How do you know when its fall? Is it that the leaves changes colors, or that the air gets that nip to it that reminds you to start thinking about pulling your winter clothes out of storage?
In southern California, fall is certainly a season, but it’s more like “cooler summer”. The palm trees stay a vibrant green all year and if the temperature drops below 70 degrees after nine o’clock at night, we may consider grabbing a sweater – most likely the warmest piece of clothing we own.
So what is this season of fall to us really? To me, it means we can actually do certain things that otherwise are out of place the rest of the year. Drink hot drinks, put throw blankets on the couch – even if they really just are for show, and go apple picking.
Apple picking is the start of the colder weather season for me, even if it’s still 95 degrees outside. I am allowed to start thinking about the holidays and have permission to start decorating my house as though it was truly fall in my neck of the woods. I convinced my best friend and her family to join us and we headed up for the day.
Now as much as I might rather, I can’t plant an apple tree in my back yard and have at it every year to pick at my leisure. Apple trees actually hate the coast. They prefer more of a chill to the air than a tropical beach climate, so we have to go search them out. Luckily about 2 hours away there is a great spot up just in the foothills of the nearby mountains called Oak Glen. Every year about September I start planning and we head up the windy road to do our share of picking apples and eating apple pie. It’s a long but incredibly fulfilling day.
Depending on the time of the year we get to pick different types of apples, since they plant many different types. This year we had Rome Beauty’s and one of my favorites, Granny Smith. I was ecstatic! Both delicious cooking apples in their own right. So what should I make?
Shortly after our apple picking trip I had a lovely pile of apples sitting on my counter. Then thankfully, I was invited to my cousin’s annual Oktoberfest party and one of the options to bring was dessert to share. I can do that! What is more German than apple strudel?
Now I know for a fact that there is usually anywhere between twenty to forty people at this party and most of the time they move around in different areas while eating and don’t sit for long. So I clearly needed a strudel that didn’t require a mess in cutting or plating throughout the evening. Enter the mini strudels that are the perfect size to pop in your mouth in one bite.
I also love the crunch of nuts hidden in apple strudels that I’ve had in the past but I didn’t want to be super traditional. Mixing sliced almonds with sugar and honey would make a lovely topping crowning apples and puff pastry. Sounded like perfection.
Walking in the door at the party I had to swat hands away from nibbling a little prematurely. Once dessert was announced, there was no stopping them. The plate was half gone within seconds. Shortly after most of the guests left for the night, the remainder of the plate was polished off by my cousin, her husband, me and my man. Every…. Last….One….
Crispy, sweet, nutty morsels of deliciousness ended my evening and I wasn’t complaining one bit! I felt very German for one brief moment!
- 3 medium sized baking apples, diced to ¼ inch
- 2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
- 2 tablespoons flour
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons amaretto (optional)
- 1 package (17.3 ounce) of puff pastry
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup sliced almonds
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Toss all strudel ingredients except the puff pastry in a bowl, mixing well.
- Cut 1/3 of the puff pastry to separate it from the rest of the sheet. Roll out on a well-floured surface to 1/8 inch thick. Cut in thirds, then each square into quarters. You should get 12 mini squares.
- Put one teaspoon of apple filling in the middle of each square. Using a small bowl of water and dipping your finger, seal the opposing corners of each square creating a mini strudel. Place 1 inch apart on a sheet pan covered in parchment paper or a silpat.
- Mix all topping ingredients, except almonds, on the stove in a small sauce pan over medium heat until melted through. Remove from heat and stir in almonds until completely coated.
- Top each strudel with about ½ teaspoon of almond topping. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until light brown and bubbly. Let cool before serving.