I’d like to wish all those that celebrated Yom Kippur this week a Happy, Healthy, and Prosperous New Year!
I had hoped to get this email out on Monday but I was traveling last week and had classes to teach this week among other things, and haven’t had a chance to get around to posting. Better late than never!
Rugelach is a Jewish pastry that’s very popular in Israel but also popular in America as well. If you’ve never heard of Rugelach the name is Yiddish and means “little twists” a reference to the shape of this cookie. Traditional rugelach are made in the form of a crescent by rolling a triangle of dough around a filling or like strudel which are rolled up like a cigar with the filling inside and sliced. The dough can be made using cream cheese or sour cream or using no dairy at all, in which case those keeping Kosher can enjoy their rugelach with meat dishes as well.
The cookies are soft and flaky on the outside with a sweet filling on the inside and are served all year round but predominantly during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur the Jewish New Year. They’re meant to symbolize the start of a sweet New Year.
Rugelach can be filled with a myriad of things. In the recipe below I’ve used pecans, chocolate chips, preserves, and sugar.
These “little twists” are quick to prepare and take virtually no prep time at all especially if you have the help of a food processor. Simply gather up your ingredients and process, it’s that simple. Follow the directions below for quick and easy Rugelach.
Whether you prepare your rugelach crescent style or like strudel, or how you fill them, they’re a delicious treat for everyone to enjoy whatever your religion is.
Homemade Rugelach for a sweet year!
- 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter
- 8 oz. cream cheese
- ¼ cup sour cream
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ tsp. salt
- 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
- 1 ½ cups chopped walnuts or pecans
- 1 ¼ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
- ½ cup berry preserves (raspberry, strawberry, or blackberry)
- ¼ cup brown sugar
Egg Wash & Topping Ingredients:
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp. water
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 1 ½ tsp. cinnamon
- Food processor or electric mixer, plastic wrap, parchment paper, cookie sheets, rolling pin and surface.
- Chop cold butter and cream cheese into smaller pieces. Put pieces into your food processor along with sour cream, flour, salt, and sugar. Pulse together ingredients until a crumbly dough forms and begins to fall away from the sides of the processor. Don’t over process; the dough should look crumbly, like cottage cheese.
Note: If you don’t have a food processor: let the butter and cream cheese come to room temperature. Using a stand mixer or hand mixer, cream the butter and cream cheese together with the sour cream. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, salt, and sugar. Slowly add the dry mixture to the wet mixture, mixing constantly, until dough holds together and begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl. Don’t overmix.
- Pour dough onto a lightly floured rolling surface and form into a ball.
- Divide the ball into four equal pieces, and shape each into a disk.
- Cover each disk with plastic and place in refrigerator. Refrigerate anywhere from 2 to 48 hours.
- Place nuts in food processor along with the chocolate chips, berry preserves, and brown sugar. Pulse together until a thick, coarse paste forms. Reserve.
- Combine the cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl; reserve. Beat egg with water; reserve.
- Preheat oven to 375 degree F. Lightly flour your rolling surface and rolling pin. Take one dough disk out of the refrigerator (keep the rest of the dough cold until ready to use). Roll out dough to about 1/8-inch thickness. The dough will be very firm and cold, but will become more pliable as it starts to warm. Just keep rolling with firm, even pressure.
- Lift dough gently from the rolling surface (it may stick a bit) and re-flour your surface beneath the dough.
- Replace the dough onto the newly re-floured surface. Use a round 9” cake pan as a guide to make a nice, smooth imprint of a circle in the dough or a 9” paper plate as a guide.
- Cut the dough into a large circle, following the shape of the cake pan or plate. If you don’t have either, guesstimate the size of the circle and cut it as smooth as you can.
- Form the trimmed excess dough into a small disk. Wrap it in plastic and reserve in the refrigerator, adding to the disk with each batch that is made.
- Take ¼ of the filling (about 4 Tbsp.) and place it in the center of the circle. Spread it very thin across the surface of the dough; a thick layer of filling will make the rugelach expand and burst. You can use your fingers to make the spreading easier. Leave about an inch around the edges of the circle.
- Cut the circle into 8 equal triangles by first cutting the circle in half…
- then quarters…
- then halve the quarters to make eights.
- If you prefer to make smaller bite-sized cookies, divide each quarter into three to make 12 equal triangles.
- Roll each triangle, starting from the wide flat end and rolling towards the narrow point.
- Press the end point into the dough to secure it. Place the rolled rugelach onto a parchment lined cookie sheet, end point down. Leave an inch between each, as they will expand slightly during baking.
- When you are ready to bake, brush the top of each cookie with egg wash…
- Then sprinkle lightly with cinnamon sugar.
- Place cookie sheet in oven and bake for 20- 25 minutes, or until golden brown.
- Roll out your next batch of dough while this batch is baking. When rugelach are golden brown, remove from oven and allow to cool.
- If you’d prefer to bake more than one batch at a time, you can store batched of rolled unbaked cookies (without egg wash) on a cookie sheet in the refrigerator. Egg wash and dust them with cinnamon sugar just prior to placing them in the oven.
- When you’re finished making rugelach from the four disks, make a smooth ball from the leftover dough trimmings you’ve reserved and roll it out to make your fifth batch.
Rugalach taste amazing served warm and fresh from the oven. They’ll keep for a few days in a tightly sealed container. You can rewarm them in the microwave if you want to. Using this dough recipe create other rugelach fillings.
Notes: After sampling various recipes for Rugelach using cream cheese and sour cream I found that I liked Tori Avey's recipe for Rugelach best which uses a combination of both!
Ideas for rugelach filling:
- Nut filling: In a food processor, grind 1 cup walnuts and 1 cup pecans until they break into tiny crumbs, 30 to 40 pulses. (Be careful of over-processing and making nut-butter.) Combine the ground nuts in a bowl with 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) melted butter, 1/4 cup honey, 1/4 cup granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla.
- Fruit and jam filling: Warm 1/4 cup marmalade, apricot jam or raspberry jam in the microwave until it liquefies. Stir in the 1 tablespoon sugar. Set aside to cool until no longer steaming, still liquid. Pulse 2 cups (roughly 10 ounces) dried fruit, such as apricots, cranberries, cherries or currants, in a food processor until it breaks down into tiny pieces. To assemble, spread the jam onto the rugelach dough; sprinkle the dried fruit on top.
- Peanut butter and chocolate filling: Warm 1/2 cup peanut butter in a microwave until it liquefies. Spread over the rugelach dough; sprinkle with 1 cup miniature chocolate chips.
- Freezing rugelach: The disks of dough can be frozen for up to three months; thaw in the refrigerator overnight before using. The shaped cookies can also be frozen for up to three months. Arrange cookies on a baking sheet, making sure they do not touch, and freeze until solid. Transfer to a freezer container for long term storage. Cookies can be baked straight from the freezer and may need an extra few minutes to bake.
- You can also roll the dough into a rectangle and fill leaving 1-inch at one long end empty. Roll like a cigar. Then with a pizza wheel or knife slice 1 ½-inch strips and set on parchment as described above and cook.
Hungry for more? Savor these!