Apple Strudel Cups for My Grandmother
Makes 24 cups
1/3 cup very finely chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons currants, or raisins cut in half
1 teaspoon rum
1-2 Granny Smith apples
¼ cup dried bread crumbs, or pulverized graham crackers or vanilla wafers
1 tablespoon plus one teaspoon sugar (divided use), plus a little extra for sprinkling
A pinch of ground cloves
A pinch of salt
1-2 tablespoons golden syrup, or honey, or a combination of the two
1 stick of butter, melted (divided use), plus 2 tablespoons butter for browning the apples
12 sheets phyllo dough
Equipment: 2 mini muffin tins each for making 12 muffins, or one large tin
If you’re using frozen phyllo dough, put the package in the fridge to thaw the night before you want to use it. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F before assembling the strudel cups.
Mix the currants or raisins and the rum in a small bowl and set aside. Peel one of the apples. Then cut off a small slice from the bottom so it sits upright on the counter. Cut vertically around the core of the apple, making four apple pieces. Cut each piece into ¼-inch slices, and then into ¼-inch cubes. You’ll want about 1-1/4 cups of apple cubes for the recipe. One apple may be enough, if not, use some of the second apple.
Melt the two tablespoons of butter in a large nonstick skillet and add the apple cubes, spreading them out into a single layer. Cook them for a couple of minutes on each side. When they begin to soften, sprinkle on 1 teaspoon of sugar and turn the heat up to high. Keep mixing and watch carefully – the moisture should cook almost all away, and the mixture should turn a little brown but not burn. Remove the apples from the skillet onto a plate and let them cool until just barely warm.
Mix the walnuts, bread crumbs, 1 tablespoon sugar, and the pinches of salt and cloves together. Stir in 2 tablespoons of melted butter, 1 tablespoon of the golden syrup, the currants with any remaining liquid rum from the little bowl, and the cooled apples. Mix gently but thoroughly. The filling should just stick together. If it doesn’t, stir in up to another tablespoon of golden syrup, and that should do it. Set the filling aside while you prepare the phyllo.
Place one sheet of phyllo dough on a rimmed baking sheet, and brush it gently but thoroughly with melted butter. Put another sheet on top of it, butter, and proceed until you have a stack of six buttered sheets. Using a sharp knife or a pizza cutter, cut the phyllo into 12 squares – 4 squares by 3 squares, each about 4 inches on a side. Gently fit each square into the cups of the muffin tins. Make another buttered stack of six sheets of phyllo. Then spoon a rounded tablespoon of the filling into each phyllo-lined cups and pack each one down gently. Add more filling if they look a little low, or if you have more and want to put it in.
Fold the phyllo edges down over the filling. Brush each cup with a little of the remaining melted butter, and sprinkle each one with a little sugar. Bake until the edges of the phyllo are lightly browned, about 20 to 25 minutes. Let them cool enough to handle, then remove from the tins.