Happy August, dear friends! We’re beginning the month with an apple strudel/pie adventure like no other.
My adventure began when Viennese apple strudel happened to appear on my TV screen. Seeing apple strudel’s buttery and flaky pastry and its glorious apple filling up-close on a large screen can make anyone with a sweet tooth wish they could reach into the screen for a bite! Just as my strudel thoughts was about to disappear a few short days later, I heard the word ‘strudel’ by chance yet again. These were clearly signs from the Foodie Universe! As the Foodie Universe should never be ignored, I added ‘apple strudel’ to my shopping list.
I did find a strudel… well, sort of. Sitting at the sweet snacks section in the supermarket was apple strudel in the form of cookies! Hailing from The Netherlands, these cookies (from a Dutch brand named Merba) are called ‘apple pie cookies’, which is said to follow an apple strudel recipe. My guess is that the filling is a nod to apple strudel, while the cookie is inspired by apple pie. Will the pie/strudel and cookie realms collide in this epic dessert crossover? I had to seek the answer!
Geared with my metaphoric magnifying glass, I dived into the Dutch apple pie scene to discover more about this realm and its potential parallels to strudel. Perhaps some clues that point to the inspirations behind the cookies might appear along the way. Who knows where or what the strudel cookies would lead me to!
The Realm of Dutch Pies
Hailed as a must-try in The Netherlands, the first pie that stands out is appeltaart, which usually refers to apple pies with traditional lattice designs on top that are made with pastry. It is a deep-dish pie with a pastry crust, and a generous helping of an apple-laden filling sits inside. A notable mention is appeltaart from a café called Winkel 43 in Amsterdam, which popped up multiple times in my virtual pie-laden adventure. The café appears to be an Amsterdam culinary highlight for pie connoisseurs and café hoppers… it occu-pies a place in their hearts!
The next stop on my pie sleuthing radar is appelkruimeltaart, or simply known as ‘Dutch apple pies’, which refers to rustic crumble or streusel-topped pies with a crust base. Not to be confused with ‘strudel’, streusel is a sweet crumbly element that is added to some desserts. This style of apple pie is a great pick for fans of apple crumble, and it is especially enjoyed by American foodies in autumn.
Dutch Pie Fillings & Strudel Links
Looking closely, the two Dutch pies’ fillings share close similarities. After reading various recipes of both versions, I realized that besides apples, lemon juice, brown sugar and cinnamon are some of the key ingredients. Some bakers might choose to include nutmeg, cloves, and/or raisins. As far as the selection of apple types are concerned, it depends on the baker’s preference or the seasonal availability of particular apples.
Both pies’ fillings share common ingredients with strudel’s apple filling. As a result, the flavor profiles match one another. This made me wonder more about the cookies that were waiting in my snack stash to be chomped on. There’s only one way to find out how close the cookies are to actual strudel and pies!
Unwrapping the Cookies!
A tray of 12 neatly-stacked cookies was unveiled upon unwrapping the package. Much to my delight, these cookies pass the ‘expectations vs reality’ test with flying colors, because they do resemble the image on the package.
Admiring them from the side, these cookies have ‘cookie bar’ vibes from the 3 layers that are in a cookie-filling-cookie order. They echo strudel’s spirit too: from the rectangular shape, to little peeks of the strudel filling that depict a layered effect.
While arranging my cookie platter for tea, I was enjoying the cookies’ blissful aroma of notes that represent sugar, spice and everything nice. From the scent alone, the cookies would be wonderful for cooler or rainy days. With the arrival of intermittent summer showers here on the island, these cookies fit the vibes perfectly.
Cookie Taste Test
The moment I was waiting for had finally arrived: it was time to taste! From my very first bite, I realized that the cookies comprise of two main elements: the cookie itself and the apple filling.
The treat’s exterior is a crumbly golden-brown cookie that reminds me of streusel/crumble pie toppings rather than pastry. The cookie is firmer than traditional crumbles as it retains its shape until it is munched on, but it has a gentle crunch that streusels are known and loved for. Oat flour, which is listed as an ingredient, is included in the cookie’s batter. Oats is a core ingredient in many streusel recipes for its crumbly effect, hence, the cookie follows in the footsteps of oat streusel-topped pies. This lightly-sweet cookie is a lovely canvas that features the apple filling’s flavorful strokes, while complementing it texture-wise.
The filling is definitely the highlight of every strudel and pie. This cookie’s caramel-hued apple pie/strudel filling is no exception to that excitement. It is a strudel filling that has been re-imagined into a cookie filling, without losing strudel’s essence. Soft and sticky, the strudel part is chewy and a little gooey. It is almost like a jam, but thicker and denser. The filling is 25% of the cookie, and the filling-to-cookie ratio is pretty balanced in taste and texture.
On the surface, the filling is a combination of sweetness with a mild spice touch. As I munched thoughtfully, each flavor introduced themselves to my taste buds. Beginning with the literal headliner, the apples are included in the form of mini chewy apple pieces to modify the strudel concept into a cookie. Even though ‘apples’ is indicated as only 5%, its taste is present to my taste buds. It fits beautifully into the cookie as a whole. Raisins are included in the mix, hence adding another fruity tone that matches the apples from a strudel standpoint.
Cinnamon, which is the solo spice in the strudel, shines alongside the fruity elements. As my palate’s friendship with cinnamon is blossoming in nearly every cinnamon-filled experience, I enjoyed its presence. This cookie’s filling comes as close to regular strudel fillings as a strudel cookie can get!
To summarize my strudel cookie experience, it presents simple flavors that bring great pleasure to sweet tooths like me. I’m definitely impressed by its creativity! And to answer my question in the beginning – the strudel and cookie worlds did not collide, they came together to unite as one.