Homemade Pumpkin “Toaster Strudels”
While some may think it would defy logic and evolution to not have pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving, I like to push boundaries. Don’t get me wrong, pumpkin is a MUST on Thanksgiving, but who says it has to be pie?
I was actually trying to perfect my pumpkin pie. Instead of a flaky pastry crust I attempted a combination of ground up ginger snaps and graham crackers just to switch things up. It turned out well and the rich, smooth pumpkin filling was pretty darn good, but just not perfect. Not wanting to serve just another average pumpkin pie I began searching for other pumpkin desserts to serve to my family on Turkey Day. I thought of pumpkin tiramisu (maybe next year) and then a pumpkin cake (meh, not very unique) and it wasn’t until I was channel surfing that I saw a recipe for pumpkin strudel, via Michael Symon on the Cooking Channel.
I find Michael Symon to be one of the more entertaining food personalities. His infections laughter and constant smile are reminders of how fun cooking can be. His idea of wrapping a pumpkin and cream cheese mixture in layers of phyllo dough sounded brilliant. You get the creaminess of the pumpkin and flaky layers reminiscent of a well-executed pie crust but in a different format. Sounded like a winner to me! And it was.
While one could make more of a roll or tubular shape, I chose to make mine more flat, almost like those frozen toaster strudels kids eat. And yeah, it was basically the best toaster strudel I’ve ever had and made me think of a gourmet version of a childhood favorite.
A few notes:
- I’ve made pumpkin puree by roasting pumpkins and I honestly didn’t think it was worth the hassle. I typically think homemade is superior, but really, when it comes to pumpkin I think the canned stuff is good and much less trouble.
- I found it helped to refrigerate the pumpkin and cream cheese mixture to let it firm up a bit. Right after initially mixing it was incredibly soft. I found it was easier to form the strudels with the mixture being a bit firmer.
- This is a prefect make ahead dish. Once I formed the strudels (completed all steps before sprinkling with sugar and baking) I placed them on a parchment lined baking tray and froze for about an hour, then individually wrapped in saran wrap and kept in the freezer. I brought them to room temperature a few hours before baking and they came out just perfectly. If you go this route, you might consider brushing on a smidge more melted butter before sprinkling with sugar and baking.
Adapted from Michael Symon – Makes 8 portions
- 1 15-ounce can pumpkin
- 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
- 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground clove
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 24 sheets frozen phyllo dough, thawed
- 1 cup butter, melted
- 3 tablespoons turbinado sugar, or other coarse sugar
- 1 cup chopped pecans (optional)
- 2 tablespoons honey (optional)
- Whipped cream (optional)
Combine the cream cheese, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, ginger, and nutmeg in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and whip until light and fluffy (3-5 minutes). Add pumpkin and vanilla and mix until completely combined and uniform in color (another few minutes).
Place a sheet of phyllo on a work surface (I just used a clean kitchen counter) and brush on a thin layer of melted butter. Place a second piece of phyllo directly on top. Try and line them up closely the first time, as you really can’t adjust after the second piece has been placed. Repeat and add a third layer of phyllo.
I worked quite fast, but if you’re new to working with phyllo you’ll want to cover the remaining phyllo with plastic wrap to ensure it doesn’t dry out (it becomes much harder to work with if it dries out).
Place two heaping tablespoons of the pumpkin filling two inches from the left edge of the phyllo in the center of the phyllo. Moving from left to right, fold over the left edge on top of the filling and lightly roll. Tuck in the top and bottom so the filling is completely covered, then continue to roll (think of how you might roll a burrito). Brush on additional melted butter as needed to ensure the phyllo sticks to itself. Brush all sides of the fully wrapped strudel with melted butter.
Repeat with remaining phyllo layers and filling. This makes 8 total.
At this point either freeze (as described in above notes) or bake.
To bake, sprinkle on coarse sugar and bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 16-18 minutes, until golden brown.
Serve slightly warm. Drizzle with honey, sprinkle with chopped pecans, and top with whipped cream. Enjoy!