Rugelach is a traditional Jewish pastry made with a tender cream cheese dough. They can contain any number of fillings, like chopped raisins or dried fruits, shaved chocolate, chopped nuts, or, as in this recipe, jam. We made a simple raspberry filling, dressed up with a little cinnamon-sugar and some finely chopped toasted walnuts.
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened (1 stick)
- 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- For the filling:
- 1/2 cup seedless red raspberry jam
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 cup toasted walnuts, very finely chopped
- For the sugar glaze:
- 1 egg, lightly beaten with 1 teaspoon cold water
- 1-1/2 to 2 tablespoons decorating (coarse) sugar
Combine the butter and cream cheese in a large bowl. Using an electric mixer on low speed, beat until smooth. Add the sugar, salt and vanilla, increase the speed to medium, and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy.
With a wooden spoon or spatula, incorporate the flour into the butter mixture to form a soft dough. Place on a flat surface and knead the dough a few times until smooth. Don't overwork it.
Divide the dough in half, shape each piece into a ball, then flatten the balls with the palm of your hand to form 4-inch rounds. Wrap them separately in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
About 10 minutes before you are ready to roll out the dough, melt the jam in a small saucepan over very low heat until it reaches a syrupy consistency. Keep just warm enough to maintain a liquefied state. Mix the sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Remove one package of dough from the refrigerator. If it is too firm to roll out, leave it at room temperature for 6 to 8 minutes.
On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough to an 8-inch diameter circle. Brush a thin coating of melted jam over the dough, avoiding a 2-inch diameter round in the center and 1/4 inch all around the edges. This prevents excess jam from oozing out of the ends when the cookies are rolled. Sprinkle some cinnamon sugar over the jam, then scatter half of the nuts around evenly.
Using the tip of a sharp knife, cut the dough into 16 equal triangles, like a pizza. Starting from the outer (larger) edge, gently roll each triangle toward the center. Press on the end point of the triangle slightly to help it stay in place. Place the rolled cookies, end point side down, about 1 inch apart on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat the process with the remaining dough and jam.
Once all of the rugelach are arranged on the baking sheets, brush them with the egg-water mixture, then sprinkle with the coarse sugar. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until they're light golden brown and puffy. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
Makes 32 cookies
Rugelach can be stored, tightly covered for 2 to 3 days at room temperature, up to 1 week refrigerated, or 1 month frozen. If chilled, bring to room temperature before serving.