Amaretto Cherry Strudel with Homemade Vegan Puff Pastry

You guys.

This cherry strudel recipe is quite amazing, if I do say so myself.  Don't be intimidated by the "homemade vegan puff pastry" part.  It's pretty simple, I promise.

A few weeks ago, hubs and I were out and I got a slice of cherry strudel.  It was delicious - and I vowed to try to replicate it.  My friends, I've done you one better; this recipe surpasses my expectations.  It's so good!

I was scouring the Internet for a good crust recipe, but would you believe that almost EVERYONE uses frozen puff pastry?!  I didn't have puff pastry, nor did I want to use frozen.  There had to be another way.

And there is!

A great site to visit for staples is Vegan Dad.  He has recipes for vegan lunch meat, sausages, and everything homemade.  His puff pastry recipe is easy to follow - I only adapted it slightly.  This recipe is flakey, easy, and most importantly, delicious!  It looks fancy and would be the perfect addition to any breakfast or brunch (or dessert!).

Note: You can use fresh, canned, or frozen cherries.  I used a can of tart cherries (drained) I got from Aldi.  I was happy to find them because there was no added sugar and they were canned in water.  Yay!  Don't buy that gross, sugary filling from the store.  It's filled with corn syrup and other nasties.

Amaretto Cherry Strudel with Homemade Vegan Puff Pastry
Puff Pastry Recipe Lightly Adapted from Vegan Dad

Puff Pastry Ingredients
1 c. + 2 T. organic non-hydrogenated shortening, like Spectrum, cold
1 1/2 c. organic flour or cake flour
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 c. vodka, very cold

Filling Ingredients
1 1/2 c. cherries
1/4 c. amaretto
1/4 c. pure maple syrup
1-2 tsp. almond extract, optional
pinch of nutmeg

Directions - For the Pastry
Before you begin, make sure your vodka is in the freezer and you place your measured shortening in the fridge for 30 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine the flour and salt.  Using a pastry cutter, or your fingers, add in the shortening and work it into a meal.  Don't eliminate all of the chunks of shortening though.  When all of the shortening is worked in, add your cold vodka.  Work the dough again - it should resemble a traditional dough now.  If it's too soft, you can add a little more flour.

Between two pieces of parchment paper, roll out your dough.  Use a little flour to keep the paper from sticking too much.  Roll out the dough into a rectangular shape if you can.  When you're ready, fold the dough length-wise into a crepe or burrito shape.  After, fold it two more times, into a little square.  You should be able to still see some shortening spots.  Wrap it in plastic and chill the dough for 2 hours, at the very least.

Directions - For the Cherry Filling
Combine all of the filling ingredients in a large sauce pan over medium heat.  Stir and keep cooking until the liquids have thickened, about 15-20 minutes.  It's that easy!  When you're done, allow the mixture to cool.

Rolling Out the Dough
Preheat the oven to 400°. 

Take the chilled dough out of the fridge and roll it out, again between two pieces of floured parchment paper.  Again, try your best to keep it in a rectangular shape, though it doesn't have to be perfect (as you will see with my dough).  Remove the top piece of parchment and cut the dough into a "ladder" shape.  Take a look at the pictures below.  It's just a series of simple, symmetrical cuts.

Add your cherries to the center of the ladder and fold in one end.  Alternate folding each side in and, when you get to the end, fold the end before you do the last two criss-crosses.

I used the leaked out cherry juice as a glaze: brush the top of the strudel with the cherry filling that leaks out.  Lift the parchment paper and transfer it to a baking sheet - I wish I would've done this, which is why I'm telling you.  Bake the strudel for 35-40 minutes.

Your strudel should have a nice browned top and should smell heavenly!  Allow it to cool a bit before slicing, about 10-15 minutes.

Enjoy this flaky and tasty strudel, perhaps with a scoop of ice cream?!