One last cookie recipe for you this season – the grand-daddy of them all. This is the most praised cookie in my battalion of cookie recipes. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that people fall all over themselves for these rugelach. Lifetime rugelach-lovers have confided in me that these are better than any they’ve ever tasted before . . . . so if you want to make some friends (maybe influence some people?) this season, whip up a batch or two of these and be generous. And read to the end for a shortcut that might make these less daunting to bake.
Rugelach8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature ½ lb. unsalted butter, at room temperature 1/4 c. granulated sugar plus 9 T. 1/4 t. Kosher salt 1 t. vanilla extract 2 c. all-purpose flour 1/4 c. light brown sugar, packed 1 1/2 t. ground cinnamon 3/4 c. raisins 1 c. walnuts, finely chopped 1/2 c. apricot preserves, pureed in a food processor 1 egg beaten with 1 T. milk, for egg wash
Cream the cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light. Add 1/4 c. granulated sugar, the salt, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour and mix until just combined. Dump the dough out onto a well-floured board or countertop and roll it into a ball. Cut the ball in quarters, wrap each piece in plastic, and refrigerate for 1 hour.
To make the filling, combine 6 T. of granulated sugar, the brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, the raisins and the walnuts.
On a well-floured board, roll each ball of dough into a 9-inch circle (a nice way to get a neat circle is to place a 9-inch pie plate upside-down over the dough as a stencil, scoring the dough around the edge with a small knife). Spread the dough with 2 T. apricot preserves and sprinkle with 1/2 c. of the filling. Press the filling lightly into the dough. Cut the circle into 12 equal wedges, cutting the whole circle in quarters, then each quarter into thirds. Starting with the wide edge, roll up each wedge. Place the cookies, points tucked under, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Chill for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine 3 T. granulated sugar and 1 t. cinnamon in a small bowl. Remove the cookies from the fridge, brush each cookie with the egg wash, and sprinkle each cookie with the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove to a wire rack and let cool.
Yield: approximately 3 dozen cookies.
Note: the possibilities for fillings are endless. I usually make at least 2 batches of these, half with apricot and half with seedless raspberry preserves. You can use a chocolate spread, like Nutella, or chocolate and raspberry together. I’ve heard of people using fig jam, some just use cinnamon-sugar and nuts. Think of what flavors appeal to you and go from there – the dough is neutral and will showcase whatever’s inside.
Next – these are a lot of work: mixing, rolling, filling, chilling, yada yada yada. If you want to make “lazy-man’s rugelach,” you can roll the dough into a rectangle instead of a circle, insert your fillings, roll it up into a log and cut slices. Then chill them and brush them as you would traditional, crescent-shaped rugelach.