Recipe by Sarah Phillips;; Food styling and photos by Kelly Hong © 2008 Sarah Phillips CraftyBaking.com
Variation: Chocolate Filled Rugelah
There are many recipes for this delicious and tender cookie! In the Middle Ages it was traditional to eat cheesecakes at Hanukkah in commemoration of the cheesecakes or pancakes Judith gave to General Holofernes. After eating these cakes, the general became thirsty for wine, which Judith also served him. Soon he swooned, Judith slew him, and the Jews were saved. Today many people serve sour-cream pancakes at Hanukkah in memory of Judith. Others serve Rugelah, a half-moon cream-cheese cookie, which may be a far cry from the original cheesecake but is nevertheless a melt-in-the-mouth delicacy perfect for the fanciest party.
Probably the most popular of American Jewish cookies, this horn-shaped treat was made in Europe with butter; cream cheese was added in this country. This is my favorite recipe.
COOKIE RECIPE HELP
KELLY SAYS: "These are SO GOOD! The tastiest rugelach EVER! Buttery, tender and just the right amount of spice!"
barbbaby, Premium Member, Says: "Hi Sarah, Sorry I took so long to get back to you but I did want you to know that I made the Rugalech last week and they were absolutely delish. The dough and the chocolate filling came out perfect. My brother-in-law said they were better than any he has ever bought. It was a lot of work but since this was my first attempt at something like this I wanted it to be right. I really appreciate all the patience you have. I was really proud of myself and now I will be less hesitant to attempt some of the other things I was afraid to try before. Thanks for your great instructions and the many tutorials that you and Kelly put together."
This dough needs to be VERY cold when you work with it, because it is naturally sticky and soft; when cold, it is easier to work with.
One 8-ounce package of cream cheese; For best results, use Philadelphia Brand
1 cup (2 sticks or 16 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour; spoon into measuring cup and level to rim; use more if needed, but do not over-add
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup golden or regular raisins; if the raisins are dried out, soak them first in 1/2 cup of boiling water for 1 hour and drain them thoroughly.
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1/2 cup apricot preserves, well stirred; do not strain or thin with water - it causes the preserves to thin too much and ooze out the sides of the Rugelah.
1/4 cup whole or 2% milk
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
cookie sheets lined with parchment, silpat mats or foil; rolling pin.
STEP I: MAKE THE RUGELAH DOUGH AND CHILL
Food Processor Method:
1. Into a food processor fitted with the metal blade, place the cream cheese.
2. Cut the butter into a few pieces and add it and then, pulse the food processor, and then let run for a few seconds at the end until both are until smooth and creamy.
SARAH SAYS: You need to take care not to overprocess the cream cheese; it contains gums and you can run the risk of overmixing it, ruining its texture for good, making it gloppy and unable to gel properly. As a result, the texture of the dough will become spongy and difficult to work with.
Scrape down the sides, so all the butter is incorporated.
3. Add the sugar and vanilla extract and process until incorporated, scraping the sides of the bowl.
4. Add the flour and the salt and pulse in JUST until the dough starts to clump together.
The dough should be STICKY and SOFT. Do NOT add in extra flour because the resulting cookies will be not as tender and buttery.
5. Scrape the dough onto a piece of plastic wrap and press it together to form a ball.
Because the dough is soft and sticky, use the plastic wrap to help you guide the dough into a ball shape.
6. Divide the dough into 4 equal portions and cover each with plastic wrap. If you are unsure if they are equal in size, weigh each piece of dough:
A. First, divide the dough in half....
B. Then, divide each half, in half, so you end up with four equal pieces.
C. Flatten and then, wrap each dough section.
7. Refrigerate the dough for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.
OPTIONAL MIXING METHODS: Stand Mixer
1. Soften the cream cheese and butter. In a mixing bowl, cream the cream cheese and butter until blended. Beat in the sugar and vanilla extract. On low speed, beat in the flour and the optional salt until incorporated.
2. Scrape the dough onto a piece of plastic wrap and press it together to form a ball. Divide the dough into 4 portions and cover each with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.
3. Proceed to Step #5 of the mixing steps, above.
STEP II: MAKE THE FILLING
There are so many different types of filling that can be used with Rugelah. This is traditional and just one example:
1. In a medium bowl, combine the sugars, cinnamon, raisins, and walnuts.
2. Toss the mixture with your fingertips or a large spoon until well mixed. Cover and set aside.
STEP III: PREHEAT THE OVEN. CUT THE RUGELAH COOKIES, FILL AND ROLL THEM. BRUSH TOPS WITH MILK AND SPRINKLE WITH CINNAMON SUGAR.
Preheat the oven:
1. Place two oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Roll out the rugelah dough:
1. Using a floured rolling pin, on a lightly floured board, roll out each dough portion, one at a time, slightly larger than a 9-inch circle, about 1/8-inch thick, rotating the dough often to be sure that it isn't sticking. A great method that keeps additional flour to a minimum is to roll out the dough on a lightly floured silpat, nonstick mat or in between two sheets of lightly floured waxed paper.
KELLY SAYS: I like to roll out the dough on a silpat, nonstick mat.
Trim the dough with a pizza cutter or a sharp knife, using a 9-inch plate as a guide, so that the cookies would be nice and uniform.
SARAH SAYS: I love the way Kelly used a plate as a guide to trim the dough! How clever!
2. Place the mat with the rolled dough on it, into the refrigerator for about 1/2 hour to chill.
Or, slide the silpat mat, with the rolled dough, onto a flat cookie sheet or onto the backside of a rimmed cookie sheet. Place a piece of parchment paper over the dough. Place a flat cookie sheet or the backside of a rimmed cookie sheet on top. Place one hand under the cookie sheet and the other on top of the other cookie sheet, and flip everything over, so the dough lands onto the parchment paper.
3. Place the dough on the parchment paper lined cookie sheet in the refrigerator, with a piece of plastic wrap pressed on the dough's surface, to chill for about 20 to 30 minutes each.
4. Repeat with the other three pieces of dough and place them in the refrigerator to chill for about 20 to 30 minutes each, so they would be nice and cold, before proceeding to the next steps.
Fill each Rugelah cookie:
1. Remove one dough circle at a time from the refrigerator, leaving the rest to chill.
2. Using the back of a tablespoon, spread each dough round evenly with 2 tablespoons of the apricot preserves.
Avoid spreading it to the edge of the circle; stop about 1/2-inch from the edge.
2. Sprinkle about 1/2 cup of the raisin-walnut filling over the preserves on the dough circle. Press the filling firmly and evenly over the dough.
3. Repeat with the other three pieces of dough, one at a time. If at any time the dough becomes too soft to work with, place as is the refrigerator to chill for about 10 - 20 minutes before proceeding.
Roll the Rugelah cookies:
1. Line at least two, preferable four, rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpat, nonstick baking mats. Set aside.
2. Using a pizza cutter or with a sharp knife, cut the dough circle into 12 triangles or pieces of "pie."
The easiest way to do this is to cut the dough into quarters, then to cut each quarter into three triangles. Use a thin knife, if necessary, to loosen the triangles from the silpat nonstick mat.
3. Starting at the base of the triangle, roll up each cookie.
4. Place the rugelah, point underneath, about 1 1/2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Form it into a slight crescent shape.
Refrigerate, covered with plastic wrap, for at least 30 minutes or until firm.
SARAH SAYS: The refrigeration step helps the Rugelah to keep their shape during baking; do not skip this step.
5. Repeat with the other three rounds of dough, one at a time. Clean the work surface of excess filling before rolling each batch. If at any time the dough becomes too soft to work with, place as is the refrigerator to chill for about 10 - 20 minutes before proceeding.
SARAH SAYS: The cookies can be covered and refrigerated overnight, if necessary. At this point, the cookies can be frozen for a month or more. Bake frozen. right before baking, brush with milk and top with cinnamon sugar. Add about 5 to 10 minutes to the baking time. See next steps, below.
Top the rolled and chilled cookies with milk and cinnamon and sugar:
1. For the topping, brush the rugelah with milk.
2. In a small bowl, stir together the sugar and cinnamon, and sprinkle the rugelah with it.
STEP IV: BAKE THE RUGELAH COOKIES, COOL, SERVE AND STORE
1. Immediately bake the chilled Rugelah for 18 to 20 minutes or until lightly browned and puffed.
For even baking, rotate the cookie sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through the baking period.
2. Use a small, angled metal spatula or pancake turner to transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool to just warm or to room temperature.
SARAH SAYS: Allow the cookie sheet(s) to cool completely before using for the next batch.
The rugelach are especially delicious still warm from the oven and are at their best when freshly baked.
Baked: In an airtight container, about 5 days at room temperature or a month or more in the freezer.
Unbaked: Preformed Rugelah cookies can be frozen for a month or more. Bake frozen. right before baking, brush with milk and top with cinnamon sugar. Add about 5 to 10 minutes to the baking time.
For the chocolate filling (for 12 rugelah):
33 g cocoa powder (not sweetened)
33 g ground cinnamon
50 g sugar
30 g chopped 60% dark chocolate
25 g melted butter
For the chocolate filling combine the cocoa powder, cinnamon, sugar and chopped chocolate.
For the chocolate filled rugelach spread the dough thinly with melted butter, then sprinkle with the chocolate filling - avoiding the edges - finally cut the dough into wedges as specified in the recipe.