Thursday, September 18, 2008

Pumpkin "tamales"

This recipe is simple to make, but is impressive and different from the usual pie/cake/cookie dessert. Don't be fooled by the deep-fried appearance - these are baked.

1 can pumpkin (15 oz)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
18 sheets phyllo dough rectangles, thawed (you may want more if you are excluding pecans)
2/3 cup butter, melted (doesn't have to be exact)
1 cup sugar
4 tsp cinnamon
1 cup chopped pecans (optional)
1 brick cream cheese (8 oz)
Whipped cream (optional)

Preheat oven to 400*F.
In a small bowl, combine pumpkin, brown sugar, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, salt.
In another small bowl, combine sugar and 4 tsp cinnamon.

Lay out 2 phyllo sheets on top of each other. Keep the rest of the phyllo covered as you work, since it dries out easily. Brush some melted butter onto the top phyllo sheet.

Sprinkle some cinnamon sugar onto the phyllo (2-3 T). Sprinkle pecans if you are using nuts. Cut the phyllo in half lengthwise to make 2 long strips.
Cut the bar of cream cheese into 12 slices. Put one glob of cream cheese toward one end of each strip, and top with a glob (1 heaping T) of pumpkin mixture.

Fold one side over the filling and roll up to create a little pumpkin burrito. Take another phyllo sheet and tear it in half. Use each half to cover the little burritos/tamales again, in a neat package. The photo below shows one tamale before it has received its outside wrap.
Make 12 tamales in this fashion.

Place tamales seam-side down on a baking sheet, and brush with butter. In the photo below, the upper left tamale does not have an extra phyllo jacket on. That one fell apart after it was done baking, so I definitely recommend the extra phyllo layer on the outside.

Sprinkle with remaining cinnamon sugar.

Bake for 10 minutes, or until phyllo is golden brown.

Put on serving plate and serve with whipped cream, if desired.
I made these both with and without pecans. The pecans added a nice toothiness to the tamales, while the ones without nuts just had the soft filling. Since the baked phyllo adds some texture to offset the soft filling, you might want to add another layer of phyllo to each tamale if you exclude the nuts.

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