Last year I wrote a series of recipes I called "Thanksgiving Basics" in case you're far from home or hosting Thanksgiving for the first time and just want to keep it classic and simple. You can find them all here. This year I'll be doing things a little more travel inspired for our second annual big expat Thanksgiving (we'll be hosting around 25) but definitely keeping some of the classics in the mix.
Our first stop: Budapest for pastry or a New York Jewish bakery's cookie jar by the register.
Our T-Day Inspiration: Pumpkin Pie
I love pumpkin pie as it is, so I'm not saying you necessarily need to improve on it but pumpkin pie is one of my favorite things, and flaky rugelach miiiiight be my favorite cookie after chocolate chip and when you combine them together they make magic. This is a cookie for all the people out there like me who love the crust as much, or maybe even more, than the filling. Not too sweet, full of pumpkin and spice and as tender as can be, even if there's already a pumpkin pie on the table, no host will be mad if you show up with these as your Thanksgiving feast contribution.
For the Dough:
- 12 oz (3 sticks) Cold Butter, cubed
- 12 oz Cold Cream Cheese, cubed
- 12 oz All Purpose Flour
For the Filling:
- 1 cup Pumpkin Puree*
- 1 Egg
- 1/4 cup Brown Sugar
- 2/4 teaspoon Cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon Ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon Cloves
- Pinch of Nutmeg
- Pinch of Allspice
- Pinch of Salt
*For readers in Korea, or other expats: After discovering the canned pumpkin at the Foreign Food Mart had an expiration date of two years ago, I took a Korean green sweet pumpkin, cut it in half and scooped it, put it in a shallow baking pan with a bit of water, covered it with foil and put it in a 350 degree oven until it was tender and could be easily scooped away from the skin. Than I used my immersion blender to turn it into puree.
Confession: That bottom middle picture is actually from a batch of peach rugelach, don't tell.
- The real secret to rugelach dough is that it's two parts fat to one part flour, so it's pretty hard to overmix. The second secret is that your butter and your cream cheese should be cold. If your kitchen is warm, stick them back in the fridge for thirty minutes after you cube them. The third secret is, we can do this in the mixer or by hand, you choose (this is a rare instance where I choose mixer)
- Put flour and butter into a mixer bowl, paddle together until the butter is pea sized pieces. Add in the cream cheese. Mix until streaky. (see the photos in the first row if you're wondering just how streaky it should be for ideal flakiness)
- Dump the dough onto a large piece of plastic wrap and pat into a rectangle. Wrap tightly and refrigerate for at least one hour. Easy Peasy.
- In a small bowl, whisk together your sugar plus all your spices and salt for even distribution. In another bowl whisk together your pumpkin and egg until fully incorporated. Whisk the sugar into the pumpkin egg mixture. Refrigerate until you're ready to use.
Assembly and Baking:
- Flour a large work surface. Remove the dough and the filling from the refrigerator. Divide the dough into third. Roll out one third into a rectangle just a bit thinner than you would for pie dough. Trim off any uneven edges and putting the trimmings aside.
- Spread 1/3 of the pumpkin mixture in a thing layer over the dough, leaving an inch uncovered across the bottom edge (I like to use an offset spatula to do this).
- Gently roll up, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate seam side down.
- Repeat for the remaining two third of dough, incorporating the scraps from the dough before.
- Freeze for three hours before you're ready to bake
- Preheat an oven to 375. Line baking trays with parchment or silicon baking mats. Carefully cut one inch slices (I used a serrated knife) from the rolls and space evenly on the baking sheet, seam side down. Sprinkle with sugar
- Bake 35-45 minutes until golden brown. Cool on a rack. Serve when cool or once cool, keep in an airtight container for up to two days.