March 6, 2012 § 11 Comments

Rugelach is a traditional Jewish pastry/cookie; its name translates to “little twists”. Originally made with a yeasted dough in Europe, American Jewish immigrants adapted the pastry to a cream cheese dough in this country. This is the first (and more challenging) of the two recipes for TWD bakers to make this month. I’ve never made a cream cheese dough before, let alone rugelach, but these rich cookies with their complex fillings of jam, nuts, dried fruit and sometimes chocolate are one of my bakery favorites. Lauren Groveman’s version of these traditional pastries are generously sized and filled.Β Their delicious richness warranted all my efforts!

Spiral rugelach from “Baking with Julia” show off their flakiness

I couldn’t resist adding some type of whole grain flour, so I substituted Bluebird Farms emmer flour for a third of the white flour. To ensure a flakey dough, I wanted to keep the fat (butter and cream cheese) cold. I decided to use Dorie Greenspan’s food processor method, instead of creaming room temperature fats in the mixer. She describes her techniques and gives her rugelach recipe plus two other favorites in an NPR interview on holiday cookies here. I opted out of making prune or apricot lekvar (fruit butter) as I had some French prune-rhubarb butter, homemade cherry jam and local apricot preserves already opened in the refrigerator (toast with butter and jam is a breakfast staple for me). I was a little light-handed with the filling ingredients at the beginning, worried that I might have trouble rolling the dough to encase the filling. But I gained confidence and was pretty generous by the 4th batch.

Cold cream cheese and butter chunks piled on top of dry ingredients in food processor

Pulse several times to combine the ingredients, then process until the dough starts to clump together. It will look like cauliflower!

Dough is portioned for either crescents (6.5 oz) or spirals (10 oz) before chilling

Roughly shape for spirals (rectangle) or crescents (rounds), wrap and chill

A plethora of ingredients for fillings – preserves, toasted nuts, currants, dried cherries, mini-chocolate chips

Roll the dough out to 1/8-inch thickness for crescents and spread thinly with preserves

Sprinkle evenly with chopped toasted nuts and dried fruit or mini-chocolate chips; cut into 16 wedges and roll from base to tip

Place crescents with their tips underneath on parchment-lined sheet pan to chill, or freeze to glaze, sugar and bake fresh later

A small plate of a variety of rugelach to share with my neighbors

The crescents I made were quite a bit smaller than the original spirals, so I got more than six dozen rugelach from the recipe. I took most of them to an Academy Awards Night potluck dinner, and they were an Oscar-winning hit!


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