Sunday, 25 November 2018

Rugelach




Hanukkah begins at sunset on Sunday, December 2nd this year. So it's time for the blog's annual Hanukkah recipe. This year I've made rugelach, a filled, pastry-like cookie. The dough is made mainly of flour, butter and cream cheese. It's rolled out into a circle, spread with a layer of the filling of your choice, sliced into wedges like a pizza and rolled into individual crescent shapes.  The cream cheese gives the dough a pliable consistency that's key for this recipe. Very much like pastry or shortcrust, the result is soft and flaky. For the filling I'm using apricot preserve and I processed a mixture of walnuts, dried cranberries, sugar and cinnamon. It's delicious and festive. Other popular filling options are chocolate, raisins, sour cherries, nuts, jams and marmalades. Be creative!

To be honest, this was my first time making rugelach. It's actually quite an easy recipe. Some of my cookies ended up a little small but that was the only issue I had. You can make the dough with a stand mixer, a food processor, a hand mixer, or even in a bowl with a pastry cutter.

Important Note: I am going to post the original recipe which yields 64 cookies. That may sound like a lot but keep in mind these are smaller and lighter than your average cookie. You can't have just one. For the actual demo in this post (pictured) I halved the recipe. 32 was more than enough for myself, a couple of my neighbours and my coworkers at the office. When making the full recipe, you're going to need a large egg yolk in your dough to help keep it together. If you're halving the recipe, the egg yolk can be omitted altogether. The dough is essentially pastry. If the mixture is too dry you can add a tsp of water or milk. If you need to add more, keep adding little by little, combining between each addition of liquid. Remember, you can always add more if you need to, but if you add to much you can't take it out and it will ruin your dough. So be sparing and patient. 



Ingredients


2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, cold and cubed
8 oz (1 standard packet) of cream cheese, cold and cubed
1/4 tsp of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg yolk

3/4 cup apricot preserve
1 cup walnut pieces
3/4 cup dried cranberries
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

1 egg
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tbsp cinnamon 


First step is to make the dough. Combine 2 cups of flour, 1/4 tsp of salt and mix to combine.





Then add the cold, cubed butter and cream cheese, vanilla extract and egg yolk. 








Mix just until you are left with a coarse, curdy texture. Do not overmix. 







Press everything together into a dough. If it's too dry you can add a little bit of either cold water or milk. If it's too wet you can add a bit of flour. 







Lightly flour a clean surface and turn the dough out onto it. Divide into 4 equal parts and flatten into 1" thick discs. 







Tightly wrap with plastic film. At this stage the dough needs to rest before you can start using it. Put in the fridge for anywhere from 2 hours to as long as 3 days. You can even freeze them for up to 3 months. But 2 hours in the fridge is the minimum. 


To make the filling, combine the cup of walnuts, 3/4 cup of dried cranberries, 2 tbsp sugar and 1 tsp of cinnamon into a blender or food processor and pulse into a fine, coarse, crumbly texture.






When you're ready to start making cookies, preheat your oven to 375 F/190 C. Remove the dough from the fridge and let soften slightly for a minute or two at room temperature. Lightly flour a clean surface and using a rolling pin, roll the disc into a circular shape about 1/8-inch thickness. Don't worry if the dough cracks around the edges. 







For each disc, apply 3 tbsp of apricot preserve and spread it evenly into a thin layer. 







Then sprinkle over some of the walnut-cranberry mixture into an even layer. Gently press the mixture into the apricot preserve to stick it in place.







Using a pizza or pastry cutter (a sharp knife will work in a pinch) and cut the disc into 16 equal wedges, just like a pizza. Then, starting from the wider end along the edge, roll each wedge up tightly. Then pinch each end to make a crescent-like shape. Don't sweat it if they don't look perfect. Repeat with each disc of dough you're using. 







Arrange your rugelach onto a baking sheet lined with a silicone mat or parchment paper. Allow to set in the fridge, on the baking sheet for 20 minutes before putting them in the oven.







Beat an egg and brush it over each of the cookies. Make cinnamon sugar by throughly combining 2 tbsp sugar and 1/2 tbsp of ground cinnamon. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar from a height over all of the cookies. 

Place in the middle of your preheated oven and bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown and slightly puffed up. Then transfer to a cooling rack. 






They're best enjoyed warm from the oven but they'll need a few minutes to cool off a bit first. These little cookies are fanciful, festive and delicious. They have more of a piecrust taste and mouthfeel than what you might expect from a cookie. I chose a cinnamon sugar topping for this recipe, but alternatively, you can also choose to sprinkle powdered sugar over them instead. Remember, there isn't any sugar in the actual cookie dough so you can be more liberal with it. Besides, these are special holiday cookies. Indulge a little. 






It's amazing how a few simple ingredients can come together so perfectly and in a fairly simple method. This recipe is a great example of that. As I mentioned before, this was my first attempt at rugelach and they're possibly my new favourite cookie. These were delicious. A big hit with everyone I shared them with and they are kid approved as well. 







I hope you'll give this festive recipe a try this Hanukkah. Have a safe and happy holidays!



B

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