BEAUTIFUL AND EASY PUFF PASTRY STRIPS

by Jun 30, 2024

This is one of those recipes that is deceptively simple and easy to make, but looks like something from the Food TV channel. I have to admit that it is best to keep these hidden away until company arrives, otherwise dessert starts disappearing before the main dish is even out on the table. They should be refrigerated for awhile before serving, anyway, and that old phrase, “Out of sight, out of mind.” definitely helped keep these fruit strips safe from bacteria and larger sneak thieves (aka: husband Allen).

The original recipe came from the puff pastry box many, many years ago–before Pepperidge Farm even had a website. I have adapted it to make it easier (hence “faux” pastry cream). Sometimes, I make a full tart version, instead of these four separate, simple strips, but this version less messy to eat and doesn’t require a knife and fork.

Although I don’t show it here, I usually cut each of the four strips into 6-8 pieces, although Allen and son Karl always threatened to eat one whole strip without help from others.

I should mention that these don’t hold up well in humid weather. Although, no one ever complained, and the pastry strips still tasted good, there was a definite lack of crispness. That was bothersome for me, but no one else, I guess.

These are delicious any time of year, but are particularly apropos during the red, white and blue holidays like Memorial Day Fourth of July, and Labor Day. So many beautiful berries are readily available then, so it is easy to find toppings that aren’t overpriced. I have been also known to make these fruit strips in the winter, though, using canned pie filling. Of course, you can garnish this with freshly whipped cream, if desired, but it isn’t really necessary.

Be sure to get the pastry sheets rather than the shells or cups. One package of puff pastry sheets (2 sheets per 17.3 ounce box) makes four strips. I have also used the sheets to make two large square tarts for more formal events.

You do need to plan ahead and allow time for the pastry to thaw (about 30-40 minutes) before working with it. Otherwise, the pastry will not unfold without cracking and breaking. You also need to make sure that you don’t let the pastry thaw too much. Since the main ingredient is butter, it will melt if it gets too warm and then the pastry will not puff up and hold its shape.

I like to make the faux pastry cream while the puff pastry is thawing. This gives it time to set up correctly prior to spreading it all over the strips. Simply combine the instant pudding mix with milk and sour cream. Do NOT use sugar free instant pudding; I tried it once. Unfortunately, my Mom called the next day when she was going to eat her leftover piece, and asked why it had a weird oil slick sheen on the pastry cream! That has never happened with the regular instant pudding. The sour cream gives it a nice tang and makes it a bit less sweet. Allow it to thicken and chill in the refrigerator until ready to use.

When the pastry is soft enough to bend without cracking, sprinkle the counter lightly with flour. Unfold one piece of pastry and cut it in thirds along the fold lines. Use a pizza cutter or knife to cut a 1/2 inch strip from each side of the three pieces. brush the large piece with beaten egg and prick it all over with a fork. Place two of the 1/2 inch pieces along each edge of one of the larger rectangles; press down gently to adhere. Repeat with the other strips and rectangles. I like to brush additional egg wash on the side edge pieces and sprinkle with sugar and/or finely chopped nuts.

Now, it is important to chill these again prior to baking. Even in the winter, my kitchen sometimes gets too warm and puff pastry just can’t handle the heat generated from preheating my oven. When the oven is up to a high temperature (400 degrees), bake the prepared pastry for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, and prick the pastry middle all over again to keep it from puffing up and rising unevenly. Return the sheets to the oven and continue baking until golden brown all over. Remove the pastry from the pans and allow them to cool completely on wire racks.

Next, I rinse, clean, and cut up whatever berries and fruit I am using. Dollop the pastry cream in the middle of each pastry, then spread it out evenly. Be sure to rinse and thoroughly dry the fruit before arranging it over the pastry cream.  Then I like to melt a little jelly to brush over top of the fruit to add additional sheen and eye appeal.  The flavor doesn’t matter because the light coating doesn’t affect it much.  Just look for a color that will complement the fruit color. Apple jelly is my favorite because the color works well with all berries and even kiwi.  Brush it over top of the fruit.

At this point, you can chill the pastry cream and hold the pastry, (lightly covered, but unrefrigerated), separately overnight. Once assembled, the dessert should be served within 4-6 hours, otherwise the pastry will soften too much. Garnish the pastry with the optional whipped cream, or serve it separately with the dessert.

PUFF PASTRY FRUIT STRIPS

1 (17.3 ounces) package Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Sheets, thawed
1 Egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water or 2 tablespoons egg substitute
3 ounces Instant Vanilla Pudding Mix, (1 small package); NOT sugar-free
1 Cup Milk
1/2 Cup Lowfat Sour Cream
2 tablespoons Coarse Sugar Or Finely Chopped Nuts
2-3 Cups Fresh Fruits Such as Strawberries,Raspberries, Kiwi, Banana, Blueberries (amount depends on slicing, leaving Berries whole, size of fruit)
2 Tablespoons jelly (apple, strawberry or orange marmalade). Freshly whipped cream, optional

Thaw puff pastry 30-40 minutes or until soft enough to unfold. Open one sheet up and cut along fold lines into thirds. Cut one-third into 4 thin strips. (I use a pizza cutter to cut it easily and neatly.) Beat egg with water in small bowl. Brush egg wash all over each rectangle and gently press one thin strip onto each long edge. Place each piece on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or lightly sprayed with cooking oil spray. Prick center section of each piece with a fork all over. Repeat with second sheet of puff pastry. Brush thin edges also with egg wash, and sprinkle with coarse sugar or nuts, if desired.

I always refrigerate the pastry for about 15-30 minutes to make sure that it is completely chilled, then I preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Bake pastries for 10 minutes; remove from oven and prick with fork in center section again; continue baking 8 – 10 minutes more or until golden. Cool completely on wire racks.

Meanwhile, make faux pastry cream by combining pudding mix, milk and sour cream in mixer bowl or blender. Mix or blend until thickened. Cover and chill while washing and cutting up desired fruit.

To assemble: Spread pastry cream down center of each pastry. Arrange fruit decoratively over top. Brush with melted strawberry jelly or sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar.

Variations: Melt about 1 cup chocolate chips in microwave (cook for 30 seconds, stir, then continue cooking at 10 second intervals until completely melted). Brush over middle of cooled pastry strips. Layer pastry cream, fresh raspberries. For a Patriotic Look, use white chocolate pudding mix with red and blue berries. Use cheesecake pudding mix with strawberries and kiwi. In the winter, I have even used vanilla or cheesecake pudding mix with canned pie filling on top.

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2 Comments

  1. Jovina

    Oh yum. What a delicious dessert.

    Reply
    • akcooker

      Thank you, Jovina!

      Reply

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