Rosca de Nuez
How to make the holiday dessert from Mexico
Pastry & Baking Arts student Carolina Buchanan shares her favorite family recipe for the holidays: a traditional Mexican dessert filled with nostalgia from her childhood.
My mother’s side of the family comes from a small city in Mexico called Linares where, if you ask me, the specialty is every possible pastry combining nuts and caramel. I grew up spending a lot of time during the holidays at my grandparents’ home there, which had huge, beautiful nut trees. Every time we visited, my grandmother handed us each a bag, and my brothers, cousins and I would collect all the nuts we could find. Then as a family, we’d gather them all and pop them open.
Traditions are big in my family, and the most important thing about a tradition is doing it together. Part of my holiday memories was rosca de nuez (thread of nuts), a puff pastry with nut filling and maple glaze that combines the sweet and nostalgic feelings and flavors that filled my childhood. Every Christmas, there was a mass production of roscas because people love them so much. The dessert was a little, traditional gift we’d give our most beloved friends and family. I would sit in the kitchen and watch as my family assembled three strings of pastry filled with a creamy and delicious nut filling. I was amazed at how my mother made it look so simple to braid a perfect wreath and add cherries at the end, which made it look like the ideal holiday gift.
As I watched and learned, I started making the recipe myself, and it has become a dish that I am especially proud of sharing. This is a holiday pastry that is made to enjoy in good company.
Rosca de Nuez
Yields 8-10 servings
- 1 kilogram puff pastry
- 2 cups pecans, chopped
- 8 ounces Philadelphia cream cheese
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- Milk, as needed
- 1 egg
- Maple syrup
- Cherries, as needed
- Spread a little bit of flour on a surface and with a rolling pin, work your dough to get a rectangle, about 60 cm x 50 cm, and divide it into three separate rectangles.
- To make the filling: grind the nuts in a food processor until you start to see some of the natural fat appear before it reaches a butter consistency.
- In a bowl, mix your ground nuts with cream cheese and powdered sugar. Divide your filling into three equal parts and spread it evenly along each of the rectangles of puff pastry dough. Close your rectangles into three cylinders, brushing each fold with milk.
- Braid your three strings, shaping them into a wreath.
- Mix 1 egg with a little milk and brush the egg wash over your wreath.
- Bake at 350 F for 30 minutes or until golden.
- Let cool for 15 minutes and then glaze with maple syrup. Decorate with cherries.
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