Once upon a time, in a funky coastal community called Ocean Beach, California, there was a little vegan bakery named Stephanie's (owned by a woman who isn't named Stephanie at all, oddly enough). Stephanie's had anything any local vegan could possibly want, and even the things that they probably didn't think they could ever have! There were large vegan pizzas, cinnamon and pecan rolls, and a wide assortment sweet and savory strudels, easily their most popular offering. On one end of the spectrum, there were apple strudels filled with a rich cinnamon-apple compote, and on the other, samosa-inspired strudels filled with curried potato and peas. Stephanie's Bakery closed its doors nearly a year ago, but everyone I know that had been there before still suffers from intense strudel cravings. Fortunately for me, Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, the author of The Joy of Vegan Baking (aka VegNews' 2007 Cookbook of the Year), has cracked the code and made available the recipe to my ALL-TIME ABSOLUTE FAVORITE Stephanie's Bakery strudel - the Black Forest strudel filled with layers of dark cherry, chocolate, and sweet cream cheese. This strudel is warm, flaky, sinful heaven. Make it now. Or save it for a rainy day. Or just link this recipe card to your boyfriend in an e-mail with a subject line that says "ATTN: ONLY 1 MONTH AWAY FROM V-DAY. FEEL FREE TO LEARN HOW TO BAKE." The choice is yours. -------------------------------------------------------- Stephanie's Black Forest Strudel 1/3 cup crushed graham crackers 1 cup cherries, rinsed and pitted 1/3 cup slivered or ground almonds 1/3 cup non-dairy semisweet chocolate chips 1/4 cup granulated sugar 6 - 8 sheets phyllo dough 1/4 cup non-hydrogenated, non-dairy butter, melted Powdered sugar, nutmeg, and cinnamon for sprinkling on top (optional) 1. Preheat the oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 2. In a bowl, mix the graham crackers, cherries, almonds, chocolate chips, and sugar. 3. Place one sheet of phyllo dough on a clean work surface. (It should be placed so that you're looking at it vertically.) Keep the remaining sheets of phyllo dough covered with a damp cloth. Brush the entire phyllo dough sheet with some melted butter. Lay down another phyllo dough sheet directly on top of the buttered sheet and brush again with some melted butter. Repeat until you use all 6 to 8 sheets. 4. Spread the cherry/chocolate filling in a 3-inch-wide band along the bottom edge of the dough, 2 inches in from the bottom and the sides. Roll the phyllo dough over once to begin creating a log, then fold in the sides. Continue to roll gently until you have a compact log, ending seam side down. Place the strudel seam side down on the prepared baking sheet, and brush with butter. Sprinkle the powdered sugar, nutmeg, and/or cinnamon on top. 5. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool before slicing with a serrated knife.