Whenever I think about soft, delicious cookie like pastries, I think of rugelach. They are just so tasty. To my thinking it’s a sin and a shame that they are not served more often both at home and in restaurants. But then I have always daydreamed of owning my own restaurant for one reason, and one reason only. Dainty desserts. Allow me to explain how this has anything to do with this recipe.
After a lovely restaurant meal, I would be in heaven if I were able to order a couple 1-2 bite desserts to finish my meal. Miniature morsels of sweetness, just large enough to provide that little something that says my fine dining experience has come to a fabulous end. Instead, what is usually offered is the same old standard collection of choices, each large enough to easily serve 4-6 aging appetites! I don’t want a warm brownie the size of a dinner plate served with 2 scoops of not-so-special vanilla ice cream!
I want a tiny tart (lemon and pecan come to mind), or a diminutive piece of pie bar (see several examples on this site), or a beautifully frosted miniature cupcake, or a tiny exquisite chocolate mousse served in an espresso cup, or a lovely truffle (the chocolate variety), or a perfect little shortbread cookie, or a delicious little pastry like rugelach. The variety that could be served is endless.
Now, because I understand that restaurants need to make money, I wouldn’t expect any restaurant to carry more than 6-8 types of these miniature wonders. Just as long as they were small, different, and absolutely delicious, I would be one happy lady. But enough about my daydreams. Back to rugelach.
According to Wikipedia, “rugelach is a Jewish pastry. It is very popular in Israel, commonly found in most cafes and bakeries. It is also a popular treat among American and European Jews. Traditional rugelach are made in the form of a crescent by rolling a triangle of dough around a filling.”
According to me, “rugelach is easy and relatively inexpensive to prepare, absolutely delicious, and enough different from other desserts/cookies/soft pastries, as to qualify for the “Dainty Desserts” menu at the restaurant I am still daydreaming about.”
(I’ll let you know when I open this restaurant. Do not hold your breath!)
- 1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
- ¼ c. sour cream
- 2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
- ¼ tsp. salt
- 2 T. granulated sugar
Cream the butter, cream cheese, and sour cream together in the bowl of your stand mixer. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and sugar. Slowly add the dry mixture to the wet mixture, mixing constantly, until dough holds together and begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl. (Don’t overmix.) Scoop dough onto a lightly floured surface and form into a rough ball shape. Divide the ball into four equal pieces and again roll into balls. Flatten each ball to look like a fat disc. Cover each disc with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator. Refrigerate for at least 90 minutes, or up to 48 hours. Meanwhile, prepare one of the following fillings and the egg wash.
- 1 c. chopped dried apricots
- 1½ c. water
- pinch of kosher salt
- ¼ tsp. nutmeg
- ¼ c. brown sugar, depends how sweet you want your filling
- ¼ c. brandy
Place the ingredients in a small pan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer uncovered until most of the liquid has evaporated – 20-25 minutes. Remove from heat, cool, and mash. (Some small lumps are desired, so don’t mash too much.) Can be prepared ahead and kept in the refrigerator.
- ¾ c. dried cherries
- 1 c. toasted almond slivers
- ½ c. cherry preserves
- 1/8 tsp. almond extract
Combine ingredients in a food processor. Pulse until a thick, coarse paste forms. Can be prepared ahead and kept in the refrigerator.
Raspberry, Chocolate, and Pecan Filling
- 1½ c. pecans, toasted and very finely chopped
- 1/3 c. very finely chopped semisweet chocolate
- ¾ c. raspberry jam
Combine and spread on dough as directed above. Can be prepared ahead and kept in the refrigerator.
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp. water
- granulated sugar
- ground cinnamon, opt.
Beat the egg and water together. Set aside.
On a well-floured board, roll each disc of dough into a 9-inch circle. (Only take one disc out of the refrigerator at a time.) Using a small offset spatula, spread a scant quarter of the filling onto the dough to within 1-inch of the edge. Cut the circle into 12 equal wedges, cutting the whole circle first into quarters, then each quarter into thirds. Starting with the wide edge, roll up each wedge. Place the cookies, points tucked under, about an inch apart on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
Brush each cookie with the egg wash. Lightly sprinkle with granulated sugar mixed with cinnamon to taste. Bake in a pre-heated 375 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove to a wire rack and serve warm or at room temperature.
Rugelach will keep for a several days in a tightly sealed container. They can be rewarmed in a microwave
Hint: To get a perfect 9-inch circle, use a 9-inch cake pan. Place upside down on the dough and cut around the pan with a sharp knife. Save scraps. After the 4th dough round, you will probably have enough scraps to make another 9-inch circle.