Old School Middle Eastern Recipes with Some Modern Day Twists

Gerbeaud / Zserbo

Gerbeaud / Zserbo

Chocolate-covered, layered, and full of apricot jam and walnut filling, gerbeaud was the first Hungarian dessert I was introduced to. The bite-sized pieces trick you into eating many slices of this indulgent Christmas-time treat.

Edina (my boyfriend Soma’s mom) and their family always make gerbeaud around the holidays. Getting into the holiday spirit a bit early, Edina brought a full box of gerbeaud last November. Soma’s parents were in town to see him run his first marathon and brought this dessert as a pre and post run snack. Soma swears that this packed treat gave him the much needed energy to finish the race and get that extra boost to complete it in under 4 hours. This year, I wanted to make sure we showcase this famous dessert on the blog and asked Edina how to make them just in time for Christmas. I’m so excited to share the family’s recipe! There are many versions of this recipe, and it may vary from family to family (as do all of our traditional Middle Eastern recipes we share). We even did some of our own experimentation as we worked on the recipe together. This is the first recipe I have made with Edina, and it was wonderful learning about Hungarian baking. And of course also super helpful to learn some tricks from her as this isn’t the easiest of desserts.

I am not accustomed to the foundations of this dessert, such as layers and yeasted dough, but I would highly recommend fully reading through the recipe in order to understand the steps before beginning. In my first attempt of this recipe, it was important to closely follow the recipe and take my time. So, although this may seem daunting, it will turn our well if you take it step by step! Please trust me that it is well worth to make more than once!

In Edina’s words, this dessert will get better over time. This is something you can make ahead and put in an airtight container (not in the fridge). We usually make this the week leading up to Christmas and eat it throughout the holidays. Edina also mentioned that the amount of filling is based on preference. If you have a sweet tooth, you may want to add more apricot jam and walnut filling (and less if you would like a less indulgent version). Enjoy this gerbeaud and all the wonderful traditional treats this holiday season!

Gerbeaud / Zserbo

Prep Time 2 hrs
Cook Time 40 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine Hungarian
Servings 20 squares

Ingredients
  

Dough

  • 12 x 16 inch baking pan
  • 1 cup unsalted butter 250 g of butter total
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 3 3/4 cups flour 500 g
  • 2 tbsp sour cream
  • 1/4 cup milk 50 mL
  • 2 1/4 tsp instant active yeast 17 g
  • 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar 60 g
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 egg yolks (room temperature)

Filling

  • 300 grams ground walnuts
  • 2 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar 200 g
  • 450 grams apricot jam

Chocolate Glaze

  • 1 cup granulated sugar 200 g
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder 28 g cocoa powder total
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup water 66 mL
  • 4 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • pinch of salt

Instructions
 

Dough

  • Using either a pastry cutter or fork, combine the flour and butter in a large bowl until mixture has a cornmeal texture
  • Sift in confectioner's sugar and salt and mix until combined
  • Warm up milk, but do not make it too hot as you do not want to kill off the yeast. Add yeast to the milk and let sit for a few minutes
  • Warm up the sour cream, but like above not too warm. Add the sour cream and egg yolks to the milk and yeast mixture. Stir to combine
  • Add yeast mixture to flour mixture. Mix to combine and bring on a surface to knead until it becomes a ball. The mixture may not seem to combine at first but keep working the dough. As you are kneading try not to add too much flour as the dough will become very dry
  • Place the dough ball in a bowl covered with a damp towel and let the dough rest for about 30-40 minutes. Start to make the filling during this time

Filling

  • In a medium bowl, sift confectioner's sugar into the ground walnuts. Mix to combine
  • Split the apricot jam into 3 equal parts.
  • Separately, split the walnut filling into 3 equal parts

Prepare the layers

  • Heat oven to 360 F
  • Line the baking pan with parchment paper
  • Split the dough into 4 even pieces
  • Roll out the first layer of dough to be about 14 x 12 inches (just so it's a bit smaller than the baking sheet). I do not like using flour to roll out the dough in this recipe as it may make the dough dry. I recommend taking two pieces of parchment paper measured at about 14 x 12 inches. Then, place the dough in between the parchment paper to roll it out. If one side reaches the edge before the other as you are rolling, then continue to fold the dough to match the edges until the dough is rolled into your desired shape
  • Once the first layer is rolled out, place on to the parchment paper in the baking pan
  • Warm up the first third of the apricot jam, so it's easir to spread (about 20-30 seconds only). Do not warm up too much as you do not want it to become liquid. Spread the jam evenly on the first layer of dough
  • Add the 1/3 of walnut mixture on top of the apricot
  • Repeat the dough, apricot jam, walnut mixture layers above twice more
  • Roll out the fourth piece of dough and place on the top of all layers
  • Using a fork, prick holes evenly throughout the top layer.
  • Place into the oven for about 30-40 minutes and remove when the top becomes a golden brown
  • Let the gerbeaud completely cool

Make the Chocolate Ganache

  • In a medium sauce pan, combine sugar, cocoa powder, and water
  • Stir constantly over medium heat
  • Remove the mix off the stove once it starts to boil (do not overcook to avoid the sugar from caramelizing) and immediately add butter and pinch of salt. Stir until butter is melted into the chocolate
  • Pour the ganache over the top of the gerbeaud and spread evenly. Let it sit until sit the chocolate cools
  • Once chocolate cools, cut the gerbeaud first by trimming the sides then cutting into equal rectangular pieces. The size should be about 2-3 bites worth in each piece
  • This dessert gets better with age, so cover and leave out during the week to enjoy (do not put it in the fridge)



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