"Christmas is coming and I am getting..." heh heh, oh wait. Wrong words. Although with all the cookie baking going on around here you never know, it might be more accurate. Rugelach. An incredible, pastry-like cookie that is both delicate and flaky, with each one wrapped around itself into an elegant crescent shaped morsel of delight. For the most part the only Rugelach I have ever eaten are the ones Mom would pick up once in a blue moon when she would head to SAMS Club for a bulk shopping trip. I was hooked after my first bite.
These were surprisingly easy to make. I had always thought that such an elegant cookie would be incredibly finicky to assemble and I am so pleased that I was wrong. Of course I'm kicking myself for putting off making these for so long, but I do that often so that's nothing new.
Although I knew that I wanted to make these Rugelach, I had no idea what I wanted to fill them with. I know that several recipes call for fillings of a mixture of sugar, chopped nuts, and chocolate chunks but I wasn't sure that was the direction I wanted to head in. I browsed my fridge and cupboard and saw that we had a jar of Strawberry Jam, Apricot Preserves, Chocolate Chips, leftover Cranberry Sauce, Walnuts, and Nutella. I knew that with all those options it wasn't going to be easy to pick just once, and since the dough gets divided into four parts I decided to make four different flavors.
Apricot, Strawberry, Cranberry-Walnut, and Nutella were the four I settled on. It wasn't until after I started spreading the cranberry sauce on the first round of dough that I remembered the apricot preserves were designated for another recipe and that there wouldn't be any to spare for this one. No problems there, I planned on making either a second Cranberry-Walnut or a Strawberry one sprinkled with mini chocolate chips, depending on how the cranberry turned out. I changed my mind at the last minute after tasting how wonderful the strawberry and nutella fillings tasted together (they had combined on the pizza cutter and I couldn't resist).
A few tips if you make this recipe. Make sure you use parchment paper on the cookie sheet or you are going to have a hard time removing them without breaking them. My first batch stuck pretty firmly to the pan, but I learned my lesson and the remaining three did fine on the parchment paper. Do not use strawberry jam, or I should say, if you choose to use it be prepared for it to ooze out all over the parchment paper (you will be very glad for the parchment paper at this point) and turn into a rather interesting strawberry caramel of some sort. It didn't seem to have a very strong flavor either, I may have had better luck with a homemade strawberry puree of some sort. Definitely go for the Nutella. If you don't like Nutella, that's fine. Make them with it anyway and I'll let you know where to mail them.
Finally, grease and flour your counter where you will be rolling these out. What? The counter? Yeah, you read that right. I'm going to post (hopefully over the weekend) about a few cookie tips and I will talk more about this then. You don't have to grease and flour the counter, you could just flour it, but it seems to stick so much less if you do both. (The real last tip is to actually make them instead of waiting months or years like I did.)
A bit of Dorie Greenspan, a bit of Ina Garten, and a bit of me
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 ounces cream cheese cut into small pieces
2 sticks unsalted butter, diced into small pieces
For Filling: (I didn't measure this is an estimate. Feel free to add more or less to taste, or make additions of such things as cinnamon, allspice, cardamom, etc. to the fillings)
scant 1/4 cup of selected filling per round of dough it is to be used on (Nutella, Cranberry Sauce, Apricot Preserves, Raspberry Jam, etc.)
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon milk for egg wash
coarse sugar to top
Measure flour, sugar, and salt into your food processor. Add the diced cubes of butter and cream cheese and process until it looks like large curds (do not process until it comes into a ball or it will be over mixed).
Divide the crumbles of dough onto four separate pieces of plastic wrap and press them each into disks. Wrap each piece and chill in the fridge at least 2 hours or overnight. When dividing the dough I found it worked best for me to use my kitchen scale in this manner: Place a bowl on the scale and balance to zero. Dump the contents of your food processor bowl into the bowl on the scale and read the weight of the dough. Divide that number into four. Reset the scale to zero and remove a quarter of the dough, which will be reflected in negative numbers of the scale, and place on a piece of plastic wrap. Reset to zero again and repeat for each quarter.
When ready to assemble, preheat oven to 350°F. Put about a tablespoon of oil (or less) on your countertop and spread into a very thin later. Sprinkle flour on top of the oiled spot and using your hand, spread the flour out well. Alternately, you can just flour the counter but I find the previous method works better. Roll out each ball of dough into a 9-12 inch circle. Spread your selected filling over the dough, leaving a slight perimeter bare.
Using a round wheeled pizza cutter, cut the circle into even wedges, I chose 16 since it is easier but you may also do 12 for larger cookies. Starting with the bare outer edge, roll each piece up and place on a parchment lined cooking sheet. Chill for 30 minutes.
Brush each cookie with the egg wash and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake each tray 15 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.
Makes four dozen or so depending on how you divide your rounds.
Check out what everyone else is serving up! Remember, next week is the last week before Christmas so you'd better start baking! Week 11 of the Twelve Weeks of Christmas: