CHERRY RICOTTA STRUDEL
Courtesy of Chef Dino Lubbat, Dinotto Ristorante, Chicago
2 pounds fresh ricotta cheese, drained overnight
1 3/4 cups sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon lemon peel, finely grated
2 teaspoons orange peel, finely grated
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs
2,12-ounce packages frozen dark sweet pitted cherries (about 3 cups), thawed, drained, juices reserved(or 2 1/2 pounds fresh cherries, pitted, drained, juice reserved*)
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons Cointreau (orange-flavored liqueur)or Cherry (maraschino) liqueur
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
18 sheets Athens Twin Pack Fillo Dough, thawed
Powdered sugar, for garnish
Line large strainer with double layer of cheesecloth; set over deep bowl. Place ricotta cheese in the strainer to drain excess liquid. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Squeeze out as much liquid as possible, discarding liquid.
Using an electric mixer, in a medium bowl, mix drained ricotta, sugar, butter, lemon peel, orange peel and vanilla. Mix about 4 minutes until smooth. Slowly add eggs, one at a time. Then, increase speed of mixer and beat about 4 minutes until light and foamy. Refrigerate to thicken.
In a medium bowl, mix drained cherries, 1 cup sugar, liqueur and lemon juice. Marinate for at least one hour. Drain the cherry mixture, reserving liquid. Spread out two cups of cherries on layers of paper towels to dry for filling; reserve remaining cup of cherries for sauce.
On a sheet of parchment or wax paper, stack 6 sheets of fillo on top of each other, lightly spraying each sheet with cooking spray. Starting with long side closest to you, about 2 inches from edge of dough, spoon thickened ricotta mixture lengthwise in a 3-inch-wide log, leaving a 3-inch plain border on short sides. Press drained cherries lightly into top of ricotta mixture, spacing evenly. Add a top layer of ricotta cheese mixture. Roll the fillo starting at long side closest to you, fold up dough over filling. Gradually roll up strudel, enclosing filling completely. Pinch ends to seal. Spray the outside of the strudel with cooking spray for a golden brown strudel.
Using the parchment paper, transfer strudel to baking sheet, seam side down. Repeat this process two more times to make three strudels. Cut several 1-inch long scores along top. Bake strudels in a preheated 375°F oven for about 30 minutes or until they are firm and golden brown (strudel may crack and juices may spill onto sheet). Run thin knife under strudel to loosen. Cool on sheet.
In a small saucepan, over low heat, bring reserved cherry liquid to boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Boil until slightly thickened, about 4 minutes. Stir in reserved cup of cherries. Cool sauce completely.
Cut strudel into serving portions. Pour Cherry Sauce over the strudel just before serving and garnish with powdered sugar.
•If using fresh cherries, purchase cherry juice and add to the drained juices to measure 1 1/2 cups total — the fresh cherries won't release as much juice as frozen ones.
•Instead of cooking spray, brush with 1/2 cup melted butter.
•Use butter-flavored cooking spray, if desired.
Yield: 3 Strudels
|GENERAL FILLO DOUGH HANDLING DIRECTIONS|
1. Allow fillo dough to thaw in refrigerator overnight. Bring to room temperature before using.
2. Carefully unroll fillo sheets onto a smooth, dry surface.
3. Cover fillo completely with plastic wrap, then a damp towel.
4. Keep fillo covered until needed. Do not leave uncovered for more than one minute to avoid drying out.
5. Microwave butter until melted. This will give you a lighter and flakier pastry.
6. Brush each layer of fillo with melted butter, margarine or oil.
7. To prevent edges from cracking, brush edges first and then work into center.
8. Be sure to brush the last layer of fillo with melted butter.
9. Fillings should be chilled and not excessively moist.
10. Fillo may be rolled and refrozen to store when not in use.