Pumpkin and cheese (cream cheese, to be specific) is one of those combinations that sounds weird if you have never tried it, but works incredibly well. So, pumpkin and cheese pastries (or pastelitos, as we call them down my way) seemed like a win for me. Lightly sweetened pumpkin puree and soft cream cheese wrapped in flaky puff pastry…what could be wrong with that?
I got the idea when I had some canned pumpkin left over from making pumpkin oatmeal and didn’t really know what to do with it. Thankfully, I also had a few boxes of puff pastry sitting in the freezer from when I stocked up during a sale, so it wasn’t difficult to come up with a plan that incorporated both.
You will need defrosted the pastry dough. If you are making your own puff pastry, then more power to you. I am not on that level yet.
Prep your filling and your egg wash. Combine your pumpkin puree, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg together. Then, crack an egg into a small bowl and beat, then pour half of the beaten egg into your pumpkin mixture. Save the other half for your egg wash.
Unfold each piece of defrosted puff pastry and cut into 9 equal pieces. I used a pizza cutter for that part. Then, cut small pieces of cream cheese and place some in 9 of the squares and top with a spoonful of the pumpkin mixture. Using a pastry brush, moisten the outer edges of the filled squares with egg wash, then top with an unfilled square of dough. Gently press down around the edges to seal the dough. Repeat until you have 9 filled squares of pastry. Then, place on a baking sheet and brush with remaining egg wash. You can also sprinkle with sugar, if you want.
Bake them at 350º until they are puffy and golden on the outside, about 30-35 minutes. Let them cool for at least 15-20 minutes before you attempt to consume, as the filling will be HOT.
Using a small amount of egg as a binder ensures that you have a somewhat custard-like filling in your pumpkin and cheese pastries, instead of a mess of pumpkin oozing out. Store any leftovers in an airtight container. These are best served warm. I like to heat mine up in my toaster oven the next day, but you can also eat them at room temperature if you’re not as patient as I am.
Pumpkin and Cheese Pastries (Pastelitos)
- 1 17oz package frozen puff pastry, thawed
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- 3 tbsp brown sugar
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- a pinch of nutmeg
- 4-6 oz cream cheese, cold
- 1 egg, beaten
- granulated sugar (optional)
Preheat oven to 350º. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Mix pumpkin, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg together in a small bowl. Add half of the beaten egg and mix until combined. Set aside.
On a silicone mat or lightly floured surface, gently unfold both sheets of pastry dough and cut into 18 equal squares (9 squares per sheet).
Cut small rectangles of cream cheese and place in the center of 9 of the dough squares. Top with the pumpkin mixture, then use a pastry brush to brush some of the remaining egg mixture around the edges of the filled dough squares. Top with an unfilled dough square, pressing gently to seal. Set finished squares on prepared baking sheet and brush with leftover beaten egg. Sprinkle with sugar, if desired.
Bake in preheated oven for 30-35 minutes, or until tops are golden brown. Allow to cool 15-20 minutes before eating, and cool completely on a wire rack before storing.
Makes 9 servings.