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No. of Recommendations: 6
Each culture has its "special" cookie. The US has the Oreo and the chocolate chip cookie. Australia has the TimTam. Canada has nanaimo bars. Argentina has the alfajores. Ashkenazi (Eastern European) Jews have the rugelach (pronounced, more or less, like "rug a lakh", the final "ch" being a shibboleth for most Americans). These mini-pastries are habit forming. They are popular enough in NYC that you will not only find them inkosher bakeries, but in Arabic ones, Turkish ones and even (substandard ones) at Costco.

A number of years ago I decided to make a batch of these. I collected four or five recipes and boiled down the differences to how the dough was wrapped around the fillings as well as a number of different fillings. So, not taking anything for granted, I made four batches, each with a different filling and each with the pastry/assembly done differently. The experience was traumatic enough for me to swear that I would buy them at bakeries from then on and that hell would freeze over before I tried making them again.

Well, the Devil must be shoveling snow because today, I took another whack at them - but only making a 1/3 batch (about 12 of them) and choosing the way that I remembered as the easiest to handle. If you look up your own recipe, choose one that allows you to spread the filling and then cut the pastries (rather than cut the dough and individually fill them the way the Molly Goldberg cookbook recommends).

The method I chose was from "The Professional Pastry Chef" which consisted of rolling the dough into a disk, spreading the filling as a layer, then slicing it into wedges like a pizza and rolling each up into something like a mini-crousant. Another reasonable method (espoused by Deb Pearleman) is to create a rectangular sheet of dough, spread the filling on top, roll the sheet like a jelly roll and then slice into 2 inch (5cm) ling sections. Jacques Torres (in his "Dessert Circus at Home" book) suggests rolling a rectangular sheet of dough and spreading the filling, followed by cutting into triangles and folding each separately (more work for little return).

Anyhow, the method below took making a cream cheese dough disk the night before and then the balance of the job - including the baking - took about half an hour today. Easy to make, but too easy to eat too many of them.

I've left the fillings until the end of the recipe. Today's choice was nuts and raisins and cinnamon. Last time I made these it was a bigger batch and I made some of three different fillings.

Something none of the books mentioned is that, for the final rolling of the dough, I used a cutting board and pre-cooling it made a huge difference. Also, I covered the dough with plastic-wrap which kept it from adhering to the rolling pin.

Enjoy,

Jeff

Rugelach

Rugelach are undeniably wonderful. In general, they are a cheese-based dough wrapped around a sweet filling. There are an infinite number of different fillings (some of which are listed at the end of the recipe). While the recipe for the dough is generally the same, there are a number of different schools concerning how to create the cookie itself. I find it easiest to make a large circle of dough, smear a filling on top, slice it into wedges like a pizza and roll each cookie from the thick end to the pointy end, Jacque Torres suggests rolling a large rectangle and then slicing it into triangles rather that wedges, but another popular school suggests rolling a cylinder which is sliced – and yet another (Deb Perlman’s) suggests slicing pinwheel cookies.

Dough
1 ½ cups (12 ounces / 340 grams) unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch dice
12 ounces (340 grams) cream cheese, at room temperature
(optionally substitute 75 grams of sour cream for the same amount of cream cheese)
Scant 2/3 cup (2.3 ounces / 65 grams) sugar (powdered sugar will dissolve faster)
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract (or optionally, substitute a splash of strained lemon juice)
2 eggs
3 cups (8.5 ounces / 241 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
(1 cup (8 ounces / 227 grams) cake flour may be substituted for a cup of all-purpose flour)
¼ teaspoon baking powder

For the egg wash:
2 large egg yolks
1 large egg
1/4 cup (1.8 ounces/50 grams) Whole milk

To finish the rugelach
1/4 cup (1.6 ounces/40 grams) Rock or crystal sugar (or confectioner’s or cinnamon sugar)

FILLINGS AT END OF RECIPE

Line a 15 by 22-inch sheet pan with parchment paper or silicone baking sheet. Flour a second 15 × 22-inch baking pan.

A food processor is the best way to mix the dough. Place the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a couple times to blend. Add the cream cheese, all-purpose and cake flours, butter, sugar, baking powder, salt, eggs, and vanilla. Pulse until crumbly; this will take 30 seconds or so. Pulse until there are pea-sized crumbs throughout. (You could also use a hand-held pastry cutter, but avoid using a stand mixer as it's easy to over-mix the dough with one)

When ready, the dough will be slightly sticky.

Preheat the oven to 350°F/176°C with a rack in the center of the oven.

Three ways to roll the dough for the crust:

Baker’s Secret: Bakers often soften dough that is still quite hard from being chilled
by pounding the dough with a heavy rolling pin. First pound lengthwise, and then, crosswise.

A) Cut rounds into wedges
Cut the dough into three equal pieces, flatten into disks and wrap in plastic wrap, then chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or up to 1 day. Or freeze for up to 3 months and thaw overnight in the refrigerator before using.

Line large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Set aside.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator.

Refrigerate cutting board you will be rolling on for an hour (or put it in the freezer).

Working with one disc of dough at a time and on a lightly floured work surface, cover with plastic wrap to prevent it from sticking to the rolling pin and roll into a 10-12 inch circle (roughly 1/8 inch thick, give or take) and brush it lightly with water (if using cinnamon-butter filling, brush with melted butter instead of water).

Spoon about 1/3 of the filling on top. Use an offset spatula to spread the filling in an even layer over the disk, spreading it all the way to the edges. Spread a generous, even, layer of filling over the entire dough, from edge to edge. If the filling has nuts or other solids, press down with your hands or use rolling pin lightly to make the filling adhere. The filling will be compressed right into the dough; it will be almost translucent.

Using a pizza cutter or sharp knife, cut the round dough into 8-12 equal wedges or about 2 inches wide at the circumference (like a pizza). If you’re cutting on a silicone mat, be careful not to cut the mat. Dip either tool into water from time to time to keep it from sticking.
Place these on cookie sheep point side down about an inch apart.

Repeat with other two disks.


The Finish
Prepare the egg wash: Place the egg yolks, whole egg, and milk in a small mixing bowl
and whisk to combine.

When all of the rugelach have been rolled, use a pastry brush to brush the egg wash (or, if you prefer, melted butter) on top of each one. Sprinkle each with some of the rock, crystal or cinnamon
sugar.
(At this point the rugelach can be frozen for use another time or refrigerated to be baked later or the following day. Frozen rugelach can be baked—directly from the freezer to oven—without thawing.)

Baker’s Secret: Rugelach dough is very tender and tends to overbake on the bottom
before the tops are done. Try nesting two baking pans inside the other. This creates an
air space between the pans, insulating the pastries just enough to prevent burning on
the bottom. Toward the last 5 to 10 minutes of baking time, the bottom pan can be
removed if the bottoms are found to be lagging behind the tops in color. Adapt this
method to the personality and quirks of your oven.

Bake for a total of about 30-35 minutes with sheets on the middle and lower levels. After 13 minutes, switch which tray is on each level as well as rotating the trays front-to-back, and complete the baking until lightly and evenly golden brown. Carefully lift an edge to see if the bottoms have begun to brown.

Remove from the oven (and, if not applied at time of egg was, immediately brush the tops with butter. Drizzle a thin line of cinnamon sugar down the length of the rows). Cool on the pan or on a wire cooling rack. If the filling has oozed out of the rugelach, you might find it is easier to remove them from the parchment paper before they have fully cooled. Serve when
completely cool.

Sprinkle the apricot and chocolate rugelach with confectioners’ sugar just before serving.

Yield: About 3 pounds (about 75 pieces)
Notes: Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: You can prepare the dough up to 1 day ahead of time as noted or freeze for up to 3 months. You can prepare the filling 1 day in advance. Cover tightly and keep at room temperature until ready to use. If frozen unbaked, rugelach can go directly from freezer to oven. Baked rugelach freeze well for up to several months; simply place in Zip-Lok freezer bags. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before serving. Rugelach keeps well tightly covered or wrapped at room temperature for about a week

FILLINGS
Nut and raisin filling
1/2 cup (100g) packed light or dark brown sugar
1 cup (115g) chopped walnuts (chopped pecans work too)
1/2 cup (85g) raisins (or dried cranberries for some color!)
1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
Optionally mix in 1 stiffly beaten egg white
Pulse the brown sugar, walnuts, raisins, and cinnamon in the food processor until very finely chopped and well combined. The filling will feel a little moist. You’ll have a little over 2 cups total.

Apricot-Nut Filling
1 cup (10.5 ounces / 298 grams) smooth apricot jam
1 ½ cups (9 ounces / 255 grams) raisins, preferably golden
2 cups (8 ounces / 227 grams) walnuts, chopped, preferably toasted
1 ½ cups (5.4 ounces / 120 grams) cake/bread crumbs or chocolate chips
1 cup (7.2 ounces / 200 grams) Cinnamon Sugar, half reserved for topping (3 gm cinnamon, res sugar) - half used in filling, half reserved
¼ cup (2 ounces / 57 grams) unsalted butter, melted

Place the walnuts, sugar, and cinnamon in a food processor and process until the walnuts are finely chopped. Spread one-third of the jam over each dough disk. Sprinkle one-third of the nut mixture evenly over the jam.
Raspberry Filling
Substitute thickened raspberry jam (preferably with seeds) for the apricot butter. Omit the
raisins.

Strawberry Filling:
1/2 cup (5.5 ounces/155 grams) Strawberry jam
1 tablespoon (0.175 ounce/5 grams) Cake crumbs
Combine the strawberry jam and cake crumbs in a small mixing bowl. Mix with a rubber spatula until well combined.

Chocolate Rugelach
Prepare the dough as above. Roll the dough out to a thickness of ? inch. Melt together 8
ounces (227 grams) semisweet chocolate and 2 tablespoons butter. Spread on the dough
instead of the apricot jam. Omit the raisins but use the nuts, if desired. Replace the crumbs
with chocolate cake crumbs, if desired. Instead of rolling the filling into the dough, press
down with your hands before cutting into strips. Substitute 1 cup sugar mixed with 2
tablespoons Dutch-process cocoa powder for the cinnamon sugar.

Chocolate Filling:
1/2 cup (2 ounces/60 grams) DOVE PROMISES Dark or Milk Chocolate, finely grated or chips
1/4cup (1.8 ounces/50 grams) Granulated sugar
Combine the grated chocolate (or chips) and granulated sugar in a small mixing bowl and mix well with a rubber spatula. Set aside.
Poppy filling:
1/4 cup poppy seeds
2 tablespoons chopped apple
2 tablespoons ground nuts
3 tablespoons sugar
Mix the poppy seeds, apple, nuts, and sugar together and proceed as
directed above.

Other Variations
Sprinkle a cup or so of your favorite chopped dried fruit or nut over the jam or chocolate
layer before cutting into wedges. Try dried cranberries or cherries, candied orange peel,
pistachios, pecans, or peanuts.
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