With all the cooking, planning, and preparation that goes into Thanksgiving, it can be easy to overlook the cooking that might be necessary for the weekend’s breakfasts, brunches, or afternoon tea and coffee, especially if you are entertaining. When guests come in from out of town, the amount of work in the kitchen increases ten-fold, and it can be so tempting to take shortcuts (as you should!). But, it’s also nice to really pamper everyone with a special treat, something other than the big turkey dinner.
One of my favorite traditional Filipino meriénda (snack, similar to an afternoon tea) pastries is the Ensaymada, a brioche that has its origins from the Spanish Ensaïmada. While the Spanish Ensaïmada traditionally uses saïm, a reduced pork lard, in the Philippines, the brioche is butter based. Filled with shredded Queso de Bolla (Edam cheese) and topped with butter and sprinkled with sugar, it’s delightfully sweet and savory at the same time (though more sweet, to my taste buds’ happiness). Perfect with a cup of dark roasted coffee, it is a wonderful brioche all year round, though in the Philippines it is especially popular around the Christmas holidays.
My relatives on my Father’s side of the family make a phenomenal traditional Ensaymada, and nothing used to please me more than a platter of these buttery buns delivered to the house during the holidays. We would savor them with hot chocolate, licking the buttery sugar from our fingertips. I have discovered that what used to seem exceedingly daunting to create is actually not that difficult. Yes, it does take time, however, the bulk of the work can be done the day before, and working with the dough, is, oddly, calming.
I thought it might be fun to reinterpret the Ensaimada once more, this time with a spiced pumpkin mascarpone filling. In this reincarnation, the Pumpkin Mascarpone Ensaymada takes on a more savory tone, a lovely interlude to the larger celebration at hand. I’m afraid I will never be able to have another Thanksgiving holiday without it.
There were some amazing bloggers that were also, to my great sadness, eliminated in the last round of Project Food Blog. Many of us had already created a baked good using the required seasonal ingredient, pumpkin, in preparation for Challenge 9. In the spirit of fun and Thanksgiving, some of us are sharing these delicious treats today! Hope you enjoy! For more pumpkin inspiration, please visit:
Pumpkin Mascarpone Ensaymada
Makes a baker’s dozen.
Mix then set aside:
- 3½ tsp yeast
- ¼ cup lukewarm water
- 1½ tsp white sugar
Heat then cool:
- ½ cup milk
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- ½ cup white sugar
- 3 egg yolks
- ¼ cup melted butter
- 1/4 cup canned pumpkin or pumpkin purée
- ½ cup all purpose flour (for allowance)
For the filling and topping:
- 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
- 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp vanilla
- 1/8 tsp ground cloves
- 8-oz mascarpone cheese
- 2-3 tbsp white sugar and 2 tbsp softened butter for topping
Preheat oven to 375° F.
Whisk flour and sugar in a large bowl. Add egg yolks, melted butter, milk and yeast mixture. Mix everything until nearly incorporated, then add pumpkin puree. Knead until well blended and binded, then transfer into a greased bowl. Cover with a dishcloth, and let rise for 1 hour.
Make the filling by combining canned pumpkin, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, vanilla, and cloves in a bowl. Stir in the mascarpone cheese till well blended. Set aside in the refrigerator.
Turn dough out onto board, punch out the air, then roll and cut into a dozen or so pieces of equal size. Roll each portion into a thin rectangle. Smear about 1-2 tsp of the filling, leaving a border on the edges. Fold edges over and roll, almost like an egg roll, to form a small log. Pinch seams shut and roll the little log until you can form a coil or snail shape. Place in a brioche pan or standard sized muffin pan. Let rise for another hour or overnight in the refrigerator.
Brush with butter, sprinkle with sugar, and bake at 375° for 15-20 minutes or until light brown.