Spago's Apple Strudel Turnovers


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This complicated desserts are unbelievably flaky and melt in your mouth. Worth every bit of trouble.

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  • 2 1/4 lb. Braeburn or Fuji apples (about 6 medium), peeled, cored, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1/3 C. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 C. sugar
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. ground white pepper
  • 1 1/4 C. (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1/3 C. water
  • 2 Tbs. packed golden brown sugar
  • 2 Tbs. mild-flavored light molasses
  • 28 13x9-inch fresh phyllo pastry sheets or frozen, thawed (about 3/4 lb.)
  • 1 1/4 C. lightly toasted fresh breadcrumbs
  • Vanilla ice cream

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Mix apple cubes and lemon juice in medium bowl. Mix 1 C. sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and white pepper in small bowl to blend. Melt 1/4 C. butter in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat and stir constantly until butter browns, about 3 minutes. Add 1/3 C. water, then sugar mixture and cook until syrup turns deep amber color, stirring constantly, about 4 minutes. Mix in brown sugar and stir until dissolved. Add apple cubes with lemon juice; cook until juices are thick and spoon leaves path when drawn across bottom of pan, about 13 minutes. Add molasses and stir to blend. Divide apple mixture equally between two 14-cube ice-cube trays. Freeze until frozen, at least 4 hours. (Frozen apple cubes can be prepared 1 month ahead. Cover; keep frozen.)

Melt remaining 1 C. butter in heavy small saucepan over medium-low heat. Stack 14 phyllo sheets on work surface. Trim phyllo stack to form 13x8-inch rectangle. Cut stack in half lengthwise, forming two 13x4-inch stacks; place on top of each other. Cover with plastic wrap, then damp kitchen towel. Repeat with remaining 14 phyllo sheets, forming second stack. Place 1 phyllo strip on work surface. Brush lightly with melted butter. Sprinkle with 1 tsp. breadcrumbs. Top with second phyllo strip. Brush lightly with melted butter; sprinkle with 1 tsp. breadcrumbs.

Remove 1 frozen apple cube from ice-cube tray; return remaining cubes to freezer. Place frozen apple cube on lower short end of prepared phyllo strip. Turn bottom right corner of strip over apple cube so that bottom edge lines up with left side. Continue folding up phyllo, flag-style, creating triangle and enclosing apple cube. Brush triangle with melted butter; place on rimmed baking sheet and transfer to freezer. Repeat with remaining pastry strips and apple cubes. (Turnovers can be made 2 weeks ahead. Cover; keep frozen.)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake strudel turnovers on rimmed baking sheets until golden brown, about 13 minutes. Serve strudel turnovers warm with vanilla ice cream.

Note: The pastry chefs at Spago make fresh strudel dough, but we call for packaged phyllo here. For the breadcrumbs, finely grind crustless white sandwich bread in a processor, then toast the crumbs in a 350 degrees oven until dry, about 10 minutes. You'll need two 14-cube ice-cube trays for the filling.

Yield: 8-10 servings

From: Chef Sherry Yard, Spago, Beverly Hills, CA

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