Peppernuts (Mennonite Pfeffernüsse Cookies)

Growing up, I knew that every Christmas or visit to our Mennonite grandparents’ house would bring a taste of peppernuts. These little cookies are flavored predominately with warm spices like anise, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, cardamom, etc. and are life-changing when served with a cup of coffee (okay, maybe day-changing, but that’s delightful enough for me). Even as a young child, I loved dipping the little cookies into black coffee (just for a second!) for the perfect crispy-soggy texture and sweet-bitter flavor.

There are so many different versions of these little treats—as I understand it, peppernuts come from the traditional German spice cookies called Pfeffernüsse and are very similar to Dutch pepernoten. They have evolved over generations in the United States by the various different groups of ethnic Mennonites* that emigrated from central Europe. The version I offer here is based on the anise-forward cookies that have always been served in my family and is adapted from cookbooks put together by the Mennonite churches around my hometown in Southwest Kansas. It is by no means the end-all-be-all on peppernuts! The recipes vary from community to community, and person to person. Oftentimes, you can find versions made with dark molasses, filled with chopped nuts, coated in powdered sugar, and the list goes on.

Peppernuts are only one of the many scratch-made foods that I didn’t realize were special to my “part of the world” until I left, and making them always brings me back to the memories of my grandmother’s farmhouse kitchen and community celebration days in my hometown. Someday, I’ll share others, like bierocks, cabbage borscht (nope, not the bright-red soup you’re thinking of), and graham cracker fluff, so that others can share in the simple but thoughtfully-made food of the Mennonites.

*For context, my family has roots in the Holdeman Mennonite faith. There are many different branches to the Mennonite anabaptist tree, and they vary from communities with lifestyles comparable with the Amish to other groups with Methodist-like practices. Growing up, my immediate family only participated in the faith peripherally—and I personally am Mennonite by ancestry only, not by belief or practice.

Peppernuts (Mennonite Pfeffernüsse Cookies)

This recipe was adapted from a variety of local Mennonite community church cookbooks.
Makes around 250-300 peppernuts (about 1 gallon of little cookies)

Ingredients

  • 660 grams all-purpose flour (5 1/2 cups)
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 198 grams granulated sugar (1 cup)
  • 213 grams light brown sugar (1 cup)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (113 grams), softened
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk (or 1/2 cup milk + 1/2 tsp white vinegar)
  • 1/4 tsp anise oil1

Preparation

  1. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and cloves. Whisk until spices are well distributed throughout the flour.
  2. Combine sugars and shortening in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment (or in a large bowl, if using a handheld electric mixer). Beat on medium speed until uniform in color and a sticky-crumbly texture, about 5 minutes, scraping the bowl with a rubber spatula halfway through.
  3. Add egg to sugar mixture and continue to beat until egg is fully incorporated. Add buttermilk (or milk and vinegar) and anise oil to bowl and mix on low until mixture is smooth and uniform in color (it will look curdled at first; continue mixing until the mixture comes back together). Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed to incorporate butter mixture.
  4. Add half of the flour mixture and mix on low speed just to incorporate (I like to “pulse” my mixer between low and off a few times to get the mixing started; this helps avoid a flurry of flour from shooting up from the bowl). Once flour is incorporated, add second half of flour mixture and mix on low until a stiff dough forms and no dry powder remains visible, about 1-2 minutes. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as necessary to incorporate all of the flour.
  5. Turn dough out onto a clean surface and pat into a smooth, thick round. Split into 4 pieces. Roll each quarter into a log, about 1-1 1/2” in diameter (if dough is too sticky to work with easily, sprinkle lightly with flour). Wrap each log tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate the logs for at least 1 hour and up to 2 days2.
  6. Preheat oven to 350°F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper (or spray with nonstick cooking spray)3. Ensure two of your oven racks are set in upper-middle and lower-middle positions.
  7. Working with one log at a time (leaving the remaining dough in the refrigerator), remove the plastic wrap and place on a clean work surface. Using both hands, roll dough into a long, thin rope (about 1/2” in diameter, or finger-thickness). If the log gets too long to work with easily, cut it into halves or thirds to make it more manageable.
  8. Use a sharp knife or metal pastry scraper to cut cookies into 1/2” pieces. Distribute peppernut cookies evenly across the prepared baking sheets, leaving about 1/2” around all sides of each peppernut.
  9. Bake cookies until lightly golden brown, puffed, and set to the touch—about 12-14 minutes—rotating the sheets halfway through baking from back to front and (if baking with two sheets at once) from the upper-middle rack to lower-middle rack and vice versa.
  10. Remove cookies from oven and leave them on the sheet pan until fully cooled, about 10 minutes. Transfer to an airtight container to store at room temperature4.

Notes

1Anise oil is a concentrated ingredient, lending potent flavor in just a few drops. Make sure you’re using food-grade anise oil—you can find it in specialty spice shops or in the hobby baking section of some grocery and craft stores alongside the candy flavorings (LorAnn Oils is the most common brand). Anise extract is much easier to find (alongside other extracts in the normal baking aisle) but not quite as potent, so use 1 tsp extract as a substitute for the 1/4 tsp oil.
2You can also freeze the logs at this point for up to 6 months. When you’re ready to make more peppernuts, just let the dough thaw in the refrigerator for 1-2 days before continuing with the next step.
3If you don’t have two baking sheets, just let the sheet cool down completely between each batch, about 10-15 minutes.
4You can also pack these cookies gently into airtight resealable bags and freeze them for up to 1 year. Peppernuts are a common Mennonite treat to share with guests, as the tiny cookies are excellent served with coffee and thaw at room temperature in moments.

In 2016, I developed a recipe for Peppernuts (Anise Cookies) for Savory Spice. I prefer the recipe published above, as the cookies are slightly softer and chewier, and have a milder (more “crowd-friendly”) anise flavor.

Lemon Curd Buttermilk Ice Cream

Ask me what my favorite food is and I’ll interrupt with “ice cream!” before you’ve finished the question. When I was given an ice cream maker in 2017, I thought my life was going to be a non-stop joy ride from that moment forward. TBH, I barely looked at it for the next two years. The ice cream aisle and I are friends; why would I ruin that relationship? It was only when I was developing a lemon curd filling for Cauldron Cakes that inspiration really struck.

This recipe was born out of two no-churn ice cream recipes. The first I saw during my time at America’s Test Kitchen when the talented team behind Cook’s Country were performing the oh-so-difficult task of narrowing countless options to a mere 12 takes on a flawless no-churn method. They didn’t have to search far for willing taste-testers.

The second was in the Savory Spice Test Kitchen, where Michael Kimball blew my mind by developing vanilla ice cream using a buttermilk base. His recipe produces an ice cream that not only lets shy vanilla flavors shine but also has just enough tanginess to lighten and brighten. It’s an ice cream that feels like a fitting afternoon treat, not just a decadent evening splurge.

While I was inspired by these outstanding no-churn ice creams, I want to let you in on something: I prefer churning when I go through the homemade ice cream effort. It takes a little more attention and an extra appliance (ugh), but it offers a lighter, smoother texture as opposed to the denser and firmer results of no-churn. But, the differences are slight with this recipe, so do whatever makes you happy! Ice cream should only spark joy.

Regardless of which freezing method you choose, there are a few key steps you can take to ensure you’re getting the most from your base. The primary goal when making ice cream at home is to reduce the formation of ice crystals. Too much crystalline formation takes what could be lusciously scoopable ice cream and turns it into a solid, spoon-bending hunk of disappointment—and I’m speaking from experience here.

This recipe provides some insurance: both alcohol (here, in the form of bourbon or whiskey) and liquid sugar (in the form of corn syrup) help to discourage ice crystals. Incorporating air by whipping the cream gives you a head start against solid hunk-dom, but if you really want to ensure scoop-ability, remember to chill out.

Everything—from your ingredients, to the prepared ice cream base, to the final container it goes into—should be as cold as possible. A chilled cream base means less time freezing or churning, which means less time for ice crystals to form in the first place. When your ice cream is perfectly frozen and soft, transfer it to a chilled storage container so it doesn’t melt and refreeze all willy-nilly around the edges. Sound easy enough? Good! Let’s get started:

Lemon Curd Buttermilk Ice Cream Recipe

Lemon Curd

Recipe Inspiration: Pierre Hermé’s Lemon Cream, as described by Dorie Greenspan on Serious Eats
Makes about 2 1/2 cups lemon curd

Ingredients

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup fresh lemon juice (from about 5 lemons)
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon zest (from about 2 lemons)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 12 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into pats

Preparation

  1. Combine sugar, lemon juice and zest, eggs, and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk thoroughly until combined.
  2. In a medium pot over medium-high heat, bring about 2 inches of water to a simmer. Once simmering, reduce heat to low and set the lemon mixture in its bowl on top of the pot (the bottom of the bowl should not touch the simmering water).
  3. Whisk constantly until mixture is thickened and coats the back of a spoon. It should reach 180°F on a thermometer. This could take up to 25 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat. Whisk in butter, a few pats at a time. Let each addition melt and incorporate before adding another.
  5. Filter through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean bowl. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the curd. Let cool to room temperature, then chill in the refrigerator until cold, at least 2 hours. Curd can be made and kept in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Lemon Curd Buttermilk Ice Cream

Recipe Inspirations: Michael Kimball’s No-Churn Buttermilk Vanilla Ice Cream for Savory Spice and Morgan Bolling’s No-Churn Ice Cream for Cook’s Country
Makes about 1 1/2 pints ice cream

Ingredients

  • 2 cups lemon curd
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 Tbsp. light corn syrup
  • 2 Tbsp. bourbon or whiskey (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp. Kosher salt
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • Remaining lemon curd, sprinkles, and/or strawberries for serving

Preparation

  1. In a medium bowl, combine lemon curd, buttermilk, corn syrup, bourbon/whiskey (if using), vanilla extract, and salt. Stir until combined and set aside.
  2. In a blender, whip cream until stiff peaks form, about 45 seconds to 1 minute. Scrape with a rubber spatula as needed, every 15 seconds or so.
  3. Add lemon curd mixture to blender and blend until combined, about 30 seconds.

For traditional churning:

  1. Gently scoop mixture into a lidded container and chill until very cold, about 1 hour.
  2. Transfer ice cream base to ice cream machine. Churn according to your machine’s specifications, until ice cream is the consistency of thick soft-serve. In my setup, this took about 25 minutes.
  3. While ice cream churns, chill a lidded quart-sized container in the freezer. This will prevent any of the newly churned cream from melting around the edges when it comes out of the machine.
  4. Scoop ice cream into chilled container. Enjoy immediately as “soft-serve” or freeze until firm, at least 1 hour, before scooping into bowls or cones.
  5. Serve with leftover lemon curd, sprinkles, or sliced strawberries, if desired.

For no-churn method:

  1. Place a loaf pan or medium baking dish in the freezer to chill, at least 15 minutes. If you’ve already created the ice cream base, keep it in the refrigerator while the dish gets cold.
  2. Pour ice cream base into cold dish. Freeze until firm throughout, about 3 to 6 hours, depending on the depth of the dish.
  3. Scoop and serve with leftover lemon curd, sprinkles, or sliced strawberries, if desired.
  4. To store, cover baking dish tightly or transfer scoops of ice cream into a chilled, lidded container.


Cauldron Cakes | Based on Harry Potter

I’ve been working on these for a while. Since I started this Harry Potter recipes development project, I have been thinking about what cauldron cakes from the wizarding world would look and taste like. I mean, except for the name, they’re never given much of a literary description. In searching the internet for other people’s interpretations, I found a lot of chocolate and overturned cupcakes–honestly, those just didn’t do it for me, and I thought I could do better.

Let’s start with the shape. The reason this recipe took me so long was my search for the perfect baking mold. I didn’t want to make just another ill-disguised upside down cupcake or a cake carved vaguely into the shape of–what is that? a lump? No, I wanted these to be pristine little half-domes with a clean, smooth coating. You know, like a cauldron. My solution: silicone. I bought these molds from the crafting store and started experimenting. I had used silicone for chocolate and Bavarian creams in culinary school, but never baking. Turns out, these silicone molds are not as nonstick as their cousins, Silpats, would have you believe. My first batch of cakes completely tore apart as I tried to remove them from their divots. Lesson learned–grease and flour them, and give your cakes plenty of time to chill in the molds before releasing them for clean shapes.

In the Harry Potter books, chocolate is found in the forms of frogs and wands and in big blocks (in case of Dementors, duh), plus Chocolate Cauldrons are specifically called out as the magical equivalent to filled truffles. Since cauldrons already have a chocolate version, I went another way for the flavoring: blackberry and lemon. The lemon curd topping makes these little cauldrons look like they’re filled with bright, golden Felix Felicis, but you could switch it up with whatever “potion” (okay, okay–jam or other sweet spread) you choose. The blackberry cake holds its vivid purple color exceptionally well during baking and is a charming little surprise after you bite through the chocolate coating.

Speaking of the coating, these little cauldrons are encased with white chocolate colored with–wait for it–charcoal. And you thought that fad was over. Yes, you can totally use a black gel food coloring but where’s the fun in decorating if you’re not cautiously twisting open activated charcoal capsules that you got in the supplements aisle, praying that you don’t stain anything in your kitchen black (again)? It’s a fun ingredient to use for adding natural coloring to food, even if it’s super unnecessary as a health supplement. It has the added bonus of creating a matte finish, which adds a lot of authenticity to the cauldrons.

Overall, these little cakes were unbelievably adorable and I couldn’t stop looking at them. Even my SO couldn’t keep the smile off his face when he admitted that they were “pretty cute.” Yes, the recipe is a bit of a project, but it could be simplified by using a boxed cake mix (either pre-flavored or with the homemade juice mixture stirred in). The blackberry and lemon together create a wonderful balance of fruity sweetness and tart citrus, but the cauldrons could be recreated with different flavor combos (strawberry cake instead of blackberry, chocolate cake with caramel sauce “potion,” yellow cake with cherry preserves, the list goes on). Even with my imperfect chocolate piping skills, they were forgiving enough to be one of the most enjoyable baking projects I’ve done in a long time.

But anyway, enough talking! Let’s get to it:

Cauldron Cakes Recipe

Cake Recipe Inspiration: Stella Parks’s Classic Vanilla Butter Cake on Serious Eats
Makes about 30 cauldron cakes

Blackberry Cake

Ingredients

Blackberry Juice

  • 1 (16 oz.) bag frozen blackberries
  • 1 cup water

Blackberry Cake

  • 1/2 cup reserved blackberry juice
  • 2 Tbsp. whole milk, room temperature
  • 5.3 oz. granulated sugar (150 grams; about 3/4 cup)
  • 3 oz. unsalted butter, room temperature (85 grams; 6 Tbsp.)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 5.3 oz. all-purpose flour (150 grams; about 1 cup plus 2 1/2 Tbsp.), plus extra for flouring molds

Preparation

Blackberry Juice

  1. Combine blackberries and water in a medium pot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook uncovered until berries are broken down and juice is reduced and thick, about 30 minutes, stirring frequently.
  2. Filter out fruit solids through a fine-mesh sieve, pressing to extract juice. You should have just over ½ cup juice. It’s okay if yours didn’t reduce exactly to 1/2 cup. If you have over 1 cup, simmer juice for 10 to 15 more minutes to reduce further. If your juice reduced too much, add water until you have 1/2 cup.
  3. Let juice cool completely at room temperature.

Blackberry Cake

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease silicone molds with nonstick cooking spray and sprinkle generously with flour to coat. Gently shake out excess flour, then place prepared silicone molds right-side up on a baking sheet and set aside.
  2. Combine blackberry juice and milk and set aside.
  3. Combine sugar, butter, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric mixer). Beat on medium speed until light and aerated, about 5 minutes, scraping the bowl with a rubber spatula halfway through.
  4. Add egg and vanilla to sugar mixture and continue beating until fully incorporated.
  5. Add a third of the flour and mix on low until combined. With the mixer running, drizzle in a third of the juice mixture. Repeat with alternating thirds of flour and juice until all ingredients have been incorporated, stopping to scrape the bowl with a rubber spatula as necessary.
  6. Do a final scrape of the mixing bowl with to ensure all flour has been incorporated into the batter. Fill each of the silicone molds with 1 scant tablespoon of the cake batter*.
  7. Bake for 11 to 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of several of the cakes comes out clean.
  8. Let cakes cool at room temperature for at least 15 minutes, then transfer to the freezer and chill for at least 1 hour. Carefully push cakes out of the molds and keep refrigerated until ready to decorate.
  9. Repeat baking and cooling process with remaining batter**.

Assembly & Decoration

Ingredients

  • 2 (10 oz.) bags white melting wafers (like Ghiradelli’s)
  • 6 to 15 capsules activated charcoal or gel food coloring***
  • About 1/2 cup prepared lemon curd or preferred fruit jam

Preparation

  1. Place white chocolate wafers in a medium glass bowl. Heat in the microwave until chocolate is melted, about 1 to 2 minutes, stirring every 15 to 30 seconds.
  2. Carefully open charcoal capsules over white chocolate and stir to incorporate the powder (discard the capsule shells). Add charcoal (or gel food coloring) until the desired color of gray or black is reached.
  3. Pour chocolate mixture into a pastry bag or resealable zip-top bag and snip a small opening in the corner to pipe.
  4. Using the cleaned and dried silicone mold, pipe about 1 1/2 tsp. of chocolate coating into each space. Press chilled cakes gently into coating, just until the chocolate comes up flush to the top. Work quickly, as chocolate coating can set in the piping bag after several minutes (if this happens, reheat briefly in the microwave).
  5. Pipe a lip/edge onto the top of the “cauldron” with chocolate. Let coating set, about 5 minutes, before carefully pushing cauldrons out of the mold.
  6. If desired, lay out a piece of wax or parchment paper and pipe a small “X” formation that will act as the cauldron feet. Set the cake on top of the “X” and let chocolate set before peeling off of paper.
  7. Onto the top of each cauldron, spoon or pipe lemon curd (or jam “potion” of choice). You could also add sugar pearl sprinkles to emulate bubbles or any other decorations of your choice.
  8. Store cakes at room temperature for up to 6 hours and in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Notes

*My silicone molds held 2 Tbsp. of filling. If you have a differently sized mold, fill each divot about halfway.
**This recipe yields enough batter to make about 30 (1 Tbsp.) cakes, or enough for two molds. If you don’t have two molds (I don’t either), refrigerate the batter while you wait for the first cakes to bake and chill. Let the batter sit at room temperature for at least 15 minutes before baking the second batch. Alternatively–just make cupcakes with the remaining batter, cut out the centers, and fill with lemon curd before frosting or dipping the bottoms in chocolate coating. They’re like extra-capacity cauldrons!
***I used activated charcoal from the supplements aisle and twisted open the capsules to pour out the charcoal. You can also find powdered charcoal which you can sprinkle in, 1/4 tsp. at a time. Be careful not to get this charcoal on any plastic, wood, or clothing—it will stain. Don’t want to mess with charcoal? No shame. Black or gray gel coloring would work just as well.

Note: I in no way condone J.K. Rowling or her hurtful anti-trans sentiments. I believe in the power of stories and that books belong to their community of readers. I have made a commitment never to purchase merchandise, materials, or access to experiences (like Harry Potter World) that may financially benefit J.K. Rowling in anyway.


Pumpkin Pasties Two Ways: Curried & Sweet | Based on Harry Potter

At this point, it feels almost redundant to say that I’m a huge Harry Potter fan. I mean, most of my generation is—we grew up reading the series, going to midnight premieres, and living in a worldwide obsession of the wizarding world. As I get older—and way less in favor of the series creator herself—I still find so much comfort and meaning in reading the books and interacting with the enduring fan communities, like that of Harry Potter & The Sacred Text.

I’m rereading the series for the umpteenth time. Of course, I always get extra excited about all the magical food and drinks. A few years ago, I hosted a dinner with friends and made a few inspired treats, intermingled with some British staples of a Sunday roast.

But… I didn’t write any recipes down. I can recall just a few details of a pumpkin juice that tasted exactly like what I imagined or the aspects I wanted to change about the treacle tart. Since I can’t just wave a wand and make all of it appear again, I’ve decided to recreate my versions of the fictional favorites from Harry Potter—starting with how to make pumpkin pasties.

Curried Pumpkin Pasties

Last time I made pumpkin pasties, I came across a post from Bijoux & Bits where she made a sweet variety along with a savory one. The idea stuck with me, and I started thinking about what kind of flavors would be used in a snack like this one. It came to me almost immediately: curry. England has a reputation for their curry houses and tikka masala love—it makes sense that if pumpkin pasties were savory, they’d probably be spiced with an Indian-style curry blend.

So I started with a pie pumpkin (also called sugar pumpkins), which are meant for baking as opposed to the gigantic squashes that we carve up for jack-o’-lanterns. You could absolutely use sweet potatoes or butternut/acorn squash if pie pumpkins aren’t available. It should be roasted just until it’s soft and can be cubed, but not so much that it turns to mush when it’s mixed with sauteed onions and toasted curry powder. After baking, these pasties totally resembled baked samosas, with their super buttery crust and the warm, spiced squash filling. Perfect autumn snack!

I have to be totally honest though: I don’t actually think pumpkin pasties are savory. Although I’d love to think that the kids in the books had a savory, salty snack thrown in with all the treats, it seems like most of the witches and wizards in the books have major sweet tooths. So I made a sweet version as well.

Sweet Pumpkin Pasties

Okay, let me come clean. This recipe uses half of a pumpkin for the curried pasties and a portion of a can of pumpkin puree for the sweet. It’s a crime, I know—now there’s this leftover pumpkin that you have to deal with. Why did I commit this atrocity, you may ask? It came down to my stubborn imagination of a realistic shelf-stable sweet pasty. Pastries with diced veggies in them just aren’t going to stay fresh and edible for as long as ones with pureed fillings potentially could.

I know what you’re thinking: why not just puree the second half of that pumpkin we just roasted? I’ve got an answer for that too. Canned pureed pumpkin is actually made of closely related varieties of squash that have more concentrated sweetness and the “pumpkin” flavor that we’re familiar with, more so than the sugar pumpkins that you can find in stores. Sure, you could totally blend that other half and use it for your sweet pasties—but I strongly prefer the canned stuff when it comes to pumpkin puree. Don’t worry though! The other half of the roasted pumpkin is an excellent addition to cooked grains or pasta, chili, or a creamy pumpkin soup. The remainder of the canned puree can be used to make pumpkin juice or in any of these great suggestions.

For the spices in the sweet pasties, I didn’t want to just sprinkle in some pumpkin spice blend and call it good. I wanted these pasties to be lighter and brighter than the standard pumpkin pie filling. Yes, I did use cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice, but the warmer flavors are balanced with zingy ginger and floral cardamom. Make sure you taste your filling—you can always add more of the spices to your taste!

Crimping

Okay, so we’ve made our filling and you’ve already prepared your pie crust (of course!). Now comes the hard part: crimping. I did a lot of research on Cornish pasties for this recipe, and found that there are two crimping styles: the top crimp and the side crimp. I loved the way the top crimp looked, but I think side crimping might be a tad more tradish. I compromised and crimped the savory pasties on the top and the sweet pasties on the side. If crimping by hand isn’t your forte, try the top crimp first as I had an easier time with it. If it’s still not working out, go back to folding them on their side and press the edges with a fork to seal. Don’t stress—do what works best for you!

I’ll be honest, my kitchen was warm on the day I made my pumpkin pasties. I kept all of the pie dough chilled except for when I was working with portions of it. Still, when it came time for crimping, it felt like the dough was “melting” almost immediately. It made getting a good seal on the pasties more difficult and the final product didn’t look as cute as they could have on a cooler day. One small way to avoid getting the dough too warm while you prepare the pasties is to dip your hands in cold water and dry them thoroughly before working with the dough. On the plus side, I made King Arthur Flour’s recipe using my food processor and, even though conditions were less than ideal, they still came out so flaky and buttery. I can’t recommend that recipe enough!

Curried & Sweet Pumpkin Pasties Recipe

Makes 8 curried and 8 sweet pumpkin pasties (16 total)

Curried Pumpkin Pasty Filling

Ingredients

  • 1 small pie pumpkin, about 2 lbs
  • Oil, to drizzle
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup finely diced yellow onion
  • 1 ½ tsp. yellow curry powder*
  • 2 tsp. honey
  • Salt & pepper, to taste

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Cut the tough stem off of the pumpkin and cut it in half.
  2. Scoop out the seeds** and stringy “guts.” Place cleaned halves on a baking sheet, drizzle with oil, and flip cut-side down.
  3. Roast on the middle oven rack until a knife slides through the skin and flesh with slight give, about 30 minutes.
  4. Carefully flip pumpkin halves over to allow steam to escape and prevent continued cooking of the pumpkin flesh. Let sit until cool enough to handle.
  5. Remove the pumpkin skin (it should peel off easily when pulled). Cut 1 half of the pumpkin flesh into small cubes, about 1/2-inch (you should have about 2 cups). Reserve the remaining pumpkin half for other uses.
  6. Melt butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add onion and sweat until transparent and softened, about 5 to 6 minutes, stirring often.
  7. Reduce heat to medium-low and add curry powder. Toast until very aromatic, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in cubed pumpkin and honey.
  8. Season with salt & pepper to taste and let cool to room temperature.

Sweet Pumpkin Pasty Filling

Ingredients

  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg (or freshly grated on a microplane)
  • 1/16 tsp. ground cardamom
  • 1/16 tsp. ground allspice

Preparation

  1. In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients and whisk until smooth. Set aside.

Assembly

Ingredients

  • 2 unrolled pie crust doughs (enough for a double crusted pie)
  • 2 eggs, beaten (for egg wash)

Preparation

  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Split each dough into 8 portions (16 portions altogether) and form each portion into a ball. On a floured surface, roll one ball at a time into a 6-inch circle (don’t worry about them being perfectly round). Keep all the dough except the portion you’re working with chilled.
  3. For 8 of the circles, fill with 2 heaping tablespoons curried pumpkin filling. Brush edges of circle with beaten egg, fold, and crimp edges to seal. Keep any prepared pasties chilled until ready to bake.
  4. Repeat with remaining 8 circles, using 2 scant tablespoons of sweet pumpkin filling per pasty.
  5. Place prepared pasties on baking sheet and brush the outsides all over with egg wash. Bake until golden brown, about 35 to 45 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack. These are best when eaten within a day, but you can store leftovers in the refrigerator and re-crisp in a warm oven.

Notes

* There are so many curry powders. I stuck to a “standard” Indian-style blend (Spice Islands Yellow Curry Powder). Mine was pretty cumin-heavy, so I added 1/2 tsp. coriander and 1/8 tsp. ground ginger to the pumpkin mixture to brighten it up. Feel free to use your favorite bottled or homemade curry blend!
** To roast pumpkin seeds, rinse off all of the pulp and let them dry on a baking sheet. Drizzle them lightly with oil and salt or season as desired. Roast in a 375°F oven until they start to brown, about for 10 to 15 minutes (shaking the sheet every 5 minutes or so). Let cool and get snacking!

Note: I in no way condone J.K. Rowling or her hurtful anti-trans sentiments. I believe in the power of stories and that books belong to their community of readers. I have made a commitment never to purchase merchandise, materials, or access to experiences (like Harry Potter World) that may financially benefit J.K. Rowling in anyway.