Pumpkin Rugelach with Sage and Walnuts
MUSIC PAIRING: Brett Dennen, Smoke and Mirrors
I live in the land of bagels and cream cheese. It is a magical land where, at any hour, said delicacy can be delivered right to your doorstep. Wanna throw in a latte? No problem! A muffin or two? Sure! The sky’s the limit. The best part of these bagel treats is that nearly all of the time, the amount of cream cheese used is ungodly. We’re talking inches here piled on, people. If I really think about it, I get completely grossed out because I’m probably eating what equates to a small tub of Philly cream cheese on one bagel. When that five seconds of moral battle with myself ends, I go back to my bagel eating in peace.
For me, cream cheese makes everything better. You can dollop some in your marinara, add a bit to pesto, eat it right out of the tub with pretzels (try strawberry cream cheese for that!)…I mean, there are endless ways that cream cheese can and should enhance your life. I go a particular form of bonkers when cream cheese is in the dough of a baked good. Holy mother of pearl. My first introduction to this came at an early age when Dad would bring home random things from the grocery store that were on sale. One day, it happened to be a tub of chocolate rugelach. These ones had walnuts in them and for me as a kid, any nuts at all in a baked good was unacceptable. I remember eyeing them suspiciously and then thinking but it’s a buttery looking dough and I love buttery dough AND there’s chocolate! so I tore one in half, scraped off the nuts and popped it in my mouth. At that time, I’d never tasted a dough like that. It wasn’t until I was older that I understood that cream cheese is the reason why. Granted, this is a Jewish recipe by origin and many rugelach dough recipes don’t contain dairy at all in order to comply with being kosher during a meat meal. I’m sorry for my Jewish friends.
Rugelach is one of those treats that gets you in trouble real quick. They’re small, unassuming little buggers but in reality, much like my delivered bagel, they contain a hefty amount of cream cheese and butter. I don’t think there’s a better match made in heaven. Unless, of course, you consider me and Johnny Depp together which is the only match that would be better than this one. The reason I love rugelach so much is that it’s not really sweet but it’s rich and delectable. I’ve already commented many times on this subject so by now, you should remember that I’m not a huge sweets lover.
When I read this recipe for pumpkin rugelach, I about fell out of my chair. Savory rugelach?! I was all over it. I’ve even grown up and come to love walnuts so this time around, they were invited to the party. I thought this recipe was dynamite and I wouldn’t change a thing. The filling is delicious and actually something I’ve contemplated making for ravioli at some point. The dough itself is exactly how you’d imagine a cream cheese and butter based dough to be. Drool. On top of it all, the way your house smells while they’re baking makes your
far too close in proximity to be allowed to live apartment neighbors think you’ve cooked an entire Thanksgiving feast.
Recipes like this just make me happy. I feel like I did something technically difficult while that isn’t the case at all. Really, I just want to be able to show off. Guess I’ll need to work on my crescent rolling skills first in that case, eh?
Why Brett Dennen? I feel one thing when I listen to Brett Dennen: happy. I feel vibrant and alive when his music is on and pulling off this rugelach with visions of cream cheese dancing in my head made me feel giddy and excited. I also can’t help but think of my friend, Jessica, who introduced me to him and that’s cause for happiness, too.
Recipe by: Arielleclementine on Food52
- 2 sticks unsalted butter
- 8 ounces cream cheese
- 2 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup fresh sage leaves, chopped finely
- 2 large shallots, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
- 1/4 teaspoon aleppo or chile flakes
- 1 cup pure pumpkin puree (or squash or sweet potato puree)
- 2 healthy pinches kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup walnuts, finely chopped
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon water
- Flaky sea salt or finely shredded parmesan, for sprinkling
- Prepare the dough. Cut the butter and cream cheese into tablespoon-sized pats and let soften for 10-15 minutes. Pulse the flour and salt in the food processor, and then add the semi-softened butter and cream cheese and pulse several times, until the mixture has formed large crumbly chunks (this can also be done very easily with a pastry knife, if you've got a sleeping baby and don't want to use the food processor). Gather the dough together into two large balls, flatten into disks and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for two hours or up to overnight.
- While the dough is chilling, prepare the filling. Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat until shimmery. Toss in the chopped shallots, sage, and aleppo and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the pumpkin puree and cook for 5 minutes more, to help evaporate some of the water in the pumpkin. Season with two healthy pinches of kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Remove from the heat to cool down (the filling should not be hot when you spread it on the dough).
- Preheat the oven to 350.
- When the dough has chilled, roll each disk into a 12" circle on a well-floured board. Make sure you flour the underside of the dough often, so that it doesn't stick. Spread half of the cooled pumpkin filling onto each disk, and then distribute half of the finely chopped walnuts over each disk. Using a bench scraper (or knife, or pizza cutter), cut the dough into 16 triangles. Roll up each triangle, starting from the base, to form a crescent, and place on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Beat the egg with a teaspoon of water and brush lightly onto the rugelach. Top each rugelach with flaky sea salt or finely grated parmesan (I prefer the sea salt, my husband prefers parmesan, so I make half of each kind).
- Bake for 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve warm, if possible.