Surprise your sweetheart with these creamy chocolate and cherry- filled crispy treats. Black forest turnovers are the perfect complement for coffee or tea at breakfast or any time.
I’m spending a year in Cambodia as a Fulbright Scholar. It’s an amazing opportunity in so many ways. One of the difficult decisions we had to make as a family was how my daughter, Becky, would handle schooling. This is her senior year of high school so she had big decisions.
We looked into her going to a private school here, taking a gap year between her junior and senior years, finishing high school early or home schooling. Becky is an amazing young woman who’s challenged herself since middle school. She only needed one English credit to graduate so she opted to spend Fall semester here in Cambodia and go back to Texas to finish high school in the Spring.
There are no Cambodian schools where foreigners can register for one semester so Becky did some coursework online, applied to colleges, and tutored expat kids in math. It was so great to have one-on-one time with Becky at this stage of her life. We ate dinner together nearly every night (try to nail a teenager down for that) and had some amazing adventures in the Philippines and here in Cambodia before she went home.
We also did a lot of shopping together. This sounds glamorous but getting groceries and household supplies here is not nearly as simple as it is back home. There are some grocery stores but they are small by American standards (think corner market) and the merchandise changes from week to week. Each grocery store has its strengths. We go to Lucky Supermarket for meats and produce. Thai Huot has baking supplies and spices. You never really know where you’ll find paper goods.
On top of that many of the foods are imported from France, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, and other countries so you need to bring your cell phone to translate labels. Our apartment is located withing walking distance of two grocery stores so Becky and I would walk to the store and split the groceries to carry back.
Becky went back to Texas in January so she could finish high school. My 23-year-old son is taking care of my house (yes, I have my concerns) so he’s officially in charge while Becky is home. We talk on Facebook and Skype nearly every day but it’s hard to have a lengthy conversation with a 13 hour time difference.
Since it’s been extra quiet here, I’ve had more time to bake and there have been some great “finds” at the grocery stores. Lucky had imported cherries. Lovely, fresh cherries. They were outrageously expensive at first $14/pint but after a week, the price dropped to half so I splurged and bought some to freeze. Thai Huot had phyllo dough so I thought I’d make some turnovers.
With Valentines day upon us, what could be better than waking up to some Black Forest Turnovers for breakfast? If you’d rather sleep in, make these for an afternoon tea with your sweetheart. Layers of phyllo with butter and brown sugar in between gives these a lovely, flaky exterior and the filling is rich and chocolaty without being too sweet. Since Becky wasn’t here to help me eat them, I took my Black Forest Turnovers in to work where my colleagues raved about them.
Believe it or not, you get this flaky pastry with only three layers of phyllo. Phyllo can be intimidating to work with but there are some tricks that make it pretty easy.
The main thing is to not let the phyllo dry out while you’re working. Since phyllo sheets are very thin, they become very brittle when they’re dry and impossible to work with. To keep this from happening, keep most of the phyllo wrapped up while you work and have all your ingredients ready before you open the phyllo.
Lay a large sheet of parchment paper on the table and carefully unfold the phyllo onto the paper. Fold all but the bottom three sheets back up and stored it in the original wrapper while I worked. You have three layers left on your paper. Fold the top two together and set aside. (I folded them together). Brush the bottom layer with melted butter and sprinkle it with brown sugar/graham cracker mixture. Unfold the two remaining pieces of phyllo on top of the bottom layer and then fold the top piece back up while you brush with butter and sprinkle with brown sugar. Top with the third layer and cut into strips. Now it’s ready to fill.
If you want to save time with filling each turnover, you can combine the cherry and chocolate cream cheese fillings before you start working with the phyllo. I’m a little crazy about portion control so I kept them separate. They bake together in the end so mixing them is fine.
The other trick is to not overfill the turnovers. As tempting as it might be, if the turnovers are too full, the filling pops out of the corners.
Sadly, baked black forest turnovers will get soggy if you store them overnight. You can prepare them the night before and bake in the morning if you want them for breakfast. If you can’t eat them all at once, you can also “re-crisp” plain turnovers (no chocolate or cherry glaze on top) by putting them in a 350°F oven for 10 or 15 minutes.
Chocolate Cream Cheese Filling
- 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ¼ cup cocoa
- ¼ cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips (or chopped chocolate bar)
- 2 cups cherries, pitted
- 2 tablespoons corn starch
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon lemon curd (optional)
- ¼ cup graham cracker crumbs
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 package phyllo
- 1/3 cup melted butter
- Put cherries, cornstarch, and sugar in a small saucepan. Heat over medium heat until mixture starts to boil. Add lemon curd to taste. Cook, stirring, for about 20 minutes or until the liquid thickens. Let cool. Strain out the cherries to put inside the turnovers. Reserve most of the liquid to drizzle on top of turnovers.
- In another bowl, mix cream cheese, sugar, egg yolk, cocoa, and vanilla together.
- In a small bowl, mix graham cracker crumbs and brown sugar together.
- Put a sheet of parchment paper on your table. Lay one sheet of phyllo on the parchment paper (see Note below). Lightly brush with melted butter and sprinkle with the graham cracker crumb mixture. Repeat with a second phyllo sheet. Lay a third sheet on top and brush with melted butter. Cut the stack in thirds lengthwise.
- Put ½ tablespoon of cheese filling and ½ tablespoon of cherry filling in one corner of the first strip and fold over in triangles until you reach the end. Repeat with the other two strips.
- Place turnovers seam side down on a parchment-lined baking sheet and brush tops with melted butter. Bake at 375° F for 15 minutes or until golden brown.
- Cool on racks. Drizzle tops with reserved cherry juice and melted dark chocolate.
You can use canned cherry pie filling as a substitute for the cherry filling in the recipe. You can also mix the cherries into the cream cheese filling to save a little time.
You need to work quickly with phyllo or it becomes brittle. I unroll the entire package on the parchment paper and leave the bottom three sheets there. I carefully fold the rest back up and put it in its original plastic wrap to keep it from drying out. Then I fold up the top two sheets that I left on the table (in my stack of three) and set to the side while I work with the first sheet.
These turnovers are best served the day they are made. Left over turnovers can be re-crispped by baking them in a 375° F oven for 10 minutes. You can also cover unbaked turnovers and bake them later. You can even freeze the unbaked ones for later baking.
You can make mini-turnovers by cutting the sheets in fourths lengthwise and then half widthwise. Use only 1 teaspoon of each type of filling.