As my sister and I got older, my dad picked up a new weekend excursion: a trip to the grocery store. Mind you, this trip was separate from the trip that my mom would make for lesser-exciting family or household needs; Dad was making a trip for the fun stuff. And sometimes, he’d bring a kid along with him. And on very special occasions, a stop was made at Baskin-Robbins for root beer floats. Grocery stores with ice cream parlors located next door are always the best ones.
Once a month or so, my dad’s hunting and gathering would result in the procurement of an Entenmann’s raspberry and cheese danish. Dear me; how I loved when that white box filled with cheesy goodness came home. It was near to impossible to eat just one slice.
Fast forward gobs of years to me working in my living room after The DIS Unplugged this past Tuesday. Some of the details for this year’s Taste of EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival had been released, and it had me rethinking this weekend's Saturday Snacks recipe. It had me thinking of all things Flower & Garden, and I decided that a shift needed to be made. I grabbed my copy of Disney Festivals Cookbook and went straight to the section that highlights some of the Flower & Garden’s most-loved recipes. And the stars came into alignment.
Today, we’ll be making Flower & Garden’s Warm Cheese Strudel with Mixed Berries. It’s the perfect treat for a winter’s weekend, and it pays homage to both the upcoming festival and my teenage self who gleefully gobbled down those slices of danish on the occasional Saturday morning.
We’re not new to the strudel game here at Saturday Snacks. Because we’ve tackled Biergarten’s Apple Strudel, I knew that any strudel that would come after would be easy peasy, relatively speaking. The Warm Cheese Strudel with Mixed Berries has been served at the Germany pavilion’s Bauernmarkt (Farmer’s Market) Outdoor Kitchen for several years, including at last year’s festival that, thanks to everything happening in the world, only lasted for two weeks. The in-park version is individually-portioned while the recipe that the Disney chefs gave us in the cookbook is for an entire strudel that can be cut into pieces and shared, if you so choose. Spoiler alert: the decision to share the strudel will be a tougher one once that incredible thing comes out of the oven. Best to make the decision to share before you get emotionally involved.
The necessary ingredients for the strudel sent me to the store. A variety of frozen berries is needed, and when I discovered that my Publix doesn’t sell individual bags of berries, except for strawberries, I went the mixed berries route and measured out quarter cups of the raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries. You’ll need two packages of cream cheese, and a box of puff pastry sheets. You’ll only need one sheet, but the box you’ll buy will likely contain two, which means you’ll need to make another strudel in the future. There are worse things. Yummm.
There are items that either need to be softened or thawed before they can be used in the recipe, so tending to those things will be the first thing we need to do. I left my two packages of cream cheese out on the counter so that they could soften up a bit. I also pulled out one of the puff pastry sheets and left it out on the counter to thaw. I personally like the whole “leave it out on the counter and forget it for awhile” approach to baking. Ahem. The puff pastry box said to let the sheet thaw for no longer than 40 minutes, so I set a timer to ensure I didn’t forget. For the apple strudel, we used phyllo dough instead of puff pastry, but I’m sure that the concern is the same: you don’t want the dough to dry out. Forty minutes it was.
I also took time to pick out the proper amount of berries and place them on a plate to thaw. Out of the three items, the berries took the longest to get to the point where they could be used, but it was okay since I wouldn’t need them until the strudel was constructed and in the oven.
I’m coming to learn that a strudel is one of those things that seems a lot more difficult to make than it really is. I mean, if you and I can follow a recipe step by step, we make just about anything, right? This EPCOT treat would be no different.
The first step is technically the second step according to the recipe, but I felt like it made more sense to tackle the cream cheese filling before getting the puff pastry prepped, so I did a little switcheroo. Into the bowl of my stand mixer went the two packages of softened cream cheese, an egg, and a 1/2 cup of sugar.
I turned on the mixer to medium speed and kept things going until the mixture looked creamy and fluffy.
When the puff pastry is just about ready to be used, go ahead and preheat the oven to 400 degrees and take a minute to line a baking sheet with parchment paper. I’d like to take a second here to espouse my great love for parchment paper. It’s another kitchen item that can do no wrong. It helps baked goods not to burn, and it keeps me from having to use elbow grease to scrub my baking pans. We see you, parchment paper. And we thank you.
Once the puff pastry can be unfolded, go ahead and do so on a floured surface. I opted to do so on my counter, but the recipe suggests using a cutting board. You do you.
The puff pastry needs to be gently rolled from about 9 inches by 10 inches to 10 inches by 14 inches. Grab your rolling pin or favorite drinking glass out of the cabinet (again, you do you), and so, so carefully roll the puff pastry out just a bit. It didn’t take long to get it where it needed to be, and, in the end, I needed it just a hair shorter, so I folded it back over itself by half an inch or so.
Now it’s time for the magic. Grab that bowl of sugary cream cheese and slather it onto the pastry, leaving an inch or so around the edges. The recipe calls for us make a 4-inch rectangle of the filling right down the middle of the puff pastry.
Once you’ve loaded all of the filling onto the puff pastry, very gently take one side of the dough and fold it in toward the middle. I know that this is the step in constructing a strudel that will strike fear into the hearts of the most able of home bakers; never fear. We’re in this together, and we’ve got this. Whisper sweet nothings at that puff pastry and fold it.
When the first half has been folded, brush a bit of water along the edge of the folded side so that the second side will stick when you fold it. The water will act as a glue and will help grab and seal the other side of the puff pastry.
Fold in the other side, and then fold, press and seal the ends.
Now comes the second step that could cause a bit of heartburn: ya gotta get the strudel seam side down onto the baking pan. If you’re using a cutting board, you can gently roll the strudel off of the board and onto your baking sheet. Since I constructed my strudel on my counter, I opted to use a long lasagna server that my grandmother gave me when I got married to help get under the strudel and transport it to the sheet. Be warned: the strudel is heavy and will want to sag in the middle if you let it.
Once it’s on the pan, give yourself a high five, and cut shallow slits into the strudel at 1-inch increments, sprinkle it with sugar, and place the whole thing into the oven. We’ll need to keep it in there for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.
While the strudel is baking, it’s the perfect time to turn our attention to the mixed berry compote. By the time I got to this step, my berries were finally thawed and ready to be used.
Grab a small saucepan out of the oven and toss in 1 cup of strawberries, and a quarter cup each of blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries. I opted to use freshly squeezed lime juice for the recipe, but if you’ve got one of those little plastic lime bottles in the fridge, you can always use that. Pour 1 teaspoon of lime juice into the saucepan with the berries and add 3 tablespoons of sugar as well.
Over medium heat, give the berries, sugar, and lime juice about 10 minutes to bubble away and get happy. From time to time, press the berries with the back of a spoon and stir things up. This is good stuff, my friends, and it’s gonna top off our strudel beautifully. After 10 minutes, the berry compote will thicken. Pull it off of the heat, but keep it warm.
After 20 minutes, my strudel was golden brown and looking delicious. I pulled it out of the oven and gave it the 5 minutes to cool that the recipe called for.
When the 5 minutes were up, I grabbed the lasagna server (maybe I should call it a strudel server now), and sliced myself a generous piece. I hadn't eaten lunch yet, so I wasn’t about to skimp on what I hoped would be an amazing, fresh from the oven treat.
I topped my generously-sized slice of warm cheese strudel with an equally generous spoonful (or two) of mixed berry compote.
This, friends, is weekend eating heaven. I am convinced that this may be a chart-topper when compared to other baked treats. It’s the quintessential complement to a chilly winter’s morning, and you’re going to want seconds. It’s the weekend. Have seconds.
The cheese filling is beyond rich and creamy, and, thanks to the 1/2 cup of sugar we used, it’s sweet, too. It’s so, so good. The berries lend a bright and sweet flavor, and send this creation over the top. The puff pastry is light and flaky. It's a marriage made in heaven.
This would be the perfect thing to serve for a holiday breakfast or a baby or bridal shower or the last Saturday of January.
When I make the strudel again, I’ll likely hold back about half a cup or so of filling. It was just a bit much, and tended to ooze out everywhere. I’m not complaining, but to get it a hair closer to my personal preferences, I might hold back just a bit next time.
My husband and I stood at the counter eating our slices of strudel. Sit at a table? Nope. We can't be bothered. You just stand there and savor every morsel of this amazing thing while it’s warm. Seize the strudel.
I know that a good chunk of the mid-Atlantic is set to get quite a bit of snow this week. Might I suggest this strudel for your snow day? It’d be perfect. Trust me. And, while the standard Entenmann’s variety will do, the Flower & Garden Festival's version leaves it in the dust.
I hope that your weekend is fantastic. May you invite a little Disney magic in and find yourself savoring something delicious. Thank you so much for reading and for sharing your time. I appreciate you greatly.
What treats are you baking up these days? What snacks would you suggest for our friends who are facing a bunch of snow this week?
Ready to make today’s festival-favorite strudel? The recipe is below:
- 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
- Flour, for dusting cutting board
- 2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling on top of pastry
Mixed Berry Compote
- 1 cup frozen strawberries, thawed
- 1/4 cup frozen blackberries, thawed
- 1/4 cup frozen raspberries, thawed
- 1/4 cup frozen blueberries, thawed
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon lime juice
For cheese strudel:
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a half-sheet pan with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.
- Unfold puff pastry on lightly floured cutting board. Gently roll into a 10x14-inch rectangle.
- In bowl of mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat cream cheese, egg, and sugar on medium speed until fluffy.
- Spoon cream cheese mixture lengthwise down the center of puff pastry dough into a 4-inch wide rectangle, leaving 1 inch on all sides.
- Fold one edge over filling. Brush with water and fold remaining edge over filling, overlapping puff pastry dough. Pinch ends to seal.
- Carefully transfer to prepared baking pan, placing seam side down. Make shallow slashes at 1-inch intervals across pastry. Sprinkle with sugar.
- Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool for at least 5 minutes.
For Mixed Berry Compote:
- Stir**** all ingredients together in a small saucepan.
- Cook over medium heat, occasionally mashing fruit with back of a spoon, for 10 minutes, or until thickened.
- Keep warm until ready to serve.
Cut warm strudel into 6 to 8 equal slices. Serve with warm berry compote.
Tester Hack: This pretty strudel is delicious with macerated strawberries. Just halve or quarter a pound of cleaned strawberries, mix with 2 tablespoons of sugar and let stand at room temperature at least 30 minutes. Serve for breakfast or dessert!