Whenever I eat rugelach, I think of the time my friends moved all of the furniture out of their apartment, rented a large dining table and chairs, and hosted one delicious Hanukkah dinner. The host and I made latkes for the occasion, and another friend showed up with a plate of the most beautiful, homemade rugelach. After laboring over my own rugelach, I am even more impressed with his seemingly effortless contribution. The flaky, tangy dough in this version balances out the jammy, chocolatey, nutty filling within for a perfect bite. I practiced making this recipe repeatedly to simplify it and come up with the most reliable method. I made it so many times that my Smitten Kitchen cookbook would fall open to the rugelach recipe– IF its pages weren’t stuck together!
If you’re making rugelach from start to finish in one day, begin before noon. To make the dough, completely soften 1/2 pound of butter (2 sticks) and 1/2 pound of cream cheese (1 brick) at room temperature. Add them to a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, and beat them until they are aerated and fluffy. In a separate bowl, stir together 2 cups of flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Pour the dry ingredients into the stand mixer, and beat it on low just until everything is combined.
Tear off 3 sheets of plastic wrap, and divide the dough between them. Wrap the dough up, and shape each packet into a flattened disc. Chill the dough in the refrigerator for about 3 hours or until it is completely firm throughout.
Once chilled, prepare your fillings. Warm 2/3 cup of jam in a small pot until it is spreadable. Separately, stir together 1/3 cup of sugar and 1/2 tablespoon of cinnamon. Chop 3 tablespoons of toasted nuts. Also chop 3 ounces of dark chocolate. Then, remove one disc of dough from the refrigerator. Tear off a sheet of parchment paper, and sprinkle it and your rolling pin with flour. Unwrap the disc of dough, and roll it into a thin circle. No need for things to be perfect, but the goal is to keep the dough from getting warm. So word to the wise: don’t work your dough on a countertop that is warm from a running dishwasher!!
Spread the dough with 2 or 3 tablespoons of jam. Sprinkle over 3 tablespoons of cinnamon sugar, 2 tablespoons of chopped chocolate, and 1 tablespoon of chopped nuts. Use a sheet of wax paper to gently press the fillings onto the dough. Then, slide the parchment paper and dough round onto a cookie sheet, and put it into the refrigerator to chill. This step will make the rugelach rolling process much easier.
While the first round of dough is chilling, repeat the rolling and filling process with the remaining discs. When you’re done, heat your oven to 350° F.
Remove the first round of dough from the refrigerator, and slice it into 16 wedges. A pizza cutter is the perfect tool. Roll the rugelach inwards, slice by slice, from the outer crust to the inner point. You may have to wait a few minutes for the dough to warm up just enough so it reaches a rollable state. Transfer each rolled cookie to a parchment lined baking sheet.
Keep the rolled cookies in the refrigerator while you repeat the process with the remaining rounds. Once all of the cookies are formed and spread evenly on baking sheets, brush each one with an egg wash, a mixture of 1 egg yolk and a small splash of water. Sprinkle the top of each cookie with a little bit of the remaining cinnamon-sugar mixture.
Bake the cookies for 20 to 25 minutes, until they are golden brown on top. Once out of the oven, immediately transfer each cookie to a cooling rack. If the cookies cool on the baking sheet, the oozy jam may make them stick to each other.
Once cool, pass these cookies around a table full of friends. If you have extras, they freeze really well and can be defrosted at room temperature and briefly toasted before serving. But be warned, if you make these once, you’ll field constant requests for more. A labor of love indeed!
This recipe is from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook.
- Butter- 2 sticks
- Cream cheese- 2 brick
- Flour- 2 cups
- Salt- 1/2 teaspoon
- Jam- 2/3 cup
- Sugar- 1/3 cup
- Cinnamon- 1/2 tablespoon
- Nuts- 3 tablespoons
- Dark chocolate- 3 ounces
- Egg- 1 yolk