Some of you may already know this, but this semester in addition to posting on Kinsey Cooks I’ll be contributing to the Tufts food blog, Tasty Tufts. It’s a great website full of Boston and Somerville restaurant reviews, recipes, and thoughts on eating in college. My first post (which you can find by clicking here) is the recipe for my favorite pumpkin bread, and more posts will be coming from me this semester. Anytime I have a post on Tasty Tufts, I’ll post the link here on Kinsey Cooks so that you can stay up to date with the Tufts food scene.
Welcome back to Cookie Monday! Enjoy this week’s installment:
This coming Thursday is a very important day. Not only is it Thanksgiving, it is also the first night of Hanukkah, causing many to refer to it as Thanksgivukkah. Due to the differing patterns of the Gregorian and Jewish calendars, this combination of holidays will not happen for another 80,000 years, so it’s up to all of us to make the most of this special night.
Now, I’m not Jewish, but I have been to enough Hanukkah celebrations to know that Hanukkah food is both incredibly delicious and is very compatible with Thanksgiving flavors. The crescent shaped, rolled cookies known as Rugelach are often filled with spices and walnuts. With the addition of a homemade pumpkin and maple butter, Rugelach are excellent accompaniments to your dessert table, even if you are not celebrating the festival of the lights in addition to Thanksgiving.
These Rugelach are golden brown and flaky, with an irresistible coating of cinnamon-sugar. Rolling out the dough is much easier than rolling out a pie crust, thanks to the cream cheese along with the butter. They do take some time to assemble, but it’s a perfect family activity for the night before the big feast. Between the nutmeg, maple syrup, cinnamon, and toasted walnuts, your kitchen will smell incredible and it will be hard to eat just one of these scrumptious cookies.
Wherever you are this Thursday, and whatever combination of holidays you may be celebrating, I wish you a very happy Thanksgiving, from my kitchen to yours. Here’s to the start of a great holiday season!
Dough adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook
Makes 48 rugelach
8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
½ teaspoon table salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup walnuts
1 cup pumpkin puree
¼ cup maple syrup
½ teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon cinnamon
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon water
- For the dough: In the bowl of a standing mixer, combine the cream cheese and butter and beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the table salt and flour and mix on low speed until the flour is just incorporated. Gather the dough into a ball and wrap it in plastic wrap, then let chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours in order to firm up.
- While the dough chills, prepare the filling: In a small skillet over medium heat, toast the walnuts for 5-6 minutes, until fragrant. Transfer to a bowl to cool, then finely chop and set aside. Wipe out the skillet, and add the pumpkin, maple syrup, and nutmeg, and cook on medium-low until thickened and fragrant, 12-15 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside. In another small bowl, combine the cinnamon and sugar. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolk and the water until smooth.
- Now, set up your work station: Line three baking sheets with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 350F. In terms of tools, you will need a bench scraper, rolling pin, pastry wheel or knife, pastry brush, and a spatula (an offset one is best).
- Once the dough has chilled, set it onto a lightly floured work surface and divide into three equal pieces. Place two back into the fridge and roll one of them out into a circle 12 inches in diameter. Evenly spread 1/3 of the pumpkin mixture all over the dough, the sprinkle two heaping tablespoons of the cinnamon-sugar on top of the pumpkin. Distribute 1/3 of the walnuts on top of the cinnamon-sugar and press gently on them to let them stick to the filling. Using a pastry wheel or knife, cut the circle into 16 equal wedges. Take each individual wedge of dough and roll it into a crescent, from the widest part to the point. Transfer the Rugelach, pointy tip face down, to the baking sheets, and brush with the egg wash, then sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown, then transfer to cooling racks to cool completely. While the first batch bakes, you can prepare the other two dough rounds. The Rugelach will keep for 2 days at room temperature in an airtight container, but they are best within 6-8 hours of baking.
Welcome back to Cookie Monday! Enjoy this week’s installment:
This recipe combines three things that I love (pumpkin, breakfast, and cookies), into one delicious treat. Cookies are always good no matter the hour, but having a wholesome cookie that goes well with a cup of tea in the morning is a sure way to start off a great day.
With whole wheat flour, oats, spices, maple syrup, and pumpkin, these hearty cookies are more nutritious than most so-called energy bars and have much less refined sugar than the scores of “chewy” bars that line grocery store shelves. The secret ingredient that gives them a moist, cakey texture is a can of white beans. It sounds pretty, well, disgusting, but navy beans are almost 80% carbohydrates, with a little bit of protein, so they add structure to these vegan cookies. I’ve made these cookies twice now, and I can confidently say that you cannot taste the beans one bit. A final coating of flaxseed and coarse sugar gives the cookies an attractive exterior and a sweet, nutty finish. Serve them for breakfast with a hot cup of tea, or sandwich Greek yogurt between two cookies for a fun twist on an ice cream sandwich. You’ll have a delicious treat that’s perfect for the days leading up to Thanksgiving; they’re just sweet enough to satisfy your sweet tooth while waiting for the onslaught of pies and desserts in less than two weeks.
Pumpkin Breakfast Cookies
Makes 16-20 cookies
Adapted from Oh She Glows
1 tablespoon ground flax
¼ cup water
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
¾ teaspoon dried ginger
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon table salt
1, 15 oz. can white beans, drained and rinsed
¼ cup vegetable oil
¼ cup maple syrup
1/3 cup pumpkin
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup ground flax
1/3 cup coarse sugar (demarra or turbinado)
- Preheat the oven to 350F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. In a small bowl combine the ground flax and the water.
- In the bowl of a food processor, process the oats until a coarse flour forms, about 1 minute. Transfer the oats to a medium bowl and add the flour, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk to combine.
- In the now empty food processor, combine the beans, vegetable oil, and maple syrup, and process for 1 minute, until smooth. Add the pumpkin, flax and water mixture, and sugar, and process until very smooth, 1-2 minutes. Transfer the wet ingredients to the bowl with the dry ingredients, and fold together to combine.
- In a shallow bowl, combine the ground flax and coarse sugar. Take 2 heaping tablespoons of the dough and roll it into a ball (the dough will be sticky, handle it with wet hands or spoons), the gently roll the dough in the flax mixture. Place the cookies 1 ½ inches apart on the baking sheets, then bake for 18-20 minutes, until the center springs back when lightly tapped. Transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool. Store the cookies in the refrigerator.
It’s finally October, which means that I can bake and cook fall recipes to my heart’s content. First on my list is anything pumpkin related. I always make dozens of pumpkin muffins and many loaves of pumpkin bread, and I wanted to try something new. After a little brainstorming, I came up with the idea for a pumpkin gingerbread, full of spicy ginger and molasses, to pair with a rich Dulce de leche frosting.
The pumpkin complements the traditional gingerbread spices of ginger, cinnamon, and pepper, while contributing to a tender texture. Gingerbread is traditionally a very delicate cake, so in order to provide lift and structure, a lot of chemistry must be utilized in this recipe—among other things, this makes me appreciate my Honors Chemistry class. This cake involves a lot of acidic ingredients—pumpkin, molasses, and brown sugar—which can prevent a cake from rising properly. To avoid this, I neutralized the acidic ingredients with a base, baking soda, early on in the recipe rather than using the typical method of adding the baking soda with the dry ingredients. For a foolproof way to avoid a sunken gingerbread, there must be a significant amount of gluten development to provide structural support to the cake. A simple way to do this is to vigorously beat the cake batter, which sounds counterintuitive to a seasoned baker, but actually works wonders when baking a tall layer cake that must hold its own against buttercream and car transport.
A simple Swiss buttercream full of a deeply caramelized Dulce de leche makes this layer cake the perfect accompaniment to a fall birthday or special event. It was thoroughly enjoyed as a dessert for our homecoming dance dinner. After all, what more do you need once you have dinner, friends, cake, and a dance?
Pumpkin Gingerbread Cake with Dulce de Leche Frosting
Makes 1, 9 inch layer cake, serving 16-20
1, 15 oz. can pumpkin puree
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons dried ginger
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon pepper
¾ cup mild molasses
2/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ cup vegetable oil
½ cup milk (whole or low-fat, not skim)
Dulce de Leche frosting (recipe follows)
Powdered sugar and a pinch of cinnamon, to serve
- In a small skillet over medium heat, cook the pumpkin for 10-12 minutes until thickened and fragrant, stirring frequently. It is done when the color has deepened slightly and the kitchen smells like pumpkin pie. Transfer to a bowl and set aside to cool.
- While the pumpkin cooks, preheat the oven to 350F and grease and flour 2, 9 inch cake pans. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, ginger, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and pepper.
- In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, combine the molasses, brown sugar, granulated sugar, and baking soda together at medium speed. Add the eggs, vegetable oil, milk, and cooled pumpkin and beat at medium speed until well combined, 1-2 minutes. Add half of the flour mixture and beat on medium high for 30-45 seconds. Scrape down the bowl and add the remainder of the flour and beat at medium-high speed for 1 minute, until well combined. Remove bowl from the mixer and stir and few times with a rubber spatula to ensure that all the flour is incorporated.
- Divide the batter between the prepared pans. If you have a kitchen scale, each cake pan will have about 1 ½ pounds of batter in it. Bake the cakes side by side on the middle rack of the oven until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the cakes spring back with lightly touched, 25-35 minutes. Do not open the oven until at least 25 of baking time has passed. Once the cakes are finished, remove them from the oven and let cool on wire racks for at least 3 hours before frosting. Cake will keep overnight, covered, before frosting.
- To frost the cake, line the edges of the serving platter with parchment strips, then place one of the cake layers on the platter. Spread ¾ cup of the frosting into an even layer on top of the bottom layer, then top with the second layer. Spread the remaining frosting on the top and sides of the cake. Combine the powdered sugar and the cinnamon in a sifter and use it to dust the top of the cake. Remove the strips of parchment from the edges of the cake, and serve.
Note: The frosting for the cake should be kept refrigerated, so once the cake has been frosted, store it in the refrigerator until serving time.
Dulce de Leche Frosting
Makes enough to frost 1 layer cake
3 egg whites
¾ cup granulated sugar
Pinch table salt
12 tablespoons (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened and cut into 12 pieces
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup Dulce de leche
Set a saucepan with 3-4 cups of water in it over medium heat and bring to a simmer. In the bowl of a standing mixer, whisk together the egg whites, sugar, and salt. Set the bowl over the simmering water and whisk constantly until foamy and voluminous. The mixture should be 150F. This will take about 3 minutes.
Transfer the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk on medium speed until cooled slightly, 1-2 minutes.
With the mixer on medium, add the butter 1 piece at a time, whisking after every addition.
Turn the mixer off, add the vanilla and Dulce de leche. Turn the speed to medium high and beat until smooth and fluffy, 2-3 minutes.