A yummy chocolate wake-up
Strudel. What comes to mind when you hear that word?
My thoughts immediately travel back to my grandma's apple strudel. She would mix up some dough and then place it on a large table that she had carefully covered with a clean white bed sheet. And then she worked her magic. She would form her hands into fists, and using her knuckles and the back of her hands as stretching tools, that dough would become as thin as tissue paper. She made many trips around the table, gently pulling the dough until it not only covered the table, but hung way over its edges.
The dough would get rolled up with apples and raisins, sugar and spice. What I remember most are the layers of flakiness that would crunch with each bite and then melt in my mouth with only soft, sweet apples lingering behind on my tongue. Oh, if only I had learned to make that wonderful apple strudel.
Now, there is another strudel in my life. Chocolate Banana Strudel.
As I paged through "Chocolate for Breakfast," by Barbara Passino, I knew as soon as I saw the recipe for Chocolate Banana Strudel that it would be the first one I would prepare. In my chocoholic world, I could make this my breakfast without a bit of trepidation. I love the flavor combination of chocolate and banana that I often add to a bowl of vanilla ice cream. Why not combine them for breakfast?
A short list of ingredients grabbed my attention. The strudel dough comes from a box. Filo, sometimes spelled phyllo, is found in the freezer case of grocery stores. Once it has been thawed in the refrigerator, it is quite easy to use.
Bananas that have been peeled and sliced in half are cooked in butter until they are golden brown. This process turns the bananas into soft and caramelized sweet lengths of fruit. The cooked bananas are rolled up into thin sheets of filo along with brown sugar and chocolate chips. After less than 15 minutes in the oven, the strudels are ready to eat. Let them cool a little (It's hard to wait). Chef Passino suggests serving the strudel with cognac-spiked caramel sauce. You can make your own. She includes a recipe in her book. Or, you can use your own favorite sauce, with or without the addition of cognac. Believe me, the strudels are easy to eat without a single bit of saucy adornment.
Passino is chef and owner of the Oak Knoll Inn located in Napa Valley, Calif. In "Chocolate for Breakfast," she shares more than 100 signature recipes that she cooks up for her bed-and-breakfast guests, some with chocolate some without, but all food that brings praises. She also offers menu ideas. She suggests serving Chocolate Banana Strudel with baked eggs and orange muffins.
I have another idea. Chocolate Banana Strudel prepared by big and little hands, fresh berries, a cup of hot coffee or tea, and a tiny vase of fresh flowers presented to mom for breakfast on Mother's Day. I know grandmas would like this, too. Even if they do remember the homemade apple strudel their own grandma used to make.
Chocolate Banana Strudel
2 tablespoons butter for the bananas
4 bananas, peeled and split lengthwise
8 sheets filo dough
1/4 cup melted butter for the filo
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a skillet over medium heat and gently add the bananas. When the bottom side of the banana is golden brown, turn it over and cook the other side.
Place a sheet of filo on your work surface. Brush it with melted butter and top with another sheet. Top that with butter and fold it in half. You should have a 4-layered piece measuring 6 inches x 8 inches.
Put two halves of grilled banana near the 6-inch edge. Sprinkle with a tablespoon of brown sugar and 2 tablespoons of chocolate chips. Roll the bananas in the filo, then tuck in the edges and continue rolling. Place the package seam side down on a greased cookie sheet. Continue with the other three. Brush all four packages with more melted butter.
Bake for 12 to 14 minutes until they turn golden brown.
From "Chocolate for Breakfast," by Barbara Passino. The Gerald & Marc Hoberman Collection. February 2009.
Tips from the cook
--I was glad I lined my baking sheet with parchment paper. Some of the sweet juices bubbled out of the strudels while baking. Parchment made cleanup so easy.
--I sprinkled each strudel with a little bit of granulated sugar as soon as they came out of the oven. Barbara Passino's recipe does not call for this, but I like the little bit of sparkle that the sugar adds.
--A one-pound box of filo will usually hold two 8-ounce packs. For this recipe, thaw just one pack. After preparing strudels, remaining thawed filo sheets can be stored, tightly sealed, in the refrigerator for up to four weeks.