Young and Hungry

Dish of the Week: POLLYstyle Pecan and Cranberry Rugelach

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By and large, I'm not so fond of packaged sweets, which tend to cater to the lowest-common palate and its taste for sugar, sugar, and more sugar. But Polly Brown's handiwork is different. The former pastry chef at Teaism has developed a thriving business selling treats to a number of shops and cafes under her POLLYstyle brand. Her honey grahams usually get all the hype.

But lately on my trips to the Modern Times Coffeehouse at Politics & Prose, I've been buying Brown's lean, sophisticated take on that Jewish cookie known as rugelach, often served around Hanukkah. Brown's version comes stuffed with cranberries and substitutes pecans for walnuts, the more common nut in rugelach. The cranberries add a nice element of tartness, while the pecans lend a sort of nutty richness and crunch to the bite-sized snack. The sweetness levels taste minimal to my palate, even with the dusting of cinnamon on top, and if there's cream cheese in the dough, it's subtle enough to escape detection.

The result is one of the most balanced treats — sweet and tart, crunch and softness — that I've had in awhile, even those sweets that don't come wrapped in cellophane.

By the way, that other thing in the picture? It's Brown's version of  a Rice Krispies treat, which may be the most overrated snack in history, all sticky sweet marshmallow, crunch, and lots of air. Brown's take includes the welcome addition of dried apricots and cranberries, which provides your palate with little pleasurable moments of tartness. The fruit helps, but it's still not enough to make me buy the thing again.

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