Caramel Apple Strudel

Happy Friday! I don't know about you, but by the time Friday comes, I'm overly exhausted from the work week and although it's the weekend, I wish I could take a break and relax. This weekend I'm teaching a full day at the kitchen and hosting a very special event - the Chicago Food Swap. It's a fun and free event where folks gather to swap their various food items... all for free. Everything from jams, baked goods, dry spice mixes, prepared foods, sweets, savories, etc, all of it is fair game. So my Saturday is completely booked and I'm hoping that I can get a chance to relax and take it easy on Sunday. In fact, tonight I intend to cuddle up on the couch, wrap up in a comfy blanket and watch some movies or catch up on tv shows with the Baron. After all the recent date nights out and holiday gatherings, we're clearly due for a date night in. On that sweet note, I'm closing out the week with a dessert that is all sorts of delicious. This Caramel Apple Strudel wraps up a filling of apple, toasted walnuts, sugar and apple pie spice in layers of flaky, buttery phyllo dough just before baking to a golden brown. If that wasn't enough, a gentle dusting of powdered sugar and drizzle of sweet caramel is the best garnish for this treat, as is a nice big scoop of ice cream...

This was a great and elegant dessert... but the down side is that it's not gluten free. I have yet to find gluten free phyllo dough or even a gluten free alternative, that is without having to make a homemade phyllo dough myself with GF flour. If you have suggestions for a GF phyllo dough substitute, I'd love to hear it! Otherwise, my non-gluten free friends will enjoy this. It's easy to assemble and bake... and it would make for a lovely food gift for the holidays to stand out from the common holiday cookie plate!

Caramel Apple Strudel
recipe adapted from Cooking Light

4 ounces day-old French bread, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons butter, divided
5 cups finely chopped peeled Granny Smith apples (about 1 1/4 pounds)
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts, toasted
1 teaspoon apple pie spice
8 sheets frozen phyllo dough, thawed
Cooking spray
Powdered sugar for garnish
Caramel sauce for garnish

Preheat oven to 375°.
Place bread in a food processor, and pulse 10 times or until coarse crumbs measure 1 1/4 cups.
Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat; add breadcrumbs. Cook 4 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring frequently. Combine breadcrumbs, apples, sugar, walnuts, and apple pie spice in a medium bowl; toss to combine.
Lightly coat each of 4 phyllo sheets with cooking spray, placing one on top of the other. Spoon 3 cups apple mixture along 1 long edge of stacked phyllo, leaving a 2-inch border. 
Fold short edges of phyllo to cover 2 inches of apple mixture on each end. Starting at long edge with 2-inch border, roll up jellyroll fashion. (Do not roll tightly, or strudel may split.) Place strudel, seam side down, on a jellyroll pan coated with cooking spray. 
Repeat the procedure with remaining phyllo dough, cooking spray, and apple mixture.
Melt 2 tablespoons butter, and brush over strudels. Bake at 375° 25 minutes or until golden. Cool on a wire rack 20 minutes before serving.
To serve, dust with powdered sugar, drizzle with caramel sauce and serve with vanilla ice cream.

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