I’d be sad if many of you didn’t know what Rugelach was and where it originated from, but that is why we are here to learn new things and bake/cook fabulous dishes! Rugelach is an inspiring, yet challenging cookie that is so rewarding if done right. It has nutty, fruity goodness combined with a sweet, yet tangy dough that’s just to die for. This recipe is time consuming and requires a ton of patience, but I promise that if you give it your all you will be pleasantly surprised with the results. Just take your time and enjoy yourself! While this cookie can not technically be called a Christmas cookie since it is from Jewish tradition, it deserves a special little spot in our list, so today we are baking “Holiday” cookies and we are going to learn a lot too!
Let us talk about the basics first. If you’ve never had Rugelach before (which I find very hard to believe since many of you have probably had it but just didn’t know you have had it), it is a crescent-shaped cookie filled with nuts, dried fruit (we chose raisins) and preserves. There are obviously many variations of this recipe and each family has their own way of making them, but the general idea remains the same. They are incredibly sweet that has a counter-balance of tanginess from the cream cheese and/or sour cream in the dough. It is a delightful cookie.
Cream cheese or sour cream is a must in this cookie dough!
I warned you a minute ago that these cookies are not easy and they do take time. You don’t want to rush through them or you will not be pleased with the outcome, so if you don’t have the time, save the recipe for another day. It took me a while because I’ve never actually made them before. My mom has made them before and she was one of the first to warn me that they are not simple. For my first time though they came out pretty freakin delicious! It was totally worth the wait!
Don’t rush with this one!
Now we know that this cookie comes out of Jewish tradition, but there is still a debate to this day on where it originally originated from. Austria likes to take a lot of the credit, but a form of the pastry really dates back to the 1600s in Romania. And some believe that the pastry predates even the Early Modern Era. The “modern” version didn’t come about until the 19th century (so they say). So who really knows! Most of this stuff is purely speculation. The name is Yiddish (obviously) and I certainly can not pronounce it correctly. Go ahead, give it a try!
A page out of Jewish tradition.
We also know that this cookie is not a cookie specific to the holidays. These little guys pop up all year long, including, but not limited to Shabbat. But as of late (or in the last century or two), they are quite popular around Hanukkah.
I challenge you guys to give it a whirl! You can start a new tradition and make them every year, like I plan on doing. It is also possibly that I will be whipping up another batch since I can not stop eating them. Come up with your own variations. Add chocolate, subtract the preserve, add another nut. The possibilities are endless.
Be creative on what you add!
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 4 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 1/2 cup sugar, divided
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
- 1/4 cup golden raisins
- 1/2 cup walnuts, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup apricot preserves
- 1 egg + 1 tablespoon water beaten(for egg wash)
- In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper and also set aside.
- In the bowl of your stand mixer (with the paddle attachment fixed) cream together the butter and cream cheese. Add 1/4 cup of the sugar and mix until creamy and light in color. Add the vanilla extract and beat to combine.
- Now begin adding your dry ingredients to your wet in 1/2 cup increments. A soft dough will form. Turn the dough over on a lightly flour-dusted surface and roll into a ball. Cut in half and wrap each individually in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 1 - 1 1/2 hours.
- Meanwhile, start preparing your filling. In a small bowl combine the brown sugar, 3 tablespoons of the sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, raisins, walnuts. Mix until incorporated. Now add the preserves to the mixture and fold the ingredients over one another until all is blended. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until you're ready to use.
- After the dough has chilled, remove from the fridge. On a lightly dusted surface, roll each ball of dough out into 10-12 inch circles with a lightly dusted rolling pin (dough will stick if you don't). Take your filling and spread half on each circle, making sure you leave about a 1/2 inch around the edges. Use all of the filling.
- Now you will cut your dough into wedges. Cut your dough in half and then in quarters. Cut each quarter into thirds. You will have 12 wedges per circle when all is said and done. Roll your wedges starting with the wider side and roll all the way up to the narrow side. Lay narrow side down on the parchment paper lined cookie sheets. Repeat this step for the rest of the cookies. You will have 24 in all.
- Chill the cookies in a cool place for about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
- When the cookies have chilled, brush each cookie with the egg wash and sprinkle with a pinch of cinnamon and a pinch of sugar.
- Bake the cookies at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until they are golden brown.
- Remove from oven and let cool mostly on the cookie sheet, then move to a wire rack to finish cooling.
- Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
Hardware: * Bowls * 2 Cookie Sheets * Parchment Paper * Stand Mixer (with paddle attachment fixed) or Hand Mixer * Heavy Wooden Spoon * Spatula * Wire Racks (for cooling) * Whisk * Sharp Knife * Cutting Board * Rolling Pin *