the love this upcoming Valentine’s Day, might I suggest you do it through crisp, buttery cookies? Homemade palmiers, to be precise. Traditionally, these French cookies (also known as elephant ears or French hearts) are made by dusting and rolling puff pastry in sugar, then baking until beautifully crisp and caramelized — a simple but addictive treat that goes down perfectly with an espresso or cup of tea. Today we’re jazzing palmiers up by adding some freeze-dried raspberries, which add not only a bright flavor but also the prettiest natural pink color!
Palmiers don’t require many ingredients, so it’s important to use the good stuff: namely, high quality butter. I used Président® unsalted butter, a rich European-style butter made from cultured cream. It’s a dream to work with as far as pastry-making is concerned: it rolls out easily and doesn’t crack or melt as easily as lower-fat butters tend to do. And of course, the taste is just next-level delicious — ultra-creamy with a slight tang from the cultured cream!
My version of palmiers start with rough puff pastry. If the thought of laminated pastry makes you want to run for the hills, fear not! Rough puff is classic puff pastry’s laid-back cousin. While there’s still rolling and folding and chilling involved, the process is quicker and a lot more laid-back compared to classic puff — and the result is still wonderfully flaky. Once you’ve got the technique down, you’ll be wanting to whip up batches of rough puff for hand pies, turnovers, galettes, and other delicious delights.
A few notes:
For best results, keep your pastry cool but pliable. It should be fairly easy to roll out, but not sticky or soft. Chilling times are approximate but can vary greatly from kitchen to kitchen. If you live in a warm climate or have hot hands, you may want to chill your flour before starting and/or chill longer between folds. And if your kitchen or fridge is exceptionally cool, you may need less chilling time.
Once you’ve added the raspberry sugar to the pastry, you’ll want to bake your palmiers as soon as the dough is chilled — don’t keep the pastry in the fridge too long, as the sugar will draw moisture from the dough and create a sticky mess. If you want to bake your palmiers later, you can store the uncut log in the freezer well-wrapped, and slice and bake directly from frozen. Frozen palmiers will likely need a few extra minutes to bake.
Keep a close eye on your palmiers as they bake, as they can quickly go from golden brown to scorched! You do want to get them as caramelized as possible for the best flavor and lasting crispness (underbaked palmiers tend to go soggy faster).
Update, February 2021: I used to recommend sprinkling raspberry sugar on both sides of the pastry (as seen in photos), but after making this a several times in multiple ovens have noticed that sometimes the freeze dried fruit on the outside can burn a little too easily. So now I prefer to sprinkle the raspberry sugar on just one side, and to coat the outside with plain granulated sugar. Be generous with the final dusting of raspberry sugar after baking, as that will really add an extra kick of fruity flavor!
Makes 20-24 cookies
For the rough puff pastry (makes enough for two batches of palmiers):
250g cold water (optional: replace 10g water with freshly squeezed lemon juice)
For the raspberry sugar:
50g granulated sugar
15g freeze-dried raspberries
50g granulated sugar
Make the rough puff pastry dough: To make the rough puff pastry, combine the flours, salt, and sugar in a large bowl.
Add the chilled butter to the flour mixture and use your fingers to flatten the cubes of butter. Toss with the flour so that all the butter pieces are coated.
Add the liquid and gently stir with a spatula just to combine. At this point the dough should be quite shaggy, but if you squeeze a bit in your hand it should hold together.
Cover and chill for 15-20 minutes, or until cool but not too stiff.
Laminate the pastry: Lightly flour a work surface and rolling pin and turn the chilled dough out. Roll the dough into a long rectangle about 8″ x 20″, roughly 1/4″ inch thick. The pastry will seem rather patchy and not quite cohesive — this is normal; it will come together with the folds. Try to keep your edges and corners as straight and square as possible, but don’t stress too much about it.
Using a bench scraper, fold the top third of the dough down and the bottom third of the dough up like a letter, brushing off excess flour as you fold. Rotate your dough 90 degrees so the opening is on the right. This is your first fold.
Repeat steps 5-6 for a total of 4 folds. Depending on the temperature of your kitchen, your pastry may stay cool enough for you to do two folds back to back. But if at any point your dough starts to feel warm or sticky/soft, transfer it to a sheet pan and refrigerate for 15-30 minutes or so to chill.
After the final fold, wrap the pastry well and chill for at least 45 minutes, or up to 2 days. (For longer storage, freeze well-wrapped dough for up to a month. Thaw overnight in the fridge before using.)
Make the raspberry sugar: While the dough is chilling, make the raspberry sugar. In the bowl of a food processor, grind the freeze-dried raspberries into a fine powder. Mix with the 50g granulated sugar.
Preheat the oven: While the dough is chilling, preheat the oven to 400F with a rack in the middle and line 2-3 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Shape the palmiers: When you’re ready to shape your palmiers, remove the chilled pastry and cut in half crosswise. Wrap and return one half to the fridge, or freeze for longer storage. (You’ll only need half the pastry for this recipe.)
On a lightly floured surface, roll the pastry into a rectangle about 10″ x 13″, between 1/8″ to 1/4″ thick. Rotate and flip the pastry and flour your surface as needed to avoid sticking. When you’ve reached the correct size/thickness, use a pastry wheel or a sharp knife to trim the edges to neaten.
Sprinkle an even layer of about half the raspberry-sugar mixture on one side of the dough. Use your rolling pin to gently press the sugar into the dough.
Fold the long edges of your pastry in so they meet exactly in the middle, then fold one half over the other half as if closing a book (you’ll have a total of 4 layers). Transfer the log to a sheet pan and chill for about 10-15 minutes to make cutting the palmiers easier.
Cut the chilled pastry into 1/2″ thick slices. Dip each side in plain granulated sugar before laying 2″ apart on the prepared sheet pans. (The palmiers will puff significantly in the oven, so be sure to leave plenty of space between each.) If the dough is soft at all, return to the fridge or freezer to firm up before baking (see notes above).
Bake the palmiers: Bake the palmiers one sheet at a time for 20-30 minutes. (Keep the remaining unbaked palmiers chilled.) Check the bottoms of the palmiers after 10 minutes; if they are brown and caramelized, flip them over for the remaining baking time. If not, keep checking every 1-2 minutes until they are. Bake until both sides are a rich golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Repeat with remaining cookies.
Dust the palmiers: Once the palmiers are cool enough to handle, dip each side into the remaining raspberry sugar. Palmiers are best served the day they’re baked, but will keep for about 3 days at room temperature in an airtight container.