Ahhh, rugelach! These light and flaky pastry-like cookies are among my favorite during the holidays. The dough is actually made with only a handful of ingredients, one of them being cream cheese. I began making them over 14 years ago while I was working at a small bakery in Berkeley, CA. They are the most requested item I receive from my family during Christmas time. I've seen many variations, some are filled with poppy seed, chocolate and jam. My favorite by far is apricot walnut rugelach. It has a thin layer of apricot jam, a light sprinkling of cinnamon sugar, golden raisins and chopped walnuts. You will traditionally see them rolled in a crescent shape. I roll mine a little differently, more like a cylinder which i fill and roll up and then slice into individual pieces. Another great thing about these is they can be made ahead of time and kept in the freezer...which is always a PLUS, especially during the holidays. Once you learn how to make these little gems, you and your family will keep coming back for more...I promise :)
Tips for making Rugelach
*Use cold butter and cream cheese. The more cold the ingredients, the flakier the rugelach will be once you bake them.
*Do not over mix the dough once you add the cream cheese. You want to see streaks of cream cheese inside the dough. Almost like a marble effect. Once the dough begins to come together in the center of the mixer, STOP and do not mix any further.
*After mixing, I place my dough into a square/rectangular baking dish, which I spray and line with parchment. This way the dough is already in the shape you need to roll it and less handling of the dough.
*A lot of rugelach recipes call for you to cream the butter and cream cheese like a cookie. NO, NO, NO! Don't do that. I mix my rugelach very similar to the way I make my pie dough recipe. This will give you the most flaky and light rugelach you've ever tasted.
Yield: 20 cookies
9 ounces cold butter, cut into 1/2" cubes
9 ounces cold cream cheese, cut into 1/2" cubes
10 ounces All-Purpose flour
1/2 tsp kosher salt
Filling (please note, the recipe makes two rolls of rugelach. Divide filling among the two).
1/2 Cup Apricot Jam, divided
3 Tablespoons Cinnamon Sugar, divided (to make cinnamon sugar I mix 1/2 cup granulated sugar and 2 Tbsp ground cinnamon. Reserve the remaining cinnamon sugar for another use).
1/2 Cup Finely chopped walnuts, divided
1/2 Cup Golden Raisins, divided
1. Place flour and salt into a mixing bowl.
2. Cut the butter and cream cheese into 1/2" cubes. Place the butter into the flour mixture and the cream cheese back into the refrigerator until ready to use.
3. Using a fitted paddle attachment, begin to mix flour mixture and butter on low speed. Once butter begins to get dispersed, adjust speed to medium. Mix until flour mixture becomes sand-like and the butter begins to break down into small pea-size lumps.
4. Remove cream cheese from refrigerator and add into mixing bowl. Mix on low until evenly incorporated. Do not over mix. Like I mentioned before, you want the dough to have streaks of cream cheese and have a marble-like appearance
5. Remove dough from mixing bowl and press into any small square/rectangular baking dish, greased and lined with parchment paper. This will make it a lot easier to roll once the dough has chilled. Chill dough for a minimum of 3 hours or overnight.
6. Remove dough from refrigerator and divide into two equal sized pieces. Let dough come to room temperature for 30-40 minutes.
7. Lightly flour surface and rolling pin. Begin to roll dough starting at the center and pushing outward, turning each time and maintaining a rectangular shape. Roll dough into a 12x16" rectangle, about 1/4" thick.
8. Spread apricot jam onto the dough with an off-set spatula all the way to the edge of the dough. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mixture evenly on top of apricot jam. Add chopped walnuts and golden raisins.
9. Starting at the top of the dough, begin to fold the dough over, trying to keep it as tight as possible and begin to roll towards you. Roll dough up into a tight cylinder, ending with the seam on the bottom. Press the top gently to flatten the bottom seam to ensure it is sealed. Wrap in plastic wrap and place onto a sheet pan. Repeat same process with the remaining dough and filling. Refrigerate for 3-4 hours. At this point, you could also freeze and use at another time.
10. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
11. Slice the cylinders into 1 1/2" pieces and place seam-side down on the prepared baking sheets. Bake until golden brown for 30 minutes. Once the rugelach have cooled completely, dust with powder sugar and serve. Store in a tightly sealed container for up to 3 days.