I made these delicious pumpkin cheesecake bars last week. They were creamy and sweet, and a little nutty (as in, filled with nuts), and just hit that pumpkin spot we all have just about this time every year. I was going to write about my first encounter with a pumpkin flavored dessert. And how it evolved into this deep love for this wonderful squash. It was going to be lovely, that post. I was quite pleased with it.
And then I made this rugelach. This pecan pie rugelach. And, just like that, all bets were off.
I had to change course with my posting this week. Because these are just too good to keep from you. The rugelach pastry is flaky and buttery with just a hint of sweetness, resembling none other than a pie crust. Except it’s the best pie crust ever. Yep. And the filling is the best part of pecan pie – sweet and caramelized and sticky nuts, but not overly sweet. This was incredible and outdid many other holiday sweets I’ve made before.
And the bonus is that this rugelach is appropriate for two of the most delicious holidays coincidentally happening together next week: Thanksgiving and Hanukkah, affectionately known as Hanugiving! Or Thanksgivukkah! Just make these.
Pecan Pie Rugelach (adapted from BuzzFeed)
1 cup all purpose flour
¼ tsp. salt
1.5 tbsp. sugar
½ cup unsalted butter (1 stick), cut into cubes
½ cup cream cheese (4 oz.), cut into cubes
2 cups pecan halves
1/4 cup unsalted butter (1/2 stick), cut into cubes
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 tsp. sea salt
½ cup corn syrup
1 tsp. vanilla
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon water
turbinado sugar, optional, for sprinkling
For the dough: Let butter and cream cheese sit out at room temperature for 10 minutes, so that they are still cool but slightly soft. Beat together the cream cheese and butter until well combined and smooth. Combine flour, sugar and salt in a medium bowl. Pour into the cream cheese and butter mixture and beat until the dough is just combined. Be careful not to over mix. Use your hands to divide the dough into 2 equal pieces, shape into a smooth disk. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for at least 2 hours, or up to 1 day.
For the filling: Finely chop pecans and set aside. In a non-stick pan, melt butter over medium heat. The butter will melt and get all foamy. Keep heating until the butter has turned brown and smells nutty. Add brown sugar and salt and stir together until the brown sugar has melted. Turn the heat to low, and pour in the pecans. Stir the mixture until the pecans are toasted, about 7 minutes. Take off the heat and add corn syrup and vanilla. Let the mixture come to room temperature.
Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Unwrap one of chilled doughs. On a lightly floured surface, with a rolling pin, roll into a square, about 1/8 inch thick. The square will be about the size of a standard sheet of paper. Take half of the cooled pecan mixture and spread it evenly on the dough. Working from the long side of the square, carefully roll the dough into a spiral, like a cinnamon roll. With a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut the roll into 1 inch pieces. Place on baking sheet, about 1 inch apart from each other. Repeat with other disk of dough. Place in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, preferably 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Beat egg yolk with the tablespoon of water and set aside. Take cooled rugelach out of the refrigerator. Brush each rugelach with egg wash. Sprinkle with turbinado sugar, if using. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the tops are golden brown. The filling will have spilled out, but don’t worry! Let the rugelach cool on baking sheet for 15 minutes. Break off excess spill (that has turned into brittle, which you can enjoy!). Let cool completely on wire rack.