Pumpkin used to be one of those things I could take or leave. It’s always been just kind of meh for me.
But somehow living in the land of perpetual sunshine has made me crave seasons—and seasonal flavors—like never before. I’ve been eyeing my Uggs longingly, waiting for boot and sweater weather and eagerly anticipating carving pumpkins for the first time since I was 10.
I’ve also been stirring pumpkin puree into my oatmeal every morning since late July. (I definitely recommend this. It’s OMG so delicious with a sprinkle of cinnamon and a healthy dose of butter.) So while I make some pumpkin bread variant every year I’ve never put much thought into other pumpkin-y baked goods.
Until last Saturday.
When I made pumpkin spice rugelach.
And changed my life forever. Not only did Saturday mark the first time I successfully made a batch of rugelach (meaning my dough didn’t melt all over the counter before I could roll my cookies), but I also made a pumpkin spice dessert that I was super-excited—totally not meh—about. And bonus: my kitchen smelled incredible and Thanksgiving-y all weekend.
Have you ever made rugelach? If not, let me explain briefly. They’re classified as cookies but they’re really kind of like little pastries. You make a buttery dough, then roll it out, then spread a thin layer of filling over it, then slice and roll into crescents. Then bake and eat and eat and eat.
The dough can be very sticky, and because it’s so full of butter, tends to be a little more difficult to work with. But it’s completely worth your effort. Just be sure that your kitchen isn’t boiling hot, and only work with one portion of dough at a time so the remaining dough stays cool in the fridge. And use lots of powdered sugar to keep the dough from sticking to your workspace. AND—when you’re rolling the dough out be sure you lift it off the counter and rotate it. That will also keep it from sticking/melting onto the counter.
And now I have to say it: how is it time for pumpkin spice already? How? Christmas is practically next week; I’m going to need lots more pumpkin desserts to console myself.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 8 ounces cold cream cheese, cut into cubes
- 1 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 egg yolk
- powdered sugar, for dusting
- 1 tablespoon cream cheese
- 1/3 cup pumpkin puree
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Combine flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse several times. Sprinkle the cream cheese and butter over the flour and pulse 10 to 12 times, until coarse crumbs form. Whisk egg yolk and vanilla together in a small bowl and add to the flour mixture. Process until dough clumps together into large pieces.
- Turn dough out onto the counter and press into a ball. Divide into 4 equal pieces, flattening each piece into a 1-inch-thick disk. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or up to 3 days.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
- Soften cream cheese in the microwave for about 15 seconds. Add pumpkin puree, spices, and salt. Stir until well mixed and you don’t see any streaks of cream cheese.
- Sprinkle a work surface generously with powdered sugar. Remove one disk of dough from the fridge and allow to warm for about 1 minute on the counter. Sprinkle dough and rolling pin with additional powdered sugar and roll dough to 1/8-inch thickness. Spread one quarter of the filling over the dough, going all the way to the edges. Using a pizza cutter or a long knife, cut the dough into 16 wedges. Starting from the outer edge of each wedge, roll the cookies up. Place one inch apart onto prepared baking sheets. (Be sure the tip of each cookie is tucked underneath.) Place baking sheets in the freezer for 20 minutes before baking.
- Repeat with remaining dough and filling.
- Bake until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an air-tight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.