Rugel-what?

All raspberry to the right, raspberry plus chocolate and nuts on the left.

Rugelach. The ‘ach’ is as in ‘Bach’, though the a is a bit shorter. Anyway, not ‘atch’ as in ‘batch’. Challah is another word pronounced with the slightly gutturalized ‘h’ sound, as opposed to ‘ch’ as in ‘chips’, but challah is from Hebrew while rugelach is from Yiddish and…

Oh, sorry, I got distracted there; what is a rugelach? It’s a sweet, a biscuit, a cookie, of Eastern-European Jewish origin. A rugelach is rolled like a wee croissant; it’s a rich dough – often based on cream cheese and butter – filled with all the sweet stuff you can find: jam, chocolate, sugar, dried fruit, cinnamon, some nuts maybe, with a bit more sugar sprinkled on top, just to make sure. The dough itself is not very sweet, though, so it balances the fillings.

This recipe is from Dorie Greenspan, with minor changes; I’ve adapted the measurements for the UK, but the original, with US measurements, can be found here. It’s also in her book Baking: From My Home to Yours.She also includes currants, but when rolling mine up I found there was already plenty of stuff in there for the tiny cookies to hold.

Traditional Rugelach

Dough

115 g cream cheese, cold, in chunks

115 g unsalted butter, cold, in chunks

125 g plain flour

1/4 tsp salt

Glaze

1 large egg

1 tsp cold water

2 Tbsp coarse white sugar

Filling

225 g raspberry jam, apricot jam or marmalade. (I recommend a low-sugar, high-fruit style of jam or preserves.)

2 Tbsp caster sugar

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

50 g chopped nuts: walnuts are traditional, but pecans or almonds are also fine

115 g 80% dark chocolate, finely chopped

Makes 32 small cookies.

TO MAKE THE DOUGH: Let the cream cheese and butter rest on the counter for 10 minutes — you want them to be slightly softened but still cool.

Put the flour and salt in a food processor, add the chunks of cream cheese and butter and pulse the machine 6 to 10 times. Then process, scraping down the sides of the bowl often, just until the dough forms large clumps, not until it forms a ball on the blade. It should, though, stick together when you squeeze it.

Turn the dough out, gather it into a ball and divide it into two approximately equal balls. Flatten each ball into a disk, wrap them in cling film and chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours, or up to 1 day. (Wrapped airtight, the dough can also be frozen for longer periods.)

TO MAKE THE FILLING: Heat the jam in a saucepan over low heat, or do this in a microwave, until it melts. In a separate bowl, mix the sugar and cinnamon together.

Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.

TO ROLL THE RUGELACH (this is the fun bit): Pull one dough disk from the fridge. If it is too firm to roll easily, give it a few bashes with your rolling pin, but don’t be afraid to lean on it.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into an 11- to 12-inch circle; the dough will be about 1/8″ thick. Brush a *thin* gloss of jam over the dough – too much and it will leak out and burn or get stick-to-your-teeth chewy – and sprinkle over half of the cinnamon sugar. Scatter over half of the nuts and half of the chopped chocolate. Cover the filling with a piece of wax paper and gently press the filling into the dough, then remove the paper and save it for the next batch. This will help keep the chopped nuts from getting lost.

*This is a good time to preheat the oven to 175°C .*

Using a pizza wheel or a sharp knife, cut the dough into 16 wedges, or triangles. (The easiest way to do this is to cut the dough into quarters, then to cut each quarter into 4 triangles.) *Starting at the base of each triangle*, roll the dough up into a crescent. Arrange the rolls on a baking sheet, making sure the points are underneath the cookies, and refrigerate. Repeat the steps above with the second disk of dough, and refrigerate the cookies for at least 30 minutes before baking.

TO GLAZE: Stir the egg and water together, and brush a bit over each crescent. Sprinkle with coarse sugar.

Bake the rugelach for 20 to 25 minutes, rotating the baking sheets if necessary, until cookies are puffed and golden. Transfer the cookies to cooling racks and cool to room temperature.

STORING: You may want to use sheets of baking parchment or grease-proof paper between layers of rugelach in a tin or in the freezer to prevent them sticking together and breaking. They can be kept covered at room temperature for up to 3 days. or wrapped airtight and frozen for up to 2 months.

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7 Comments

Filed under baking, biscuits, cookies, Jewish, recipe

7 responses to “Rugel-what?

  1. Those looks absolutely delicious. Mmmmm… Raspberry is one of my favourite fillings for pastries, too. Am I the last person on earth to discover Dorie? I’ve come across her name a few times lately. I’m tempted to buy her book but I fear my husband will shoot me if I bring home another cookery book. :)

    • Dorie is great; I love her writing and her taste. I have her massive book mostly because I won it in a drawing at SeriousEats.com a few years ago. You can always come over and look at it here! x

  2. dj

    Emily, your rugelach looks wonderful! (great photos, too.) thanks for sharing your recipe. i know i enjoy the process of making rugelach, and it ships well. a favorite treat of long-distance family and friends.

  3. So that’s how you roll those things! They look wonderful.

  4. Mel

    I’ve never tried rugelach, but it looks rather delicious! And it doesn’t seem (!) too overly-complicated either, so I think I shall have to give them a go!

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