Can you tell this week’s theme is Hungarian food? After the spectacular Hungarian Chicken Paprikash I just made, I felt the need for a dessert. I found this Hungarian Zserbo Szelet recipe and immediately put it on my list of possibilities. What sold me was reading the accompanying blog post. The author did a good bit of research to create an authentic Hungarian recipe. Not that I don’t like new interpretations (I do!) but I also appreciate the history behind traditional foods. I’m pretty sure I can’t pronounce zserbo szelet, but I’m going to make it. Let’s get to it!
I found this old-fashioned Zserbo Szelet Recipe in one of the vintage recipe binders I own. This traditional Hungarian holiday dessert recipe is also known as Gerbeaud cake.
Alright, let’s talk about the ingredients for this recipe. They were all basics, and I had most everything in my pantry and refrigerator. I love it when that happens! I even had most of a jar of apricot preserves, so I used that for the filling.
That left me a short grocery list, which is always a good thing. I had to buy milk, sour cream, walnuts, and chocolate chips. Nothing exotic or expensive, and all things my regular grocery store had in stock.
When I started making my zserbo szelet, I had it in my head that it would be a long and arduous recipe. I’m really pleased to tell you that this wasn’t the case! While it did take just over two hours, about 3/4 of that time was inactive. Here’s how it breaks down:
- 34 minutes to prep
- 1 hour to stand
- 35 minutes to bake
- 5 minutes for the chocolate topping
- 2 hours 14 minutes total (not including time to cool)
Making the zserbo szelet wasn’t too difficult, either. I liked how the steps were broken down to one action each—it made the recipe very easy to follow.
There are some special pieces of equipment you’ll need beyond the usual mixing bowls and measuring cups/spoons. A food processor and a rolling pin are a must, and you’ll need a flour sifter or a mesh sieve to sift—you guessed it—flour. Another must-have is a rectangular cake pan (the kind you would use for a sheet cake or brownies). The recipe calls it a sheet pan, but the accompanying photos show a deeper pan. I also used my dough blender, but it’s not a requirement—you can use your hands instead.
The toughest part of this recipe was rolling out the dough so I had three pieces the size of my cake pan. I was worried I would end up redoing this part until I got it right, then I came up with a way to make my life a little easier. I used the pan’s lid as a template when I rolled out the dough, cutting away any excess so I had nicely shaped rectangles. It worked a treat!
The last step was adding the chocolate chips, allowing them to melt, then spreading the melted chocolate like frosting. The recipe says it will take about eight minutes for the chocolate to melt, but mine melted much faster. It was fully melted and spread over the in just 5 minutes.
I left the completed zserbo szelet on the counter to cool for about an hour, then I refrigerated it overnight. I wanted to be certain it was completely cooled before cutting it. There was no doubt about that the next day. It was a bit of a workout getting the pieces cut as the zserbo szelet is quite dense. I managed 24 pieces an called it quits. I felt I had earned a taste after all that work, and I was not disappointed!