Not Your Bubbie's Recipe: Pumpkin Rugelach with Sage and Walnut

Chow on 11.02.12
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 Photo: Kelly Rossiter

My husband came into the kitchen lured by the smell of baking and said "Oh wow, rugelach!" Then he bit into one and said, "This isn't rugelach." Rugelach are little crescent shaped pastries that are traditionally a sweet. The filling can be poppy seed, raisins or a fruit jam and I've even made them with chocolate. This recipe is savoury, using pumpkin, walnut and sage and doesn't taste like anything that came out of a Jewish grandmother's kitchen.

After the initial disappointment, I discovered my husband sneaking into the kitchen for more of the pumpkin rugelach, muttering under his breath about how good they were. I thought they were terrific. I used fresh pumpkin that I had roasted earlier in the week, but you can used canned, or substitute some butternut squash. There is a lot of butter and cream cheese in this recipe, so it really falls under the category of treat, rather than an everyday thing.

This recipe is from Food52.

Pumpkin Rugelach with Sage and Walnut

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

1. 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. Gather the dough together into two large balls, flatten into disks and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for two hours or up to overnight.

2. 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 and allow to cool completely.

3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 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. Bake for 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve warm, if possible.

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